550km Singlespeed Charity Ride for MIND – Completed August 2015
This is a story of how a not particularly fit cyclist made a stupid plan to ride over 550km with no sleep on a bike with no gears –for a drunken bet at a wedding, and somehow did it.
My general plan in life, which usually works out pretty well – is to agree to do things I cant do, then find ways to do them. In this particular case, I can say without taking time to consider – this was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cycle a lot, I don’t own a car – I can drive – but have only cycled since I sold everything to go to university, which was 13 years ago. But I`ve only been trying to cycle fast for perhaps the last 2 of those. I also never used to cycle single-speed, it was only due to freak accident that I bought a single-speed bike, out of pure necessity when my Claud Butler Chinook was stolen (my friend Ben subsequently got it back for me, but that’s another story).
I started preparing for this over a year ago, although with a job to do – I`ve done an embarrassingly low number of miles. I`ve mostly trusted in the core level of bike fitness gained from years of commuting followed up by a few very long rides to help mentally. In total the only very long rides I did to prepare were, a few 100km`s, a night 200km, a 320km, a 190km & 330km.
The 200km night ride was actually in some ways the worst of them all.
I did it on purpose through the night pretty early in the year, the temps dropped to 3 degrees – and it was pretty nightmarish ! These rides conditioned me for what kinds of things go wrong over long distances, and also mentally prepared me for the ups and downs the mind goes through. Looking back now, it seems really slow.
Planning the route final was actually really tricky, and I spent several entire weekends trying to balance avoiding hills, avoiding city centres, keeping the distance plausible and avoiding dangerous roads. I`m pretty pleased with the first 350km of this route, but as you will see later – the B7076 and B7078 have many long stretches with a road surface that is
really too rough for a road bike, its so bad in places that its literally impossible to exceed 20km/h on the flat. If I do it again, I`ll change that. Here is the exact route that I followed.
In fact I think most of the physical base fitness came from taking the Garmin 800 bike GPS on my commuter bike to work and back, which is a daily 28km round trip. Its reasonably up and down with 3 hills to get over. I really improved my fitness by pushing very hard on this route. I worked my average speeds up from 25km/h to over 30km/h. Which on my Peugeot Premier Carbolite (the cheapest, heaviest road-frame Peugeot made) with mud guards, a backpack – and 48/18 ratio gearing is a pretty good workout. There are maybe only half a dozen people cycling in to work on my route, and maybe only 3 on decent road bikes. So without the Garmin its very hard to judge your own pace, but I can say happily that I can count on one hand the number of times I`ve been overtaken on my commute.
During the course of the year, I worked my average speeds up and up. Starting with a 200km ride at under 22km/h, progressing to 330km at nearly 25km/h. I worked in a few high intensity rides too
and my pace over an hour, improved from 29 to 32km/h. I also steadily reduced the tall gearing on my two single-speeds, my commuter began with 52/16 and eventually on my carbon bike
in reduced it to 45/18, actually in addition to making the hills a bit easier I actually went faster over all distances with 2.5:1 gearing. With 45/18, I spin out about 43km/h – which is 150rpm.
Most of my rides I average over 100rpm. I find that single-speed the real limitation isnt perhaps that its much slower than having a geared bike (which it certainly is to an extent) – its more that to attack the hills – out the saddle ever time, isnt slower, but it does wear you out alot faster. Often on long rides with the club or friends with geared bikes, I`d have no trouble keeping pace – but just find myself exhausted as distances crept towards 80km. So I`d normally finish fairly slowly.
After having cycled 320km to Oxenholme in 13h-10mins, I realised that I wasnt going to get any fitter or more prepared – not without giving up work – or spending all my evenings out riding. Which I just dont have time to do. I think I`d have been too tired to do more riding anyway, I already felt exhausted most of the time just pushing it on my commute.
During the course of the last few months I actually put on 4kg in body weight, which I mostly attribute to endlessly carbing up to prepare for the expected 550km attempt, only for it to be rained out, or rendered implasible due to head winds. So I did alot of bulking up for nothing ! That probably happened about ten times.
Eventually I got a good looking window of opportunity. Temperatures overnight around 10 Deg C, wind direction mostly north – turning slowly into a very very slight headwind in the last 200km – and only a couple of light showers predicted in the north.
