In their newest challenge video, Global Cycling Network hosts Olly and Conor take on a “big day out” riding from Bath down to the South coast of England, over to the Isle of Wight, and then back again—all in the span of a single day. That’s a total distance of 210 miles (338 km), which they intend to do in the hours between sunrise and sunset.
They set off from Bath at 6:17 am. “It feels nice, just leaving our doorsteps, the open road ahead, with this epic adventure on the cards,” says Conor. “Spirits are high, we’re chugging along.”
After riding their first 70 km, the pair make a quick pitstop to see Salisbury Cathedral, the partial inspiration for Conor’s favorite novel (The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett), and then they hit the road again, because the pressure is on to reach the coast and board the ferry on time.
The two most important things to consider on a long ride like this, Olly explains, are pacing and nutrition. “All too often, people get carried away, they go far too hard at the start,” he says. “And they burn all their carbs, all their carb stores, and they burn them at a rate that’s greater than you can replenish them without eating during a ride… So the way to avoid that is to ride well within yourself, ride at a comfortable pace. It should feel too easy at the start. And then, whatever you’ve got left at the end, empty the tank if you want to… You’ve also got to keep eating carbs all the time.”
Once they get to the boat and make the crossing to the Isle of Wight at 11:04 a.m., Conor and Olly must then complete a lap of the island—more than 100 km—in under four hours so that they can then return to the mainland and start the journey back to Bath. But shortly after hitting the 100-mile mark, their pace on the island begins to slow, and they start to feel the fatigue in their quads. “It’s a lot hillier and grippier than we thought,” says Olly.
Once they’re back on the mainland and onto the last 120 km, Conor does some quick calculations and soon realizes they won’t be back by their original goal of sunset. “Dawn ’til dusk… and a little bit more,” he says. “We rumble on.”
After some torrential rain and a detour to replenish their calories, they make it back to their starting point at 10:43 p.m., more than 16 hours after setting off that morning. “I’m broken,” says Olly.
“200 miles is a big benchmark to go after for any cyclist, and I think that’s the beauty of it,” says Conor. “Any cyclist can do this, from their doorstep like we have, go out, big adventure, and make it home in the same day.”
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