Pete and I have been talking for a while about wanting to ride 100 miles in a day, for no other reason than to see if we could do it. Obviously I cycle quite a bit, and whilst Pete doesn’t ride as much as I do, he does run marathons, and has a requisite amount of bloody-minded determination.
My longest single ride previously was only 60 miles, but there have been many 40-50 milers, and many days where I’ve ridden that kind of distance consecutively. Pete’s ridden up to 80 miles in a day before whilst touring across France or Amsterdam.
So we spent the last couple of weeks waiting for the weather to break, and plotting what route we’d take. Yesterday was the day, and we set out from my house a little after 9am, just over a litre of fluids each in our bottle racks, Pete with jam sandwiches and me with flapjacks to spur us on. Nearly 9 hours later, just before 6pm, I locked my bike up back at home, after over 7 hours in the saddle.
We climbed three big hills in our first 50 miles, which registered in order as categories 4, 3, and 5 on the Tour de France scale: out of Exeter towards Dunsford; from Kingsteignton over Bishopsteignton to Teignmouth Golf Course; and over the back of Woodbury to Otterton. We wound our way through back lanes for much of the last 40 miles, doing our damndest to find shaded, flat routes where we could escape the heat of the afternoon sun on the hottest day of the year.
We followed the Teign valley and traversed both sides of the Exe estuary as we drew a huge figure-of-eight with the crossroads centred on Exeter, past Christow, Chudleigh, Dawlish, Exminster, Ottery St Mary, Feniton, Talaton, Broadclyst and more. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky all day.
Pete seemed to struggle a bit between about 45 and 60 miles, before finding the energy and determination to see it through. I found the last 18 miles or so difficult; into a headwind towards Turf Locks (89 miles in) I was almost ready to call it a day, but a pint of shandy and a bag of crisps and ten minutes standing up and stretching out of the saddle recuperated me.
The last 3-4 miles were spent doing crazed loops of Exeter city centre in rush hour traffic, trying to find an easy, quiet way to tick off the last few miles to get to 100. It got quite psychedelic at points, hanging off the bike, spinning pedals, time seeming to pass too slowly, brain not thinking, no energy to speak.
I’ve never felt as exhausted, mentally or physically, as I did when I got home. My head was spinning and I thought I might pass out for a split second. A can of coke, a banana, and a cold bath to relax my muscles helped. Remarkably, I almost feel like I could get back on the bike again today, although I doubt for more than 20 or 30 miles. I certainly wouldn’t want to do any hills.
You can see our route here, taken from Pete’s Garmin watch.