The weather looked almost perfect so I decided to head off, I wasn’t in great cycling condition – having done no serious rides for over a month. But I knew I was probably in good-enough shape to try. I know from training that flat out my maximum speeds go as follows, over 30km = 32km/h,over 80km = 30km/h, over 200km = 24.5km/h & over 330km = 23.5km/h. So the plan was to aim for a minimum of 22km/h over 550km, however I knew that due to exhaustion and climbs that to achieve 22 average – I would in fact have to be going at a very good pace on the flat. Maybe 32km/h on the flat. With a 45/18 gear ratio, on some of the big climbs I can drop to a slow horrible grind of 10km/h when I`m tired. It’s a balance because after perhaps 15hours in the saddle the horror of rashes come in, which can get so bad you nearly cant pedal sitting down anymore. So its paramount to finish the ride as fast as possible. As this will happen if you are going fast or slow.
Organizing support proved very difficult logistically so I decided to head off into the ride on my own, although this was probably not very wise – and in general I would not recommend to others. I knew it would maybe not happen this year if I waited until I could get the support prepared AND had the weather just right. I tried to cut down the baggage, but in the end my Camelback with spare tyre, two innertubes, tools and waterproofs was 3kg, with a further 2kg on the bike from the under-seat bag (which had spare batteries for the lights) and two extended size water bottles. In total its about 6kg added to the bike, which normally only weighs 7kg itself !!! So effectively the bike weight went up 85% ! 3kg of that was on my back, which I knew would cause pain later, as that weight is reacted through the saddle….
I have discovered the joys of 24hour service stations, which enable you to carry only the minimum food and water, and buy the rest at the services. I drank from the service stations and kept the water bottles on the bike only for the very long stretches of time without services. Of which there are a few. This is a good way to conserve water for when its really needed.
Zero km, Leamington Spa: Saturday 29th August 11:30am
I set off at a pretty good pace, as there was a slight tail wind. So I could sit happily at 32km/h on the flat without much effort. But I very rarely ride with such a lot of baggage on the bike, and even up smaller hills I could feel it take more energy than usual to keep going.
50km: Little Hay pumping station, I really like passing these old buildings. They`re so out of place – but built so well they`re still looking like new.
I could already feel the first signs of tiredness creeping in, a very slight dullness in the legs. Hands beginning to feel the need to change grip often, this was not good. Normally I should get to at least 85km before any tiredness comes. I was averaging over 25.5km-h at the stage, but was not pushing, I wanted to get to 26km/h average before I arrived at the Peak District, as I knew I would loose at least 2km/h average speed going over those climbs. So to get to the far side achieving a pace of 24km/h average, would mean keeping between 30 and 33km/h on anything flat.
Just north of the big JCB factory is where the serious hills start, a sudden leap up into the Peak District foot-hills. I`ve done this part several times before, and familiarity means few surprises. Although the added weight this time was making itself known, I suspected already that there were two hills in the peaks where I`d have to get off the bike and walk.
120km: The Mermaid Inn, Elkstone. Peak District
It now became a bit of a concentration game, watching for holes, broken glass, animals – while trying to stay on the right road and keep pedalling. Its 160km and for the first time I think, maybe, maybe I can do it today. I have a whole pack of Co-Codamol painkillers but know I cant afford to take any this early as I`ll run into the maximum allowed well before the end. When cycling the metabolism seems to clear them out the system very fast.
The descents from the Peak District comes, at 190km – its dark and I get genuinely scared. I`m cold, I`ve been pedalling for maybe 8 hours and I`m going down a hill at over 60km/h in the dark – alone. I would be going over 75km/h but I`m dabbing the brakes gently every few seconds to keep the speed down, there is a side wind and I feel the bars wobble, my arms feel a bit fatigued to hold them steady so I try to be safe and slow down. But if I slow too much I my speed will drop and I`ll never get there on-time.
Its now about 11pm and I`m starving. To save weight I`m not carrying any food. So I have to stop every time I want to eat. Amazingly in Littleborough at 211km there is a Chinese takeaway still open. The New China Palace on Todmorten road.
I stop and get a beef in blackbean sauce and rice. They are just closing up so I have to sit on the wall outside in the dark to eat it. I feel a lot better after a full meal, and know I shouldn’t need to eat now for another 5 hours or so. Which is just as well as its 11.30pm in the nowhere between the Peak district and Manchester .
