Richard Bailey – 19h 32m 17s on the 3rd of June 2021. As a treat for turning 50 Richard thought he would treat himself to a Double attempt!
In Richards words
I love the South Downs way and doing it one-way in a day back in 2007 gave me such a great sense of achievement. When I heard people were doing it both ways in a day, that sounded completely bonkers to me and way beyond what I could imagine ever achieving myself. I turn 50 this year and always wanted to mark this with a big bike-related challenge, and chose the SDW double because it seemed so far beyond my fitness level. I’d cycled a lot up to my late 30’s but a foot injury stopped me from cycling more than short rides after that, so my fitness had dropped off and had very little endurance. My project was in two parts: 2020 was about regaining the fitness I had in my 30’s, then the second part was to extend my endurance so I could complete the double.
I started training in March 2020, which coincided nicely with lockdown and not having 3 hours per day commuting time. I blindly followed a training app and over the next 6 months took my FTP from 210 to 300. Continuing with the same plan in the hope of further gains led to overtraining and at the start of 2021 I’d dug myself a big hole and had to back off and revert to slow rides and building up endurance – doing just what I needed for the SDW double and no more.
I’ve loved the whole process of preparing for this, both my body and the bike. With such a long ride, marginal gains can add up to a lot of time. My inner nerd has enjoyed experimenting with bike changes and position. Even up to the day before I was finding ways to get a little more speed out of the bike for the same power, (e.g. cycling up and down the same stretch of typical lumpy trail making 1psi adjustments to fork pressure between runs to find the sweet spot). I reckon I shaved at least an hour off my ride time through changes to the bike. Finding and overcoming my physical limits on long rides has led me to discover strength and conditioning techniques that have brought benefits beyond the bike.
On the day, punctures stopped me getting the time I was capable of, but I really do think this event is more about just finishing it. I know I’m going to get a deep sense of satisfaction from this ride for years to come.