Just before the Easter break, endurance cyclist and blogger Tim Wiggins recently contacted us with a request; He was riding 400 miles non-stop across the Black Forest and needed a suitable lightweight lock for cafe and re-fueling stops mid-ride. We had to re-read that first bit once or twice. 400 miles in one ride. We suggested the FLX as a suitable lightweight lock, but also thought we’d better see if Tim knew what he was suggesting…
You cycled 400 miles. In one go. Are you feeling OK???
Haha. This isn’t my first foray into endurance riding, although it is the furthest I have ridden non-stop to date. Other recent rides include an Everesting last year, and an unsupported tour across Europe from Denmark to Andorra via Italy – the #7Countries7Passes. The hardest thing on this ride was the lack of sleep. Going without sleep for 40 hours is a strain on your body in itself. Add 27 hours of bike riding to the mix, and your body begins to go a bit AWOL.
TELL US ABOUT ENDURANCE CYCLING – WHAT DRAWS YOU TO IT?
I have thought about this question a lot; and I think the answer is that I have a curious mind… I am always questioning how far I can go; how fast I can ride; how many new places and people I can meet along the route. I have done short course road racing and mountain bike racing in events across Europe. The long distance stuff has a particular attraction to me though: you are pushing boundaries of a different kind, and seeing interesting places along the journey.
WHAT IS THE BLACK FOREST 400?
Back at Christmas, I drove down to the Black Forest; it took nine hours from Calais. On the drive back I got thinking… could I ride that? In one go? Non-stop? These questions play on my mind. In the end, I decided that for a return visit to the area this Easter weekend, I would take on the challenge. I took the ferry over to Calais, and stayed in a hotel just north of the city of Arras. The next morning the ride began – 400 miles to southern mountains of Germany.
How do you plan for a ride like this?
You have to think of every detail: every eventuality, and every possibility. You plan and analyse the route; studying roads and elevation. You consider the possible weather conditions; and from that you draw up your kit list. You consider your appetite; and from that draw up your food list. You also consider worst-case scenarios; and then come up with escape plans and contingencies (fortunately I didn’t need these!). You can read more about the planning process in this blog: Black Forest 400
How do you fuel? Do you have food stops en-route? Or deep jersey pockets?
A bit of both really. My computer reckons I burnt 15,000 kcals over the course of the ride. That is a fair bit of fuel.
This is what I ate/drank:
- 7x Litres of water
- 5x Coffee
- 2x Maurten 160 Drink Mix
- 1x Coca Cola
- 2x Pain au Raisin (from French Patisseries)
- 2x Packets of Nairn’s Snackers Oatcakes
- 2x Nutella Sachets
- 1x Veloforte bar
- 1x Packet of Rude Health Ginger and Turmeric Oatys
- 1x Packet of Nairn’s Fruit Oatcakes
- 1x Packet of Liquorice Allsorts
- 1x MacDonald’s Chicken Burger (from MacDonald’s)
- 1x Jar of Belgian Baked Beans (from convenience store)
- 1x Frites Mayo (from kebab shop)
- 1x Fori Piri-Piri Chicken Snack Bar
- 1x Clif Bar Shot Blocks
- 1x Chocolate Chip Cookie (from bakery)
- 1x Chia Charge Protein Bar
- 1x Chia Charge Peanut Butter Flapjack
What happens when you reach the destination? Cycle back?
No. I don’t think I could handle that! I stayed with family down in the Black Forest for a few days, and then drove back to the UK. In some ways it was a little depressing seeing how much quicker it was… but, the autobahn is nowhere near as interesting as the back-roads.
After 400 miles and 8000m of elevation gain, what is the next ride?
The big idea for this year is the Great Divide – Canada to Mexico down the longest off-road bike path in the world, which traverses the Rocky Mountains…There will be some big rides between now and The States though. I love bikepacking, so I will do some long distance weekend rides, and I also have my eye on a few gravel/off-road races in the Alps. Basically, anything that involves mountains, adventure, and new places to explore. Those are the biggest draws.
NOW YOU’VE HAD A CHANCE TO REFLECT ON THE RIDE – HOW DID IT GO? ALL AS PLANNED? ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE?
This blog post gives a first hand account of the ride – Black Forest 400. It was tough, especially at night. I was very glad I opted for full winter kit, rather than spring/summer apparel. I was very glad I brought good lights and plenty of food – they were worth the extra weight. Would I have changed anything? I would have taken some music, for company in the dark hours. I would also have taken a thermal bottle, which I could have filled with warm coffee for the night section (even the petrol stations closed in the middle of the night). Apart from that, the route, the kit, and all the equipment performed superbly (Hiplok FLX included!) 😉