I`m praying to get to 260km where the route meets the A6 north from Preston and the road is nearly flat parallel to the coast for 100km all the way to Kendal. You can get some really good speed up on the A6, and I easily sat for 4 hours at >30km/h. My average speed went up to about 24km/h, after having dropped to 22 after the climbs in the Peak District and coming across west through old mining towns. I`m concentrating mentally now on getting to 330km, which is the farthest I have ever cycled before. This will get me to Oxenholme, just where the biggest climb on the route begins, the ascent to Shap.
Somewhere near Broughton I stop at a 24h services and treat myself to a very large coffee and some dubious vegetable sushi. Its still dark but at least its warm and I have food.
It is later, the morning is coming, and its getting bright as I pass Kendal at 320km. But its very cold and I have to put on all my remaining clothing. The horrid slope of the Shap climb comes into view on the Garmin, its so high I cant see the top of the hill on the screen. Its almost continual climbing for 20km, to 400m altitude. I`ve never done it before and try to edit the gradient map on my Garmin to judge if I think I can do it. I`ve been over the gradients for hours in front of my PC at home, but for some reason I feel compelled to look again now – as if somehow it will be flatter.
I get out the saddle, the climb starts and I will not be back on the seat for 2 hours. Thankfully I have not pushed my legs too far before now, having never driven them into the burning red heat of lactic buildup. But I just dont have enough energy to attack the climb contemptuously – in my standard fashion – so I settle in to the slow grind of “pull with right arm, push down right leg..” then reverse and repeat for 2 hours. I`m averaging about 8km/h up some of this climb. I have to stop after what feels like hours, I check the Garmin – it says I`m about 1/3 up. Not too bad, but I have to stop as I can feel my heart rate must be nearly 190bpm. I`m not wearing my heart-rate monitor, but I can feel it pounding so hard I can hear it and my breath is ragged.
5mins later I carry on, after another period of exertion the Garmin says I`m 2/3 of the way up but fog has closed in at this height, its about 300meters up now. Its very cold and I have to stop to put on my waterproof jacket as the fog is making me wet and freezing cold. I can hear engines, and perhaps 20 bikers fly past into the fog. God I hope they can see my two rear LED lights. There has been a rock fall in the final climb – blocking the right hand lane – and a set of temporary traffic lights has been put in. Its red and I have to stop, maybe 100 meters from the summit, I say a bad word – I know if I stop it will be brutally hard to start again. Eventually the light turns green but from a standstill I just cant move the pedals, it’s briefly over a 10% gradient right at the top and I have to get off and walk it.
Nearly at Shap: 345km
I try to clip in the pedals at the top, but they wont clip into the cranks! I`m too tired to care and roll down the hill for a while to get out of the freezing fog. I stop half way down and inspect my shoes, the walk up the final climb of Shap has destroyed the soft plastic of the cleats, no wonder they wont engage the pedals.
I sit and spend some time carefully scraping off the worst of the dangling bits of plastic and try again, they don’t engage positively but they also don’t seem to come out. It will have to do, so I carry on. Luckily now its almost 50km of pure downhill all the way to Carlisle. So I can recover a bit, I drink the last of my water, and eat the last of the food. I need to find a services ! Its been 340km and I`m still going. But doubts are creeping in, I`m incredibly tired – not so much from pedalling as just 18 hours of riding and concentrating on avoiding manhole covers, glass and cars – while all the time thinking about maintaining enough speed without pushing myself too far too soon. Its cold and my knees are hurting. But near Carlisle the sun is up in the morning and it gets warmer, I stop at a service station just before the Town – the suns warmth has a very regenerative effect on both my morale and muscles.
I plug my external battery pack into the Garmin as its battery light is going yellow and complaining. I leave the bike outside, go into the services and get a coffee. I stand next to the bike outside – drinking the coffee and letting the Garmin 800 charge. I press the screen to wake it up so I can see how the charging is going. Nothing happens, I unplug the charger and press ON.
It beeps and displays “Press and Hold Reset to Save Current activity”. I don’t know what this means, its never asked me to do that before. I don’t want to save the current activity ! I press the touch-screen, nothing happens. I switch it off and on again, it beeps and says “reading maps” for 5 seconds before the screen goes white and the goes dead. This cant be happening !
I`m actually very calm, perhaps I`m too tired to panic ?
I know that once into Scotland the route is mostly fairly straightforward, if I can just get to the B7076 – I think I can probably find Glasgow. But I can remember that its all side roads from here to Gretna Green, as I cannot use the M74 motorway. I buy an A>Z map, tear out 3 pages and throw the 95% of the new map into the bin immediately. The girl at the counter looks at me oddly. I send a garbled text message to Gareth (who`s waiting for me in Glasgow) about my GPS being dead.
