Some tales of when cyclists pushed themselves beyond their capacity... and lived to tell us about it
At some stage, a cyclist will inevitably push themself beyond the limit of physical and mental endurance. It’s all too easy to go slightly too far, be slightly under-prepared or be slightly off-form on a big ride.
We recently asked Cycling Weekly readers to tell us about when they pushed themselves beyond their cycling limit. Here are a selection of answers, brought to you in association with Decathlon.
What was the most memorable time you pushed yourself beyond your cycling limit? Tell us in the comments section below.
The first day on got back on my bike after treatment (successful) for cancer. My wingman looked after me as a struggled for a 20-mile loop, stopping twice to puke. I did it, though.
Not checking which way the wind was heading when getting on a train from Newcastle to Berwick and cycling 75 miles back into a headwind the whole way with a mixture of off-road and on-road with the cyclo-cross bike. If it wasn’t on Strava, I could have quite easily given up.
I had just bought my new Trek Domane in June. In August, I was the first road user caught behind a slow-moving farm tractor, going approximately 23mph. I gathered my strategy to safely pass the tractor, which then surprisingly seemed to speed up. I had to pedal steadily at 25mph minimum for a stretch I wasn’t used to (or admit defeat… never). My legs were like jelly after that.
Thinking I could smash 75 miles on the Surrey Downs sportive, just because I had my first shiny new road bike, deluded thinking I was Chris Froome while smoking 20 a day, overweight, and drinking lots at the time. I failed abysmally and ended up doing the 45 miles, sick, beyond exhausted, my body felt like it had met Mike Tyson for 12 rounds in the ring. Those 45 miles were pain and hell, but a life-changing event. I quit smoking, rarely drink now, and have since ridden from London to Amsterdam raising £1150 for Prostate cancer.
First time I ever rode the Dragon Ride. I’d never done anywhere near 100 miles, let alone 120 mountainous miles! My legs cramped so bad at the top of the Bwlch that I had to collapse onto a grass verge still clipped into my pedals.
The Marmotte 2010 in 40°C heat. Raced to the bottom of the Alpe to beat the time limit, then it took me over two hours to get to the summit. I resorted to counting the white lines in the road maintain my focus. Managed to cycle all the way up unlike several people walking and lying down at the side of the road.
Taking part in the Guinness World Record attempt with Breeze in August 2015. Sure, they were static bikes, but I went into the red because I recognised the importance of the day. I could hardly walk later but it was worth it.
2016 National Hilll-climb Championships. Memorable because it was all captured on my GoPro. Including being lifted off the bike at the finish line.
I cycled 170 miles from the Shire to Mordor with just a jam sandwich in my back pocket. Really stupid idea but a really great ride.
On the A1 doing a 10-mile time trial, they started to cone off the inside lane for motorway maintenance. I was so on the rivet, I didn’t see the large truck in the outside lane. When I did finally notice it I almost had to come to a compete stop. PB is still 26:01, but at least I didn’t get squished.
Miles 85 to 93 on my first century ride, on a $149 off-the-rack bike. Heavy and slow, and all uphill, but I wasn’t about to give up. Finished it, and got a proper bike two months later.
I hit the limit trying to push forward and escape (unsuccessfully) that car that ran over me on April 7. Getting on a turbo trainer, on a modified old mountain bike that I could just about sit on, 16 weeks after that car had crushed my pelvis and some of the internal organs. I did only about 8km on that day and needed help to climb off the bike, but it was well worth the effort.