Last weekend, former pro rider André Cardoso led a group of riders to a remarkable ultra endurance cycling achievement - completing the N2 Odyssey, all in one go.

The group of intrepid riders covered the entire length of Portugal, and with 24 hours and 21 minutes of riding time in their legs, the 12 friends arrived in Faro after covering 738km along Estrada Nacional 2. They began their incredible journey in Chaves at 08:21 on Saturday and finished in Faro in the Algarve on Sunday morning.

SwiftCarbon has a history of ultra distance cycling success. Founder Mark Blewett, along with Nick Bourne and David Martin, broke the world record for the fastest human powered crossing of Africa. Cardoso completed the ride on his Ultravox, the same model upon which Blewett, Bourne and Martin used.

Cardoso, now 35, used his experience from his days as a professional cyclist to "help those who joined the adventure and are happy to leave their mark" in the history of the Estrada Nacional 2, celebrating 75 years of existence. Cardoso and his 11 friends’ average speed was an impressive 29.5km/h, riding through the night, resting every couple of hours.

"We started by stopping every 60 or 70km but the pace dropped during the night and we rested every 40km. Once it was morning and after kilometer 500, we had breaks at each 60km mark.”

It all started a few weeks before, with what Cardoso describes as “just a joke” between him and friend Sérgio Ribeiro and soon the crazy idea germinated. "We want the sport of cycling to reach everyone. The Nacional 2 is such a beautiful road, with fantastic scenery and hospitable people. This should become a cycling landmark in our country - tourists can come here and say they have ridden the whole of the longest road in Europe and the third longest in the world!”

Along with Cardoso and Ribeiro, the N2 Odyssey riders included Sérgio’s brother Pedro, Henriques Nogueira, José Ferreira, Fernando Guerreiro, Nuno Costa, Ivo Fernandes, André Rodrigues, Fábio Oliveira, Jorge Ventura and António Viana. Cardoso describes the cohesion as a “smooth and unified peloton, with a lot of friendship, companionship and mutual help.”

Not all of the riders are former elite professional cyclists - several having never ridden further than 100, 150 or 200 kilometers at most. “Even through they experienced more difficulties, we supported each other all the way. Fortunately, everyone finished successfully and without falls an effort above normal for any athlete," Cardoso commented.

The weather was on their side. Conditions were predicted to be challenging later in the month. “We thought we should definitely do it now or it would be too complicated with too much heat that normally comes in July.”

The group received logistical support from four volunteers, and Cardoso remarked on "immense consideration and respect of the communities we touched, from the north to south of the country. We were very happy to see people outside their homes cheering us on. It was very rewarding for those who were on the road taking on a challenge like this.”

The police offered support too. “When they learned of the initiative they joined our group on the road. They came to accompany us in Vila de Rei when we rode during the night," he added.

Their adventure will be followed by several days of active recovery. We need to be cycling for 20 or 30 minutes each day in order to eliminate lactic acid from the legs and help blood circulation, before full rest.” Cardoso is well versed in recovery, having competed in Cycling’s biggest multi-day stage races like the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. Cardoso concludes, “Good recovery will ensure that soon we will be longing to ride a bicycle again.