The South Downs is a hefty chunk of chalk on Britain’s south coast, criss-crossed by more bridleways than you can shake a minipump at.
It’s a mountain biker’s paradise – and UK endurance rider Rob Lee has just broken the Double record – riding 202 miles along the
from Winchester to Eastbourne and back in twenty hours, fifty five minutes and fifty one seconds.
Only three riders have completed the 24hr challenge before – Mike Cotty, Neil Newell and Ian Butler. Rob broke the record completely unsupported – carrying all navigational aids, food, and other kit himself, stopping at public water taps to refill his water bottles.
“I stopped at all the available taps,” he said . “Even though I didn’t have support, the tap stops were my friends and where I would allow myself a little break. I would stop and drink a bottle then cover myself with water.”
Rob had started from Winchester at 11:40pm on Tuesday, and after well over fifty miles in the dark his one-way time was about 9 hours 45 minutes.
“The highlight was the night riding,” he said. “I was on the top of the Downs and as the first light came up it was like nothing I have ever seen before. There was light at the top of the sky fading to a very dark blue and then a red haze and then to black at the skyline. It was amazing, I wish I’d taken a photo but the memory will be there forever.”
Rob rode the course with an on-board GPS, and the entire ride was tracked via a live reporting page.
“It was good to know the ride was being logged and watched. It started to hurt at about 115 miles,” he explained. “After I had turned from Eastbourne I started to realise that I still had 85 miles to go and it was going to be a tough ride home.
“The return journey tailwind did not really help. I guess it did on the tops but where I needed it was on the climbs but as I was in the valleys then I was getting roasted. Man it was hot! I don’t mind saying I walked Butser Hill. I was pedaling it but when a walker strolled past me I figured I’d be better off walking myself as it was faster than granny gear.”
After making it home and smashing the previous record in the process, Rob has set a formidable target for everyone else.
“The whole ride has been amazing. Logistically and equipment wise I was well prepared and I’m stoked with this ride as it’s a new best time and also the first Alpine Style ride too. I know later in the year I would have been fitter as May is early season really but there it is now, a new time for others to have a go at.”
After finishing the ride Rob had lost 3 kilos in bodyweight.