Congratulations to Matthieu Bonne for a successful 7-day (HWMR) attempt in the Standard bike, non-drafting, 19-49 age group categories.
Matthieu’s new mark of 3619.72 Km (2249.19 mi) successfully eclipsed the current record of 3589.43 km (2230.36 mi) set by Leigh Timmis on 13 November 2022.
- Preface : Highest Weekly Mileage Record Announcement
Monday, march 20th I’ll be at the start of my newest challenge: setting a new world record of cycling the longest distance in 7 days.
To put things into perspective: the Tour de France is about 3600 km, spread over 3 weeks. My aim is to go beyond that distance in only one week! And by the way, there are no other riders with me, so I have to do this completely on my own (non drafting).
We have chosen Phoenix, Arizona (US) as our battleground for this massive attempt. It’s pretty flat, with (hopefully) little wind and pleasant sunny temperatures this time of the year. Might get a tan in the process.
The current record stands at 3590 km. That’s the target, but I am aiming at the magical 4000 km. (Too) Farfetched? Maybe, but you know I like to think big. 4000 km just seems so impossible. And I like to go for the impossible.
In order to achieve this, I’ll have to ride my bike for 20 hours a day, for 7 days straight, at an average speed of 29-30 km/h. If you start thinking about it, this just looks totally insane…I know.
Will I succeed? I have no idea, really. Like with all my previous challenges, the only way to find out is to go out there and release my mind and body.
- Day to day Report.
Day 1 : Monday march 20th 2023
We were staying in a comfortable house in Avondale and I’ve had 7 hours of sleep before I waked up one hour before the start of my challenge at midnight. I felt fresh and ready to rumble. I informed the team that my plan was to ride 570 km on the first day. Departure was on time and I realized an average of 31,5 km/hr in the first 5-hour segment. After a little break in Gila Bend we continued our route to the Mexican border before turning back north. As planned, we switched follow teams after 10 hours and I took a 30 min break to have a proper meal. In the second part I went west to Salome on a desert road for some 100 km and then turned back to our house. I finished the first day around 22:00hr with 570 km with 30,5 km/hr on average. I was on schedule.
Day 2 : Tuesday
Departure at 1:30hr, I felt good, although my knee was hurting a little bit. Maybe my position was not comfortable enough for such long rides and the saddle was lowered. After around 10 hours of cycling, I experienced my first low point. I was tired and everything was hurting. Also, the rain was kicking in, which affected my mood. At the team switch I took a 20-minute nap in the car and I felt re-energized! In the afternoon the wind became stronger, but I was feeling great at that time. After sunset it started to rain again. I was soaking wet. The last 2-3 hours of the ride were really hard. I was close to hypothermia towards the very end of my ride. Still got 534 km that day.
Day 3. Wednesday
Day 3 started miserable. Departure at 2:30hr, but after 1 hour it started to rain pretty hard. I was getting soaked and cold, fighting against the wind at 20km/hr. After several hours we decided that it was no longer healthy nor safe to continue. So, we took shelter in a gas station and waited there for the rain to get lighter. It took 2 hours before we could restart and having lost precious time, my mood was at the lowest point of the week. Warmed up and with fresh clothing we now stumbled upon blocked roads because of flash floods. Bad surprise again while my motivation was close to gone. Luckily, I had my parents in the follow car which gave me strength to carry on. Around noon, the rain disappeared completely and it would not return for the rest of the week. But the wind still remained present and would become a huge opponent for the rest of the week. At times it blew at 15-20 km/hr. It felt like I was riding against headwind all the time, and when I turned around, I didn’t notice the benefits of tailwind. Around noon we switched teams again. My manager and good friend Matthias flew over from Belgium and arrived to join the team. That gave me so much energy! The rest of the day was really epic. To cope with the westerly wind, we went south to Gila Bend where we found a suitable 20 km road where we did loops until sunset. Eventually I finished the day with “only” 447 km. We realized that 4000 km was beyond reach now.
Day 4 : Thursday
I was really tired waking up and everything was aching. The morning temperatures were getting very low (3-5°c). We weren’t really expecting this and I didn’t have the necessary clothing. My feet and hands were frozen, especially around sunrise, when the temperatures are the coldest. Luckily the sunrise always gave me a mental boost. The wind on the other hand was really playing tricks with my mind. I really didn’t anticipate so much wind. During the team switch my spirit was really low. But my team was there to boost me, just like they had been there all week long. They gave me so much strength to keep on going. I finished the day with 513 km.
Day 5 : Friday
It was another freezing morning. Luckily Matthias had done some shopping at the Trek store: knee warmers, toe warmers, hand gloves and warm socks. I was well protected from the cold now, but it was getting harder and harder. I suffered from saddle soreness and it was a battle all day long.
We did a variation on the course of previous days: we included a stretch of highway in our loop: better asphalt and a way to outsmart the headwind. On the way out on the highway I took crosswind to get back via a longer road with tailwind. I was just holding on to record pace and finished the day with just over 500 km. The sleep deprivation was also kicking in very hard. The balance between cycling and sleeping was now the most important thing.
Day 6 : Saturday
Now it became very clear: this was going to be a race against the clock! In the early morning hours, I had my first flat tire. I was on the bike again in under 2 minutes! The first part of the ride I went to Salome in the west and back. Around noon the wind began to blow harder. After the switch point, we once again rode loops around Gila Bend. In the late afternoon the team decided that we would not return to the home base, and they would install an improvised bed in the second car. Around midnight, after 510km, I took a short break in the field to be ready for the final day.
Day 7 : Sunday
D-Day. After just a 1-hour nap I started off again. I had to ride at least 515 km that day to break the record. I was tired and I had nothing left in the tank, so it felt. I also didn’t eat enough the day before, so I had little energy. During the night the wind was calm and we rode south to Gila bend. I tried to eat as much as possible. Slowly gaining some energy, I then cycled west to Salome in the morning. The headwind was tough, but the plan was to ride as far west as possible on the Salome Hwy. With the wind blowing even stronger from midday on, I would get a bonus on the way back. And it worked! Things were looking good. At around 18:30hr I took a 10 min nap before pushing myself one more time. For the next 5 hours I cycled loops on the old US 80 north of Gila Bend. At 22:58hr I broke the record. I felt great and very awake and tried to maintain the same speed until the end. At 23:59hr precise I stopped my watch. I was near the entrance of Gila Bend, eventually ending up with 543,29km that day and setting the new world record at 3619,72 km. At the gas station, a little further away the complete team was waiting to welcome me and celebrate. What a ride!