I can see the light long before I reach it. Like a twinkling star in the night sky, it promises to be a yearned for place to rest my weary legs. I imagine biting into a juicy hotdog at the next petrol station and getting jacked up on coffee and Coke for a double portion of caffeine. The forecourt guides me in. Just a few hundred yards to my salvation. As I bridge the gap, a quiet inkling turns into a deafening truth. Closed.

Every last ounce of strength leaves my body as I stare into the gaping hole of emptiness. But I can‘t go easy on myself for too long or there‘s no chance of me finishing within the time limit. I jump back in the saddle, re-focus and carry on. The next petrol station won‘t be too far away.


Got everything I need for any kind of puncture? Will my lights last through the long night? Have I got a rough idea of the huge course so I keep on the right track if I lose signal? Riding 400 km entirely unsupported calls for good organisational skills and creativity – several layers of duct tape on the handlebars have saved many a behind...


And, if at some point, your body screams for a break despite being in the peak of physical fitness, then there‘s nothing for it but to stop for a quick 10-minute power nap somewhere convenient. Whether it‘s a bank – preferably with underfloor heating – a bus shelter or just a cool spot under a tree. The time for sleep is after the finish, when the clock has stopped running and body has really earned some rest and recuperation.


I ride through the heavy morning mist into the rising sun. My concentration slips, I‘m frozen to the bone and starting to feel my physical limits. But I can‘t slow down yet – better still, if I go faster it will help against the cold. The finish is in sight and in a state of euphoria I get one last boost of energy as I cover the last few yards. Yet I‘ve barely crossed the line and they‘re already squabbling again: the angel on my left shoulder, the devil on my right. What are they arguing about? LET‘S DO IT AGAIN vs. NEVER AGAIN! I‘m pretty sure I know who‘ll win this time...

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