What do you mean I have to cycle for 25 hours?
That’s the exact question I asked when LAB Series presented me with the Red Bull Timelaps challenge. I love a physical and mental challenge, and in the past I’ve cycled for long periods of time, however 25 hours would set a new record.
Luckily, despite still challenging my endurance and mental strength, I was relieved to learn I was going to share the load with an incredible like minded team of GB athletes and professional cyclists.
My team was made up of 5 males including myself; John Horsfall an endurance adventurer, Rhys Howells a GB athlete, George Marshall a professional cyclist and Andy Tennant a GB cyclist and Bradley Wiggin’s ambassador (Andy was to support and manage the team as he had an unexpected injury). So as you can imagine I felt confident going forward with the team mates LAB Series put me with and was ready to take the challenge on.
We were one team out of 125 on the day, totalling to 600 cyclists (mainly professionals and athletes) taking part. The challenge was to see which team could cycle the most laps around Great Windsor Park (6.7km) in the 25 hours given. Hold tight to find out where we came in the race...
Preparation & Training leading up to the race
Approximately 4 weeks prior to race day, I began a more specific training style using a Wattbike. The difference between a standard indoor bike and a Wattbike is that in seconds a Wattbike measures your power output, pedalling technique and heart rate. Not only that, its real ride technology replicates the resistance and sensation of riding outside. I would cycle for 2 hours at a time in the gym, which required a lot of determination; doing 2 hours of any exercise is tough going especially without the adrenaline you get on the day. Nevertheless it was necessary and I did this 4 times a week until 2 days prior to race day. 4 weeks may not seem a long time for most people and it probably isn’t, however I train regularly and already have high levels of fitness and endurance. If you are planning to take part in any sort of sporting challenge make sure you are more than prepared and seek professional advice on how to train.
Leading up to race day
2 days prior to race day I did not exercise at all but let my body rest. I simply stretched, mobilised and used a foam roller to prepare my muscles for the challenge ahead. These are all things I am familiar with, training hard, preparing my body, stretching and mobilising; however performing during the night was not something I had done before. The idea of sleeping in between intense cycles was a completely new concept and I wasn’t sure how I was mentally going to cope with it, all I could do was ensure I got enough sleep leading up to the race and ate the right foods for the most comfortable and effective performance.
I maintain a healthy balanced diet in my day to day life but when there is a challenge like Red Bull Timelaps ahead, I alter it to suit.
During endurance sporting events like these (this was high intensity and long distance), it is essential that the body has enough energy to burn without reaching exhaustion but also without feeling full and uncomfortable.
During training and prior to race day I consumed more complex carbs and good fats in the form of wholegrain rice, avocados, salmon and sweet potato. The complex carbs help give me that initial burst of energy and combined with the fats allowed the body to continue burning calories over a long period of time.
On race day I enjoyed avocado brownies in between my laps, these provided a great mixture of good fats, carbs and sugars so that I could refuel effectively. I knew I was going to be burning thousands of calories so this was so important for my energy levels. My experienced team mates also advised that I drank gel shots every 30 minutes to give me an additional boost of caffeine and sugar. Remember this wasn’t a slow pace cycle; this was fast and for hours at a time, we needed all the help we could get if we wanted to do well and maintain our pace.
Highlights and moments to remember
Being part of such a great brand was a huge highlight of the day; I also touched up on my skincare knowledge, something I’ve definitely neglected which I’m pretty sure a lot of men do too. We got a pre-race facial and demonstration and I’ve been using LAB Series products since. My favourite finds from the range have been the, solid water essence, age-less power V lifting cream and age rescue water charged gel cream. I find these products in particular, hydrate, energise and tighten my skin which is ideal for my active lifestyle.
When doing outdoor sports you want to be as comfortable as possible, having hydrated and protected skin can make such a difference during and after any sort of outdoor activity. The amount of times my skin has ended up dehydrated and weathered because of a lack of care, this time I felt refreshed and energised.
Although my skin felt energised, there were moments during the race that I struggled with the lack of sleep. It was a confusing one because at that moment of completing a lap the adrenaline kicks in and you’re buzzing but you’re so exhausted at the same time. This was a crazy feeling and definitely one I hadn’t experienced before.
Top Motivational Tip
As a team we decided to break down our given time slots and instead focused on reaching a 10 minute goal, once we completed 10 minutes we focused on the next 10. By breaking the time slot down into smaller chunks saved me mentally. Sometimes these challenges can be more mentally draining so this is definitely a technique I’d take from my team mates on future events.
We cycled are butts off (literally, I couldn’t feel my glutes) and we worked so well as a team, we managed to come 15th out of 125 teams, a result we were more than happy with.
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