The problem is the map pages are not very detailed and I cant really see the small road names- but I think its enough to carry on. Its either that or I find the train station in Carlisle and go home. My motivation is nearly zero now, and morale is rock bottom. I know now I wont have a data-log of my ride and I may struggle to even find the route…but at 350km in…I cant stop now. I know I have “only” 200km left to ride, and I know I can do 200km in 8 hours. Its about 11am, in 8 hours it will be 7pm and sunset is 8.30 in Glasgow this time of year. If I can just get there before it gets dark I`ll be ok I think.
I spend the next 45mins trailing around industrial parks to the north of Carlisle looking for the back road to Gretna, by asking a sucession of dog-walkers/joggers/etc I find my way to Gretna. Its taken maybe 1.5 hours to go 20km. This is very slow, I`ll never get there at this pace I think.
A short time later, I round the corner and see a sign “WELCOME TO SCOTLAND”. 390km
Thank god, I stop the bike and take a photo. I`m in Scotland now I think, surely Glasgow will be easy to find now and it must be less than 190km left, 190 km seems like a piffling distance compared to that which I`ve covered – maybe I can do it I think. Maybe…
Near Lockerbie: 410km
Now on the road to Glasgow, and going smoothly, except the saddle begins to hurt more and more. Luckily I brought a small sachet of Vaseline, which helps a fair bit. But without the Garmin to guide me the climbs are maddening and distances and time all start to merge into one giant unknown that seems ever moving.
The last 150km were mentally equivalent to the first 350km. The appauling road surfaces on almost all the entire stretch of the B7076 from Gretna Green to Glasgow made progress madenningly slow. Some stretches had been resurfaced, these were joyous and for a few minuites I started really enjoying myself – I could easily get to 28 or even 30km/h – before it again deteriorated into what –for a bicycle with 23c tyres at 100psi – might as well have been rubble. Large sections of the north of the B7076 have a “cycle path”, which is more to say that council operatives put signs with “bicycle path” written on them next to various stretches of overgrown and cracked pavement. My favourite moment was skidding to a halt – having been careering along barely conscious and almost cycling into the hilarious steel-pipe “U-shaped-barriers” that local authorities are pleased to put across cycle paths – in case of what ? excessive progress? At this stage stopping is maddening as its needing a lot of effort to get back up to speed again.
Above: Crawford, 460km
My luck is holding however, and I cross many damp sections of road where its clear it has rained just a few hours before. But nowhere on the entire journey do I actually get caught in a shower – which in 33 hours up half the length of Britain is nearly unbelievable.
There are precious few shops up this entire stretch of the last 150km to Glasgow, and I`m saved by a couple of truck stops, who let me take my bike inside. I sacrifice a full hour near Leasmagow to have a full sit down meal and a two pots of tea. Everyone is really nice, and even though the truck stop is full of truckers (as it should be) – I get several comments of “nice bike” and
“where are you off to ?”. Its obvious to anyone out here that someone alone on a bike is obviously in the middle of “an adventure”. I feel a great deal better after the food and tea.
At this stage I was carrying on almost purely by having passed into some sort of weird twilight-zone. In which – where where I was – and what I was doing, were almost something that was just “happening” and that my presence was nearly as an outside observer. I cant quite describe it in any other terms. I`ve heard people talking about a “cycling-zen” state on very long distance rides. I think that at that point I was in too much saddle-pain to feel overly “monastic” about it – and I don’t think I could quite go as far as “zen-state”. But its definitely a very different feeling to being on a normal ride of a few hours.
I had to develop some techniques to keep going mentally, firstly I would think to myself “can I do another minuite ?”. The answer was always, “yes” – because in reality I was physically fine, just mentally tired and a bit cold. I had to repeat that in my head for quite a few of the worst parts of the ride.
The second thing was saying to myself, that every meter I cycle I will never have to do again (this will probably turn out to be a lie, but the point is I wont HAVE to do them again….only if I choose to). I knew that if I gave up, I`d only have to start all over again.
This was really useful as a way to stay focused.
Lastly, I was trying to avoid thinking about actually finishing, so the whole ride was made up in my head of ten rides of 55km (10%). Occasionally I would glance at the Garmin and it might
say something like “400km remaining”. If I actually concentrated on that, I found it was very debilitating. Somehow, considering it as ten rides of 55km seemed far more achievable – as 55km
was small-fry and “ten” was the number of fingers I had – which seemed both quantifiable and reasonable as a small-ish number. Somewhere in my head when I considered it in those terms it
felt like a small part of my brain replied with “ok-thats a reasonable thing to try, we give you permission to carry on”.
