The Roundabout Cyclist

The idea to do a century ride on a roundabout came to me when one day in April I tried to take a nearby uphill KOM - king of the mountain, aka fastest rider on Strava - and used the roundabout to warm-up.

31 August 20205 min read

How do we get here?

The idea to do a century ride on a roundabout came to me when one day in April, I tried to take a nearby uphill KOM - king of the mountain, aka fastest rider on Strava - and used the roundabout to warm-up. So that day, I rode around 25km (15.5 miles) there and thought to myself, "well, 100km (60 miles) here should be fun".

Our city was in the middle of the quarantine. Urban transport wasn't working at all, except buses for emergency workers, so the conditions were perfect. Too bad the day when I did my first roundabout century was the day when buses started working again! That didn't stop me, of course. To shed some light on my background, I got into cycling just a few years ago. I loved the idea of cycle huge distances - in my mind, anything above 100km seemed like a great feat.

I started to cycle more and more, became a randonneur. Randonneuring is a special type of cycling where athletes attempt routes over 200 km - which is 140 miles. Distances that seemed so huge before don't seem that great now. And being able to know my country and land better is nice too (I live in Ukraine). I had many cycling plans this year, especially for the summer. It's good that the pandemic didn't ruin them all. I had a chance to participate in randonneurs events and did a series of brevets - 300, 400, 600km. That was my first 600km ride, and the experience was amusing, but that's a completely different story.

For easy math, each hundred km is 60 miles.

Now back to the roundabout.

My desire to do 200km on the roundabout was still there. I was waiting for the good weather to come; rain's not an option when you're riding in tight circles all day. It was a hot day when I started my journey to nowhere (around 33°C or 91ºF); for the first 3 hours, I felt like a grilled chicken. Maybe that was the worst part, or maybe a pothole with unavoidable cracks around it. Which I felt every ~24 seconds, each lap.

I was dealing with traffic (sometimes cars break the rules and go the opposite direction), I was dealing with people who thought it was their lawn, with dogs, children. It took all my strength to maintain concentration for six hours at that speed, not a second to relax. Compared to a typical ride, it's easier on legs but harder on your core and requires more concentration.

Maybe it sounds a bit crazy, but it wasn't half bad as it sounds. I had fun. And I couldn't do it that fast without help - one of my friends came as I was in the middle of my ride, refilled my water bottles, brought cola to me twice and something to eat (my back pockets are not that big to carry all that I've drunk and ate during that 6 hours). I could have done it by myself, but I would need to stop, and I didn't want to. I'm very thankful for her help.

Did anyone ask you what you were doing?

Very few people asked me what I was doing. One guy stopped me and said with a bright smile: "I went for cigarettes 2 hours ago, and you were there. Are you training for yourself or some event? I'm impressed!" I told him I was there for 4 hours and there are 2 hours left. That guy was really nice, shook my hand and wished me good luck.

There were some weird looks too, but most people just ignored me, and some young folks asked me how much I cycled here already. "150km, 50 left!" I only heard admiring obscenities after me. That was fun. My legs got tired when I hit the 150km mark, but I didn't want to slow down my pace because I wanted to do 200km under 6 hours.

Eventually, the sunset and the temperature dropped. For the last 25km, I felt so hyped up, my average speed increased a bit, I felt great, and my tiredness all went away. Maybe music and night lights helped me here. When I finally stopped, unclipping from the pedals and standing on the ground felt weird for a minute but extremely satisfying, knowing that I did it in 6 hours just as I wanted.

What's next?

What's my next challenge? Well, some people suggested 300 km on a roundabout. Maybe later. I'm over the traffic. Someone pointed out that the unofficial world record on a roundabout is 24 hours (which a bit more than 600 km)... a good challenge, but this year I'm not ready for that. It's pretty mental to even think about it. Everesting on some local hill, now that's a challenge! I have never done anything like that before; maybe it'll be my next goal.

Originally posted on authored by Ryan Sneddon.

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