It’s funny how when you have to give a presentation on something it forces you to think really clearly about what you are trying to say. I was standing in front of the MSc students in Applied Sports Science at the University of Winchester persuading them that our Lands End to John O’Groats tandem record attempt was a great focus for their time and efforts whilst studying for their degree. One thing I was asked to describe was the route. In their minds they were already calculating the power output necessary to achieve the distance in the required time. If only it were that simple.
1348km and 10,000m of climbing doesn’t really convey the challenge. The route is very hilly for the first 200 miles, then undulates before becoming 75 miles of interval work racing from one set of traffic lights to the next through the vast conurbation that stretches from south of Warrington almost to Kendal. The hills resume for a while before easing back. The final 70 miles however, takes you to one side and gives you a damn good kicking with a series of long grinding climbs – just what you need after 40+ hours of non-stop riding. To add to the challenge of working out the right power output for the ride is that at 3am in the morning your focus is much more on staying awake until the arrival of the first light of dawn – desperately trying to convince yourself that sleep is simply not necessary. Power and speed are no longer at the forefront of your mind. Speed picks up with the onset of a new day.
Whilst the speed / power calculation is going to be difficult, we are really glad to have the support of the students led by Dr Simon Jobson. His book on performance cycling is sat beside me at the moment. A reminder to stop writing and start reading.