As I saw the first sign for Glasgow with a mile-marker “Glasgow 17” I could not help but know I`d somehow done it. By this point it was about 8pm and was nearly pitch black. I had really wanted to get there before it had got dark, but no such luck as without GPS navigating through the suburbs of Glasgow in the dark by 2 pages of A>Z was proving a major drain on time. The main artery into the city is all motorway and so un-passable. It took nearly an hour to go the last 17miles, which were downhill.
As I reached the city centre I recognised the streets, and with only 3 corners to go – I knew for the first time that I had really ACTUALLY done it. I`d not eaten for hours and all my water was gone, but I rounded the final corner and saw George Square before me – I rolled up onto the pedestrian area of the square and saw Gareth, Lynne and Colin waiting for me.
I stopped and threw my backpack and helmet onto the nearest bench and did what I had been imagining doing for nearly a year – holding the bike up above in victorious glee.
George square: 551km, 33 hours elapsed without sleep – 24hours pedalling.
105,000 pedal turns later, and well over 6000m climbed in one stint – what do I think ?
In retrospect I would have done many things differently, and the challenge was in the end of a very different nature to the one I had envisaged over a year before when I had promised Gareth at his wedding in Glasgow that I would cycle up to see him again and raise money for charity.
Firstly – it is my advice to consider every long ride as simply going for a short ride several times, there is naturally no logical difference – but for me this turned the absurd into the achievable. I think its simply a mental hangup – stemming from many sources – for example having spent many years of my childhood flying from Glasgow to London – I had spent the equivalent of days on end staring a screen on a jet-aircraft saying things like “580km remaining”. Thus building a mental association of that distance being a “thing one does with axial-thrust-turbines”.
Once on a bicycle, the lack of both air-hostesses bearing provisions – or turbines – become readily apparent at an early stage.
Incredibly enough the next morning my legs –although very stiff- were basically fine and I had no real muscle pains anywhere. I think this was partially due to the terrible roads in Scotland on the B7076 and B7078, which really limited my speed. The pace I had managed until Kendal was fairly blistering and although (thanks Garmin !) I cant prove it right now, it was somewhere between 24 and 25km/h average speed until about 330km. Which was about 10% above my target, and with better roads and without the lack of GPS making fast progress difficult I would probably have pushed much more in the last 10 hours and possibly reached my physical cycling-engine limits.
I can also say that personally I do not (ever) find it good to drink fizzy drinks. This is especially so on cycles, and if I drink Coke on a long ride I feel absolutely sick. In general
I ate only cooked breakfasts, and drank water, dilute orange juice and if I was tired – tea and if desperate – coffee.
In the end what I discovered was that the real difficulties of a ride like this, especially alone – are nearly all mental. Nearly every minuite I was considering managing my pace, is my average on target ? Should I try to push my speed here ? Do I stop at this point to eat or push on to the next point so I get that dangerous section done before it gets dark? Should I put on more clothes to keep warm or save them until later in the ride when I`ll need them more – and they wont be cold and soaked in sweat?
All the time this is going on, I`m thinking about avoiding gravel on the roads, managing traffic passing and remembering to not put on all the front lights at once as I don’t have enough batteries to run full beam on all lights at once through the whole night.
On top of this is the constant worry, knowing I`ve never done this distance and genuinely not knowing if I am actually capable of doing it.
I would say looking back, that the concentration – and constant mental adjustments to speed and planning are much more taxing than the physical challenge. I spent about 25 hours of the 33 cycling, and I`m confident that with a better route and a working GPS that I could cut that to 22 cycling /28 elapsed.
There were moments during the ride when I never wanted to cycle again, anywhere. One of these was half way up the 400m climb to Shap. The next day this had mellowed to perhaps just not doing quite such a long distance again.
A week later, I`m genuinely hoping to complete a full 600km ride in under 30 hours elapsed – which would put me into the top 10% of amateur AUDAX riders. But with winter closing in, its unlikely I`ll be able to do it soon.
-Maximum 2 hours between eating and drinking stops
-Average of 1 hour between drinking at least half a litre
-Two full meals will be needed
-Before setting off wear ONLY just washed clothes. No exceptions, not even one ride.
