Rob Lee's South Downs Double - Bike Magic

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Rob Lee’s South Downs Double

Rob Lee having finished his epic ride (photo: Neil Newell)

Rob Lee rides across the finish line (photo: Neil Newell)

These are a few notes from a phone call between USE’s Rory Hitchens and Rob Lee the morning after Rob’s sub-21 hour, unsupported 202 mile South Downs Way double – he was talking to Rory in between mouthfuls of undoubtedly sizable breakfast…

Man, I’m so dehydrated. I lost 3kg of body weight on the ride.

The highlight was the night riding. I was on the top of the Downs and as the first light came up it was like nothing I’ve 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 for ever.

The ride started to hurt at about 115 miles, after I had turned from Eastbourne. I then started to realise that I still had 85 miles to go and it was going to be a tough ride home.

The return journey’s tailwind didn’t 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 stopped at all the available taps. This was really nice. Even though I did not have support on this ride 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, drink again and re-fill my bottles. These were special moments as they were my natural breaks in the ride and I knew where they were and when to expect them.

The whole ride I was totally “on it”. Towards the end I started doing lots of calculations in my head, not to work out if I was going to make it as I always knew that I would do a sub 24 hour time, but to work out just how much time I could break the record by. This was a good motivator for me in the last couple of hours.

I don’t mind saying I walked Butser Hill. I was pedalling it but when a walker strolled past me I figured I’d be better off walking myself as it was faster than granny gear.

In the final stages before you get back to Winchester there are some “rollers” on the way round to Cheesefoot Head and the A272 crossing. I’d checked these out before and so I was going to attack these as I’d be nearly home. When I got there I suddenly realised that this was it… I was almost done. I just went for it and I did that whole section in the big ring to the finish. The climb up the spiral bridge over the M3 as you drop into Winchester town felt like it wasn’t even there, I just flew over it.

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.

Big thanks to the other members of the South Downs Double club, Ian Butler, Mike Cotty and Neil Newell for making this more than just a ride but a true challenge ride.

Neil was amazing getting the tracker set up and then checking it at Eastbourne too. It was good to know the ride was being logged and watched.


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