How the CW5000 inspired riders through 2020

Last year thousands of riders took on Cycling Weekly’s challenge of riding 5,000 miles in 2020, some made it, some didn’t but they all got something from it. Vern Pitt spoke to some of those that took it on about how it benefited them and their riding and got some tips on how you too can complete the challenge.

Gethin Howells -  The gravel enthusiast

Howells bought his first road bike 13 years ago to train for mountain biking then realised he was much better on the road than the dirt. The cardiac physiologist and third cat racer decided to do the CW5000 because “I like figures, i like a target”. 

“It helps me to get out of the house, that’s the hardest part, once you’re out there it’s fine,” he explains. “I always have a target in mind, whether it be certain mileage, or certain average speed or certain elevation gain.”

He continues: “I've never been somebody who likes cycling by themselves, I always go out with friends or the Ystwyth Cycling Club. And with what's going on this year, this has given me focus to get me out. I probably wouldn’t have done that without the challenge it kept me sane throughout lockdown.”

The 41-year-old says he averages 4,000 miles a year most years. “Being me I panicked and overshot the mark early, i completed 5,000 in August.”

Gethin Howells threw in a successful gravel everesting attempt to mix up his 2020 riding

Stacey Larkin - The 100-mile Zwifter

Larkin started riding with her Dad on mountain bikes or hybrids several years ago before she bought a drop-bar bike. “It’s become a bit of an obsession, if i’m honest. If I don’t ride my bike at least once a day I get proper grumpy. I’ve only had six days off this year,” Larkin explains.

“What I looked forward to seeing were the monthly challenges because they just give you that opportunity to try something different, to push yourself maybe that little bit more than you would have done,” says Larkin. She had a place on the RideLondon sportive, but the event was cancelled and when CW set the challenge of riding 100 miles in one ride in August she decided to do that instead. “If someone had said to me, last year ‘ Ride 100 miles in one day,’ I'd probably have just laughed at them and said ‘That's never going to happen. That’s not possible.’ But clearly it is,”

Jan Darnell - The social animal

Speak to anyone who’s spent time in the CW5000 Facebook group and you’ll swiftly hear Darnell’s name mentioned. He constant encouragement and interaction were cited by almost everyone CW spoke to as a factor in that support network keeping their motivation going.

Darnell, 53 from Kentucky in the US, only got a bike last year and rides almost entirely indoors on Zwift. “I’m a semi-retired custom garment maker, I basically hang out at the house and ride my bike,” she says.

Read the full article in the January 7 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine. During lockdown you can get the magazine delivered directly to your door by taking out a subscription. You can currently trial three issues for just £3.

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Simon Richardson
Simon Richardson

Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling when channel surfing in 1989 and happening across the greatest ever edition of the Tour de France. He's been a Greg LeMond fan ever since. He started racing in 1995 when moving to university in North Wales gave him more time to train and some amazing roads to train on. He raced domestically for several years, riding everything from Surrey leagues to time trials, track and even a few Premier Calendars. In 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium with the Kingsnorth International Wheelers. 

Since working for Cycling Weekly he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer but he still hasn't completed the CW5000 challenge!


Road bike: Pinarello K8S with Shimano Dura Ace

TT bike: Specialized Venge road bike with FFWD wheels and Easton Attack TT bars

Gravel bike: N/A

Training bike: Rourke custom hand made with Reynolds 853 steel