-Take a small zip-bag with a scoop of vaseline, and “apply” at least every 200km. Or be prepared to suffer later.
– Wear two sets of shorts. I wore a Castelli Thermosuit with another set of shorts underneath. This is a great way of taking out
the chafing movement and adding a touch of padding.
– Before heading out I “applied” three layers of ointments. Aloe-vera gel (excellent anti-bacterial agent), then Vaseline then Chamois Buttr.
– For lights I used a VOLT300 with three batteries, an URBAN350 and several small flashing LEZYNE lights.
– Shoes were GIRO Empire, the saddle a solid carbon SPEEDNEEDLE MARATHON. The shoes are amazing, probably I`d not use this saddle again for that distance though !
-The Garmin 800 will crash if you record more than about
300km in one session. From forums it seems that this is a non-solvable issue, so the way forward
is to press “lap/reset” every 200km or so, then stitch the segments together at the end.
– If your Garmin does crash, hold down LAP/RESET and START buttons and turn it on while still holding them down. This does a hard-reset which will delete all your settings and activities.
It will not delete your courses, I wish I had known this in Carlisle….
-Personally although Strava has alot of useful features, the only reliable way I get turn-by-turn directions to work is using BikeRouteToaster. Remember to activate turn-by-turn for every new route on your Garmin before heading out by selecting the spanner-icon. I save my routes from here as TCX, and in the export screen remember to activate turn warnings before you click save. I know some people say that GPX from Strava works fine but for me – BikeRouteToaster is the only reliable way to get it to work. However I can also say that sometimes the turn-by-turn “BLEEP!”s stop coming up after a few hours and I solve this by going back in the Garmin screen to courses then “stop following” the current course then
starting it again. As long as you dont press “lap/reset” it will keep recording the route for you (until 300km…hhaha)
-Your Garmin 800 battery will last perhaps 8 hours on map-screen (or any screen with graphics). If you leave it on one of the data-screens with the backlight on maybe 15second timeout you`ll get perhaps 12hours. An external battery pack like the VERTO PEBBLE 3700mAh will recharge it via USB fully in about 80minuites on the move. Its configured such that you can plug it into the Garmin and still get directions and so on while charging. If you try the same with just a battery, you need a special USB cable – otherwise it trips the Garmin into thinking you`ve connected it to a PC and so it wont charge AND navigate at once. With the VERTO this isnt an issue. Rather than cycling with the VERTO plugged in, you should run the Garmin down to 20% or so before plugging the VERTO in and charging it up to 100% again. This is much more efficient both electrically and convenience wise.
Its unlikely to work well when it rains as to plug it in, you need to pull out the rubber water-boot. So get it done in one or two hits.
-Do not carry things on your back, do not carry things on your back, do not…
-Rehearse the full route in parts, not just the first half several times.
-A ride of this length solo, without being part of a group of cyclists is unlikely to be mentally possible without a significant goal to achieve at the end.
-Physical fitness is very important but it can be done at only moderate condition providing there is a very strong mental goal to keep you moving. If you are fit enough to cycle for 1 hour at 32km/h by yourself, you can definitely (physically) ride over 500km in one go.
– It is better to increase ride distances in lumps of maximum 100km at a time.
– The most dangerous phase is overnight, because the body clock tries to shut you down. The next day may be “longer awake” but the body clock is working with you during daylight. You need to be able to sustain very high levels of spatial awareness and alertness – otherwise it would be very dangerous staying safe in traffic.
There is an organization in the UK called AUDAX, where people get together to do rides of 100,200,300,400,600 & 1200km. The cut-off in an AUDAX ride of 600km is 40 hours. I`d got to 550km in 33 hours elapsed, so extrapolating would have done 600 in about 36 hours. Knowing that there are probably at least 300 people in the UK who do rides of the sort of distance I`d done (and a small sub-cultural tribe of whom even do them on single-speeds as well) was a comfort as I knew it was obviously possible for an amateur cyclist to achieve.
Looking at the above chart, my guess for adding 3 hours to my time for another 50km puts me exactly on the 50th percentile for finishers of 600km sanctioned events. Given the terrible roads on the last 100km and GPS failure. I`m very happy with that as a first attempt at a ride of this distance.
Also of comfort is that my previous longest ride was 330km, which means I increased the distance 66% in one jump. Which is probably normally inadvisable, so I did well to manage that extra bit of conditioning that was missing.
After recovering fully, I`m now planning whats next !