My journey into cycling began in 2009. I'd been running for 2-3 years, however I was picking up injuries, so a friend suggested I do triathlon instead (less running, he said...)...which was fine, apart from the fact I couldn't swim, and didn't have a bike.
So I learnt to swim, and bought a bike, and it quickly became apparent I was far better at cycling than running or swimming. I decided that I needed to set myself a challenge, and at about the same time an event called Ride Across Britain was announced. 1,000 miles in 9 days. At the time my longest ride had been about 50km (30 miles), so I naively signed myself up...how hard could it be?
Turns out "bloody hard". The next 10 months were a real education in structured training, endurance, nutrition, and also some of the technical aspects of cycling. There is a big difference between running for 1 - 1½ hours, and cycling for 6 hours day after day after day. I remember arriving in John O'Groats feeling thoroughly out of my depth, in the middle of a howling gale and rain storm (probably clement weather up there though!). Over the next 9 days I broke myself...by day 3 I was on prescription painkillers, with the organisers doctors handing them out like smarties every morning to an ever-increasing queue of riders. I had an issue where the sheath of my quad muscles (the fascia) was disconnecting from the muscle, and binding instead to the thigh bones, and every night a physiotherapist would slowly and painfully pry them apart, extending my ability to ride by another day.
Of course, I finished, with Rob and Kate to welcome a (slightly delirious and broken) me over the line at Lands End. Of course I raced it, coming in 6th out of the 600 riders. Of course I could barely walk for the next fortnight. Over those 9 days I formed an amazing bond with a small group of people I rode with (we still refer to ourselves as "The Unit" when we meet), even though I spent 90% of the time watching their butt as we forced our way down the country. I said I've never do it again, as the experience would not be the same.
...however, Threshold Sports (the organisers) have set up a new event. Same theory (though going Lands End to John O'Groats this time), in 5 days. That averages out at ~190 miles a day. With the best will in the world, that is a brutal challenge, and not one I can easily turn down.
Ahead of putting my name down, I did some "Reality Check" numbers, to work out if I was capable of it, and I also discussed it with my coach. While I'll be 7 years older going into this (if it goes ahead, they need 50
idiots participants to make it work) I'm fitter, stronger and more resilient...and I'm also a lot more savvy in terms of cycling, and my own capabilities, as well as having access to the technology to monitor myself closely.
So, I reckon it will be along the lines of;
- 11-12 hours of cycling a day (averaging ~18mph or 29kmh)
- Burning 7,500-8,000 calories a day
- ...while cycling, you can digest approximately 4 calories per kilo of body mass per hour, which means I'll be able to eat about 2,500 calories while riding. That means I will have to eat (and digest) ~6,000 calories in the time off the bike. And Sleep. And get a massage (to protect my quads from overuse damage)
- I reckon on about 5 litres of fluids per day on the bike (10 bidons)
I've ridden ~300km in a day precisely once...last year during Mallorca 312, and I certainly wasn't in a fit state to do another 4 of those, though once again I did sort of race it. I think doing 1,000 miles in 5 days will be very much dependent on strict discipline, and keeping to a set pace and power, and (sounds a bit daft) putting effort into recovering properly, and making sure I'm physically fit for the next day.