Brutal Diary - Midnight Rider

A serious block of Double Brutal specific training last night, as I had my first experiment with overnight riding. On race weekend, I’ll be cycling all day and well into the night, probably finishing the bike leg around two o’clock in the morning. The big question with which I am wrestling is whether to stop and sleep at some point between the eight laps of the bike course, or to just press on and ride straight through.

It’s pretty difficult to simulate the fatigue I’ll be feeling at that point, but last night was an interesting attempt.

Firstly, we went to Blue Lagoon in the evening, and I swam a steady continuous 5km. It was a perfect warm evening with light cloud stopping the sun dazzling the eyes, and I had a really relaxed swim at the same comfortable pace I am planning to swim Brutal.

Next, I had a much longer transition period than race day will allow – about four hours! Went home, had a shower, ate a steak and some pasta salad, and then watched the day’s highlights from the Tour de Suisse until Pam finally gave up the ghost and went to bed at close to midnight.

Now I sprang into action, rolling my bike out of the garage as quietly as possible and riding off into the night. There was quite a strong southerly wind, so I decided to ride into it and headed to Barnsley. My plan was to stick to main, lit roads where possible, but I had my Lezyne Macro light on the front just in case.

This has two settings: one is a normal front facing light that will light you up and make you visible to other road users. The second setting is a massive fuck off floodlight that I sometimes worry might summon the Batman.

I rode into Wakefield, getting a little wet from standing water but the temperature was warm enough, then took the A61 to Barnsley. It’s a false assumption to believe that all main roads have street lights. In fact they have street lights broadly where there are residential homes, and then they have nothing from Newmillerdam all the way to bloody Barnsley.

The Lezyne lit the way, although I was a little cautious on downhills, as my speed picked up and I worried what potholes or lumps might leap out of the darkness. On race weekend, I will be doing eight laps of a 45km circuit so I am hoping that I will know every bump of the road by the time it gets dark on Saturday night.


Apart from lighting considerations, the other major difference was a very welcome lack of traffic. The roads were very empty, with only one or two cars passing by every five minutes. This helped me to relax, and by the time I reached my turnaround point at Wombwell I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

The wind shoved me back to Wakefield so quickly that I added an extra loop to make up the three hours, riding up through Crigglestone. By now it was half past two, and the streets were eerily quiet and empty. It had the feel of a post apocalyptic film – with no lights on in houses, and the traffic now virtually non existent, you can imagine that you’re the last man on earth. If I were the last man on earth, I would definitely use my bike to get around.

When I got home, I tried (and failed) to have a shower without waking anyone, and by the time I had dried off, I was ready to sleep. But while I had been riding and my heart rate stayed up in the active zones, I hadn’t felt even slightly tired. This bodes well for Brutal, and suggests that I can ride straight through without needing to stop for a nap.