A retail designer from East London and cycling’s answer to Forest Gump, Chris covered 12,674.6km in just over three months to raise awareness of a vital school called the Pace centre.
Chris, 27, is no stranger to tough cycling challenges. Last summer he became the first person to cycle for 24 hours around London’s Richmond Park. This time he has gone even bigger - slogging it out for at least five hours on the bike every day alongside his full-time job.
The rules of the 107 for 107 challenge are simple. At least 107 kilometres must be ridden each day from December 16th 2016 until April 1st 2017 - rolling over distance to the next day is not allowed. There are no rest days. All distance must be covered on the road or a Wahoo smart turbo trainer due to their accuracy and ability to replicate road gradient. Rollers are not allowed. Official distance will be uploaded to Strava.
Pace is a school in Aylesbury, Bucks, dedicated to transforming the lives of children up to the age of 18 with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy. The charity is founded on the belief that every child has the ability to learn and make progress, whatever physical or sensory challenges they face. A group of specialist teachers and therapists create programmes to support each of the 107 pupils and their families helping them to unlock their potential.
Chris explained: “I was first introduced to Pace through my cycling club, Ripcor. The club has been fundraising for the school for over ten years and some of the members have children who went there."
“Each of the 107 children at Pace face daily challenges. Whether it’s waking up, getting to and from school or inside the classroom, every element of their day requires complex planning. But seeing what Pace enables them to achieve, it’s just incredible. I want to make more people aware that schools like this exist and that they need funding to keep going."
“I knew I wanted take on an endurance challenge which also relies on careful daily planning. The number 107 has become special to me, I even wear it on my jersey. So riding for 107 days just seemed like a no- brainer!"
“Physically I was all over the place, mentally I was all over the place, but there was never really a doubt in my head about whether I’d be able to get up the next day and ride 107km again. I just told myself I haven’t got a choice.”
Caroline Bennett, Head of Fundraising at Pace, said: “When we found out what Chris is doing we were just amazed. The school exists to give children with motor disorders the tools they need to develop communications skills, access their education and gain their independence. People like Chris are vital in helping us continue that work, through raising awareness and donations. We’re so honoured to have him supporting our children.”
HOW DID HE DO IT?
With only so many hours in the day, planning was key. The majority of Chris’ days usually began at 4.30am, when he headed out in and around London to start racking up kilometres before work. He then had to jump back on the bike after work and finish the distance - while somehow managing to fit sleeping, stretching and a whole lot of eating.
Managing fatigue was a constant battle. Chris’ coach, Ken Buckley, was closely monitoring his daily heart rate, speed and power data to help him limit the effects of so much overtraining.
Chris explained: “A big part of being able to do this challenge was having the right tools in place. Having good tech and good kit I could rely on day in, day out was essential."
“But not getting a rest day was pretty brutal. It’s such a physical battle and Ken has been vital in helping to manage that. He could see when I’m getting tired, when I needed to hold back and helped me work out how best to manage the distance each day, so I had the best chance possible of completing it.”
IT’S NOT BEEN AN EASY JOURNEY
Chris has faced plenty of hurdles during the challenge - isolation, a severe sickness bug, not to mention the typically terrible British weather.
He explained: “I’ve definitely had my low points. Those times when I’ve cycled through the rain and the snow, and freezing my fingers to the point I thought they were going to drop off. I was even out through Storm Doris! Having that headwind to battle was painful. I looked down and I was doing 500 watts and 15kph, it was pretty crippling.
“On Day 39 I got so sick I couldn’t even leave the house. I’m pretty sure it was food poisoning. I had to stay off work and I was going between the bike and the toilet for two days. All I wanted to do is curl up in bed, but I knew I still had to get the distance done. It took me 9 hours to complete the distance on the turbo one day, I physically had no energy to turn the pedals."
“It shows what a big mental battle this whole thing is. And getting through that was a stubbornness more than anything. It’s the worst my body’s ever felt. But I knew there couldn’t be many days worse than that, so knowing that I got through that was a sort of personal boost.
“I also had to do a lot of riding on my own, and there were times when it felt isolating. One of the things getting me through this is the support from the cycling community, both friends and strangers. It’s been both amazing and humbling. Having random people show up to give me company out on rides, and sending encouraging messages online, it makes a big difference. It’s what makes the challenge doable for me.”
One of the biggest boosts for Chris came in his final week of the challenge, on day 103, when more than 60 riders turned up at London’s Regent’s Park at 7am to join him for laps.
Chris, who had put a call out on social media for friends and strangers to join his his ride, was overwhelmed by the turn-out.
He said: “When I turned up at the park and saw the huge group of people it was pretty surreal.”
“Obviously with so many miles to do, I was often riding alone and a lot of the time in the dark so that can be quite isolating. I guess when you’re wrapped up in a challenge like this you end up a bit in your own bubble, not realising who is looking in.”
“Seeing so many friends and strangers all show up to ride was so humbling. The company really has been priceless. It just goes to show the amazing camaraderie of the cycling community, I’m incredibly proud to be part of that.”