May 20th 2022. 42 riders met in Coimbra - in Galeria de Santa Clara - for the dinner/briefing session of the inaugural edition of Heading SouthWest. 10 nationalities, different goals, diverse backgrounds, but the same passion: long distance cycling. They departed - from Rebolim River Beach - on May 21st morning with a huge challenge ahead: approximately 1.000 kilometers and more than 15.000 meters of climbing across inland Portuguese territory. Serra da Freita e Arada was the first mountainous challenge. During the first day, the gap between the first riders was minimal with just a few minutes. Regarding the weather, a surprise. Not Atlantic, neither Mediterranean climate. But tropical! However - after the first 24 hours - the rain and fog was particularly intense in the morning and increased the emotional fatigue. The front riders climbed Estrela and Açor Mountains during the night and a significant part of the "peloton" during the day. After crossing the Tagus river, the sun shined in Alentejo and gave good vibes to the adventurers.

Sam Thomas - from Netherlands - was the fastest rider of the inaugural edition of Heading SouthWest (47 hours and 18 minutes). Lucie Hogger - from United Kingdom - was the fastest women (63 hours and 6 minutes) and Kika Castro / Filipe Pinto the fastest pair. Highlights also for the the awesome average level of the participants. The percentage of DNS/DNF riders was surprisingly low comparing with the usual scenario in self-supported ultracycling events with a similar profile. This doesn’t mean that was an accessible challenge. The route had a medium-hight mountain profile with irregular climbing slopes, adding an extra emotional challenge. Furthermore, the riders experienced all types of weather adversities: rain, wind, cold, heat. Some riders experienced temperatures ranged 10-40°C. Heading SouthWest 2022 was the first self-supported ultracycling event that explored the diversity of the Portuguese territory.