Bruce works with us building and servicing bikes, but he isn’t just great on the spanners – he’s also an incredible endurance athlete who has not once, but twice broke the world record for most KM’s cycled in a week. At the end of the year Bruce made his way out to Thailand with a third attempt in his sights. Did he make it? We’ll let him tell you in his own words below.
So I’m sat at another airport about to write a report about a challenge that I set out upon, at another airport.
I have had a slight obsession with this week record since first taking it on in 2014, at that stage the record had stood for 75 years and no one had even attempted it in that time, but I looked at the number and thought “I can do that” (without really putting the numbers into the equation). As it turns out, I could do the number it was in 2014, that being 2800km in 7 days.
However since I first tackled the most K’s done in 7 days world record, it had been moved on another 7 times (or so I thought), one of which was again me. The number I did in 2020 was 3333.3km, at the time a 17% improvement! As I was sitting at Heathrow, having seen it beaten a further 3 time since my second successful attempt and now standing at 3568km, I found another article about how it had been beaten again. So now standing at 3588km, it had been beaten 8 times, could I make it 9?
Now this number served a much more challenging undertaking. Rather than just believing I could do it, this record actually needed some number crunching to see if I was capable of getting it back for the third time. When I set it in 2020, managing 3333.3km, I felt there was probably a bit left in the tank, as the last few days I had the luxury of been able to back off a bit and sort of enjoy the final few days. So I figured that if I had another 10% in the tank, and I believed I did, then the new number was possible. However it was a massively daunting prospect, and a huge number to get through every day.
Once again my venue of choice was Chiang Mai in Thailand, for a number of reasons.
- Extremely fast and smooth roads, meaning a much faster average and also no energy sapping vibrations to deal with – all these little details add up.
- Extremely reliable weather, (as long as you use the months of Dec/Jan as it is just that much cooler in that period) and a massive factor for me was the lack of wind – that can kill your morale very quickly! So in my opinion the perfect conditions for the attempt.
- The ability to ride every day in shorts and a Jersey, and not have to carry spare clothing etc. Also every corner in Thailand has a 7/11 with readily available food and water, leaving you without the danger of ever hunger flatting or dehydrating.
I did the calculations from my record attempt in 2020 and I confidently though that I had another 10% left when I finished that one (not that it was a walk in the park) so in my head it was doable, although a huge undertaking.
In 2020 I did 111 hours riding, in a total week time of 164 hours, so I worked out that if I managed 120 hours (or around 8.5% more) and could increase my average speed by around a half a kmh (around 2%) then the numbers definitely worked. My 2020 numbers were 3333.3km, 111 hours, Average speed 29.8kph. So to succeed I’d need 120 hours, about 30.2kph average and that would give me around 3600km.
Now the hardest part for me was getting started – as they say “if your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough” and this terrified me as I’d already visited what it would require to get the result.
The original plan was to start on the 2nd Jan, but I didn’t have the head in the right place. The same a week later, and then on the 16th I did actually start, however a WhatsApp message I received literally an hour before I started about a serious family issue just put me in the wrong head space again. I did start, but quickly realised that the mental focus was not there and I really couldn’t give it my 100% until I had better news with this issue.
The problem I now faced was the seasons would start to work against me. In early Feb in Thailand the temperatures really creep up, and having to do over 500km a day in the baking heat would have made a very difficult task even more challenging. I knew that the last week of Jan would probably be the last window for the attempt if I was to succeed. Thankfully I got good news on the family issue and decided, #letsgo
So I began the challenge on the 23rd jan 2023 at 12.25 AM. This was the actual hardest part for me, I actually came back to the hotel to refuel and have a proper feed after I’d done around 330km’s and was thinking of canning it then. However after some food and the realisation that I’ve just ridden over 300km, and that another 200 and a bit would put me in front of the game made me think there’s no point in stopping now. I had this thought everyday for the first 3 days, but then it became more of you can’t stop now… The mental side of these endurance challenges is far and away the hardest part of them – the actual physical side, although extremely arduous is manageable, but if the heads not there, it’s impossible.
Each day I managed to get well on top of the number, which had been the plan from the start as mentally you’re on top with that approach. Days 3/4/5 I got a maximum of 2.5 hours sleep which obviously played with my mind as well. I got worried about things, like been knocked off and really started to overthink everything, but just kept plugging away and taking each day as it came.
One thing I’d learnt from previous challenges was how tough they are mentally, and how silly things can put you off. Something I’ve struggled with in the past is the haters online – it really gets in my head and effects me negatively, so on this front the plan was to not load to Strava until at least 4 days in so the background noise just wasn’t there and I could focus solely on the task at hand. Then hopefully at that stage I’d be on top of the numbers.
As it turned out this was such a good decision as the negatives definitely came (from one sad individual I might add), but on day 6 when on top of the numbers I found that there was no way I was going to let one troll derail this challenge, and used it as fuel to motivate me for the last few days.
At this point I want to humbly say a massive thank you to everyone who has followed and supported me though the challenges I’ve undertaken over the last decade. When I read your comments back after some rest and recovery its truly inspiring to read the positives from everyone. When I’ve got a fresher mind and can recognise that the negatives come from one or two individuals, whereas the positives come from numerous great people who really motivate and inspire me to continue with this madness…. #thanks
So going back to the numbers, as I thought and calculated, I could manage 10% more. I rode 121 hours, at an average speed of 30.15 kph which gave me the numbers to achieve this mammoth record. I stuck to the faster roads this time, and pretty much avoided anything with elevation – some of the days just look crazy if you look at where I rode, but these were the fastest roads for the least output, and to hit 3636.3 km in a week you need to save every ounce of energy as there’s no recovery anywhere!
So in short extremely proud and satisfied to have played my part in the progression of the 7 day cycling world record (3 times now), but I’m almost certain (almost) that that’s close to my absolute 100%, so going to leave it to some younger guns now #imgettingtoooldforthis
Thanks so much Bruce for sharing your incredible record with us! Since sending this Bruce was also the first UK athlete to achieve over 500,000km logged on Strava – 2 incredible records in one trip. What a legend.