My fit­ness chal­lenge

How hard would it be to ride 107km ev­ery day for 107 days? Chris Hall de­cided to find out, all in the name of char­ity

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Paul Knott

The prospect of tak­ing on an en­durance chal­lenge was noth­ing new to Chris Hall. He had al­ready com­pleted a gru­elling ride across Ro­ma­nia, as well as a mind-numb­ing and equally phys­i­cally tough 24-hour ride around Rich­mond Park. But late last year he took on a far more in­tim­i­dat­ing ven­ture: to ride 107km per day for 107 con­sec­u­tive days, rais­ing money for chil­dren’s char­ity the Pace Cen­tre, while hold­ing down a full-time job.

“I ac­tu­ally changed jobs about 80 days into the chal­lenge. I’d been work­ing two jobs do­ing de­sign con­sul­tancy and prop­erty man­age­ment. It was a nine-to-five but re­al­is­ti­cally it was a nine un­til when­ever it was done, which could be as late as 11pm,” says the 28-year-old.

Chang­ing jobs gave Hall greater flex­i­bil­ity and a more en­tic­ing com­mute from his London home, tak­ing in some scenic roads into Kent.

The dif­fi­cultly of Hall’s task was not merely about the distance in­volved. He also had harsh win­ter weather to con­tend with, in­clud­ing a few days of rid­ing through Storm Doris. The fi­nal 107km, on the 107th day, in­volved rid­ing the gru­elling Flan­ders sportive in Bel­gium. On cer­tain days, Hall al­lowed him­self to cover some of the rid­ing on a turbo in­doors.

“I rode about 15 per cent of the to­tal distance in­side, but I’d only re­sort to it if I was very sore and achy. This meant I could track my heart rate and train­ing zones with­out push­ing my­self over the limit in the course of get­ting the distance done.”

To avoid fall­ing short of the distance as the re­sult of tech­ni­cal glitches such as GPS in­con­sis­ten­cies, Hall rode un­til his Garmin in­di­cated 112km — al­low­ing a 5km buf­fer. This meant his to­tal ended up be­ing closer to 13,000km than the sched­uled 11,500km.

Nat­u­rally, Hall hit upon some un­fore­see­able prob­lems along the way, in­clud­ing a wor­ry­ing two-day ill­ness half­way through. Just one more day feel­ing un­well would have put an end to his chal­lenge, he ad­mits. As it was, he spent nine hours suf­fer­ing on a turbo-trainer, des­per­ately strug­gling for the en­ergy to rack up the re­quired kilo­me­tres.

“The ill­ness crept up on me from nowhere,” he says. “I woke up sweaty, achy and dizzy, and re­mem­ber look­ing out­side and see­ing it was hor­ri­ble [weather], but I just thought, I’m go­ing to have to do this in­doors — partly be­cause I’ll be closer to a toi­let.”

Hall was thank­ful for the sup­port he re­ceived from friends and fam­ily: “A high point was when my friends or­gan­ised a load of peo­ple to turn up in Re­gent’s Park at 5.30am one morn­ing 70 days into the chal­lenge. I started my ride and one bloke turned up, then another, then another. Then there were eight, then there were 20, then there were 40. I was speech­less.”

That’s not to men­tion the gen­eros­ity shown by mem­bers of the public along the way, even in un­likely places.

“One morn­ing I strug­gled to get my­self out of bed, which meant I had to ride 80km after work. This guy called Richie who I had never met be­fore mes­saged me on Face­book ask­ing if I wanted a wheel to sit on and a bit of com­pany. He turned up with a flask of hot choco­late and a packet of sweets and said, ‘You tell me how fast we need to go and I’ll hold that pace.’ He was a com­plete stranger who I now con­sider a re­ally good friend.”

On the fi­nal day of the chal­lenge, as the day’s to­tal ap­proached 107km, Hall be­gan to fear the prospect of an an­ti­cli­mac­tic fin­ish on a dual car­riage­way in the mid­dle of Bel­gium. Thank­fully the course turned off the busy road and into coun­try­side, where Hall was able to re­flect on his achieve­ment.

“We stopped and I was com­pletely over­whelmed; I burst into tears. A lot of it was think­ing about the fact it was over for me: three and a half months of my life.”

His thoughts promptly turned to the chil­dren his chal­lenge had set out to help.

“My time rid­ing is still re­ally just a pin­prick com­pared to what some of the kids have to deal with. I kind of felt sad, as I knew that I could go back to a nor­mal life but those at Pace can’t. That’s where all the emo­tions came in.”

The next morn­ing, hav­ing spent sev­eral hours ev­ery day for the past 107 days rid­ing, Hall was free from any obli­ga­tion to ride. Surely he treated him­self?

“I got up early in the morn­ing and just thought I’d go for a lit­tle spin, re­ally ca­sual, but it was re­ally cold and I was freez­ing. I just thought, do you know what, I don’t need to do this. It was so re­fresh­ing: I could just stop and not have to worry.”

Hall’s chal­lenge raised funds and aware­ness for Pace Cen­tre kids

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