I've had a "longest ride in daylight" challenge in my bucket-list for a long time, but there have always been other events getting in the way. The lack of competitive events in 2020 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) gave me the opportunity and motivation. I was aiming for the weeks around the summer solstice, giving me a solid 17 hours of daylight, and so started studying the weather forecasts - waiting for a steady westerly wind to appear. I live near the east coast of England, so a rising westerly needed to be a nailed-on certainty.
I'd originally planned on riding my road bike, on smaller roads, for comfort and enjoyment. I mapped this out on Garmin Connect, and was hoping to ride it with a club-mate. When he was unable to join me I had a change of heart and opted for bigger roads on my time trial bike. I started from scratch, on Strava Routes this time, primarily because Garmin Connect's course designer gets incredibly slow to update the route when it goes beyond 100 miles or so (due to its elevation gain calculator). The final route I opted for can be seen on routes.fun.
Ride on 2020-06-19 03:04:24, at
Gear: Ridley Noah TT
485km in 15:41:00
|Average heart rate
I set off shortly after 4am - slightly before dawn, technically. It took around 50 miles to find myself on unfamiliar roads, as they flattened out for the vast expanse of the Fens.
The hills started appearing after 85 miles as I passed through the Deepings, heading out of Cambridgeshire and into Rutland.
At midday I reached the furthest point (around 150 miles) at Walton-on-Trent in Derbyshire. It was raining a bit, so I didn't stop for long. A stopped a few miles later, in Rosliston, for a lunchtime fish & chips. Just what I needed!
The journey home saw me brushing the southern edge of Nottinghamshire and the northern parts of Leicestershire, before heading once more into the flatlands of Lincolnshire. The wind had fortunately played to the forecast and I had a healthy tailwind for almost all of the last 130 miles, so all I really had to worry about was refuelling. The lunchtime stop, plus protein bars and fig rolls, was all the food I needed, but I was feeling quite tired mid-afternoon so stopped in Spalding for a coffee - plus a juice top-up for my bottles. I also stopped at a car wash near Kings Lynn (around 50 miles to go) for water; they seemed confused by my request, but happy to oblige!
As the sun was slowly sinking I knew I was going to make it home ok, and even had the energy for a brief chat with legendary time trial volunteer Bruce Williams (of North Norfolk Wheelers) who just happened to be passing as I was easing myself along the A148 towards Holt. After that I just counted down the miles and tried to enjoy the familiar roads.
I traveled very light, taking with me a multitool, spare tubes, puncture repair kit, pump and a Rehook (next generation, with tyre levers and hex keys). I also had a Cycliq Fly6 rear light/camera and a small LED front light. I carried three battery packs - for the rear camera, my Garmin and my phone. Unfortunately I had the Cycliq on charge when it started to rain, and water ingress killed what was otherwise a fine rear camera.
Realising that I'd destroyed my rear-view camera in the rain was definitely a low point, although the rain itself was really refreshing. I did find the hills around Loughborough fairly hard work, and maybe that was because I would have liked to savour these old haunts for longer instead of just riding through. My legs felt pretty good the whole way, and it was only in the last couple of hours that I was really feeling quite tired. An extra coffee stop just inside Norfolk would have sorted that out! I didn't probably eat or drink enough - but the fairly large lunchtime fish & chips was definitely a good call and revitalised me for the next 80 miles or so. Traffic was a big positive on the day, as the roads were far from quiet (as the COVID-19 restrictions had been loosened fairly considerably) but I can't recall a single close call or even any impatient drivers. Everyone passed me respectfully, and I was keen to give my fellow road users a wave whenever possible.