There’s been a bit of a changing of the guard within cycling over the last few years. Perhaps brought on by a pandemic instigated change in priorities, perhaps driven by a desire to explore more of the world on our doorstep, perhaps due to fatigue with the mantra of ‘faster, harder, better’, suddenly ‘exploring, enduring, discovery’ are the words many live to ride by.
Adventure cycling is far from new: Audax UK was founded in 1976, but the romanticism of high-profile gravel bike races has perhaps elevated the status of endurance events to fame they’ve never enjoyed before.
And it's not all about dirt. Brands like Specialized don't u-turn on 'aero is everything' with a bike like the Aethos - designed for the joy of riding, not for going fast - if market trends don't suggest they should.
“If you can achieve something like this, then other things in life can seem quite easy,” says Kinesis ambassador Rupert Robinson, of his experience riding the 1,000 kilometre ‘All Points North’ ride; perhaps it’s the sentiment of enduring against the odds that captures the interest of so many.
A long-term time trialist and member of UK cycling club Crawley Wheelers, Robinson is not an elite athlete, and nor is he paid to ride - factors which mean he ticks the boxes of a modern-day cycling hero.
Prior to his preparations for this challenge, which takes in 10 checkpoints within the North of England, Robinson's previous longest distance ride had been 287 miles in a 12-hour time trial.
“[I rode] 290 miles in practice… then I thought I could easily get to 300, if I can get to 300 I can get to 350, 400..” he says, in the short film produced by Edinburgh film maker Markus Stitz.
For most of us, 1,000 kilometres might seem a stretch, but Robinson maintains that with enough self-belief, his is a feat many of us could go on to achieve. Cycling achievements don't have to be 'monstrous' or 'unbelievable' anymore, indeed, some of the best - the most inspiring - are 'just about manageable'.
“There's times when you're wondering why you're doing it, why are you pushing yourself through this, why are you telling your body to keep going, but at the end of it, it's because you really want to,” Robinson muses, between shots which vary from the Cumbria’s highest passes to motorway McDonalds stops - showcasing the rollercoaster reality of a 60-hour ride in all its unglamorous glory.
“You can apply that [mentality] to different things in life, if you really want to do something then you can. It's going to be hard, but you know, just crack on and persevere,” the vet rider says.
And crack on he did: Robinson completed the ride in 60 hours, 16 minutes, sleeping for less than an hour in total, arriving at the finish point ninth of 45 finishers.
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Cycling Weekly's Digital Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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