Aussie rowers trade oars for Wattbikes

Olympians embark on 24 hour challenge for Leukemia foundation

It wouldn’t be easy to find a pair of sane cyclists willing to do 24 hours, of 20 minute intervals, at 300 watts, however, Aussie Olympic rowers Karsten Fosterling and Matt Ryan did just that, and for a good cause.


Ryan, who last year set the 24 hour Ergo (rowing machine) Tandem World Record (380,274m) with fellow Olympian Samuel Loch, decided take on a new challenge this year, to support families living with blood cancer.

“We started working with the Leukemia Foundation last year. We never realised how many kids it affects, and that the foundation does not receive any government funding, so we wanted to help any way we could,” Ryan said.

Friend and fellow rower James Tomkins (of the famous ‘Oarsome Foursome’) told BikeRadar: “They did a really solid preparation, and basically came up with the number of 300 watts because everyone said it was impossible.”

Ryan, who came second in the coxless four at the Beijing Olympics, and partner Fosterling, who brought home a bronze medal in the men’s quadruple scull at the 2012 London Olympics, started riding at 10am on Saturday, 30 August, and continued through until 10am the following morning.

“It was a massive effort. At midnight – about 14 hours in – I kinda hit the wall, and I remember someone saying, ‘you only have 16 intervals to go’, which really broke my spirits. There was never a point where I said to myself, ‘I don’t think I will finish,’ but after I hit the wall it was difficult,” Ryan said.

Averaging 320 watts through 72 intervals total (36 each), the pair put in an incredible effort for a great cause and raised $25,000 for the Leukemia Foundation. They rode for a total of 1054km.


Hoping to turn their 24-Wattbike session into an annual event, Ryan put out a challenge: “Now that we have done it, we want someone to try to go out and beat it. My plan is for next year to open it up to corporate teams, cycling teams or whoever else to take part and try to raise more money.”