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This bloke walks into a pub, goes up to the bar and asks the landlord for a packet of peanuts and … well, nothing, it’s not a joke, it’s simply something I witnessed on Saturday night that left me slightly stunned. The ‘bloke’ in question was Ian Barrington who’d just ridden 185km in the previous 14 hours and even more surprising was the fact that there were 3 riders in front of him. 

The 2016 Bear Bones 200 wasn’t easy, yet 39 riders completed the route in under 24 hours, which for all the statisticians out there – was over half the field. It’s true that there might have been less tussocky hell than is sometimes encountered and conditions were favourable but 200km in 24 hours still requires you to ride a bike at an average speed of 8.3km per hour for a full 24 hours or 1444 minutes, with absolutely no stops whatsoever. Of course, no one’s actually going to do that because there’s things like opening gates, having a wee against a convenient tree and calling at the highest pub in Wales to buy nuts, to take into account. These necessary stops all add up and mean that your average speed will probably need to be a little brisker and nearer to 10km per hour should you wish to cover the distance in less than 24 hours.

I’ll take mine black.

What happens if you don’t want to do it in 24 hours? What would it take to get round in a mere 15 hours? Well, you’ll need to be travelling at an average of 13.3km per hour and that’s before you factor in any time stood still. Once you do, it quickly becomes apparent that an average speed of at least 15km per hour will be required regardless of whether you’re cycling along a flat stretch of smooth tarmac or dragging your bike through a moorland bog at 2.00am. I think most would agree, that’s a proper challenge, even for the fittest, fastest and most stubborn.

Exactly what it says.

While it’s very easy to focus on the bewildering achievements of those riders who appear to possess some kind of superhuman powers the rest of us simply can’t fathom, I like to think that the BB200 produces other stories too. Stories of mere mortals perhaps but in no way any less remarkable. These stories are of people who don’t know whether they can ride 200km in any time frame but set off regardless to push themselves further (or perhaps that should just be ‘push further’) than they’ve ever done before. It could be argued that for them, the challenge is even greater. Some didn’t make it but gave it their best shot, others surprised themselves and a few returned utterly shocked by what they were able to achieve. Who knows, next year or the one after that, one of these riders might be the person walking into a country pub after 185km to buy some nuts before the final heroic dash for home.

Congratulations to all who took part and helped write another little bit of bikepacking lore.


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