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 theDowns Way
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.