Cycling for 24 hours. Non-stop. A feat few cyclists accomplish. This weekend Leo is undertaking one of the most brutal long distance cycling challenges in the UK, Revolve 24 at Brands Hatch. Leo will be enduring this feat to support Young Minds, a charity who help young people dealing with mental illness, following his own struggles with such a condition. 

With this colossal feat fast approaching for this fresh young cyclist, we wanted to ask him a few questions about why he decided to take on this challenge, what inspired his cause and his thoughts going into his first 24-hour event.  

 

How did you first get into riding? 

I first started riding after I left school but I’d always had an interest in cycling from a young age watching the Tour, but I’d never really gotten into it until I got my first job and wanted to meet some new people. I bought a bike a couple of years ago, and the rest is history.

 

What inspired you to do RV24?

Last Summer I decided that I wanted to take cycling more seriously and wanted to raise money for charity by undertaking a number of solo endurance challenges.

I started posting regularly on my Instagram about a year ago, and at the same time, I followed a few people on Instagram who participated in RV24 last year. I only decided in July to take part this year, after I saw an advert on social media and signed up there and then. I am treating this challenge as an experiment. I’m keen to discover just how capable both my mind & body are, dealing with this kind of strain and RV24 is the perfect opportunity to test my limits.

 

What has been your most difficult challenge on the bike so far? 

I’d say the Dartmoor Classic in July last year.

With 2,000m of climbing in just over 100km it was tough, especially as I was far heavier than I am now. Although I’ve ridden further, faster and longer, it remains the hardest ride I’ve done so far.

 



We think it's fair to say being a cyclist can be lonely at times. Why did you decide to compete solo?  

Without a doubt, this weekend is going to be a lonely experience. Just me and my bike riding through the day and night. I enjoy my own company which helps, but to attempt this on my own will be tough.

I have depression, and I have done for many years. It has caused me to belittle anything I’ve ever achieved for myself and put me in some of the darkest places imaginable. I am setting myself some outrageous goals and tough challenges to try and help others who suffer from this illness.

I want to do Revolve24 and other solo challenges because I have received help in a variety of different forms whether it be through friendship, counselling or medicine. Although the sufferer can defeat this illness with support, a significant aspect of riding these challenges solo is to represent the strength behind the individual to overcome the harshness of any challenge alone. Nonetheless, I never get bored riding solo. I still feel like a kid again, having fun riding my bike.

 

What have you changed by way of your regular training and diet for this event? 

Other than eating more, I haven’t had to alter my diet too much but as I decided to take part in Revolve24 in July, the four weeks of August were full of seriously tough training.

I did more riding than I’ve ever done within that time frame and every ride had to take some level of structure. I think the overarching training methods that I tried to incorporate were a variety of intervals and holding a baseline endurance effort. I don’t have a coach, so all these efforts were purely devised by myself.

My only aim was to get myself fitter than I’ve ever been before in my life and that’s what I’ve achieved. As I said previously, this weekend is going to be a tough experiment. I have no specific aims for the event itself, except to push myself as hard as I possibly can. 

 

Have you had to change your equipment drastically from your standard set up for RV24? 

I think the fit I had with your senior fitter Nas, made a considerable difference to my overall comfort on the bike. He raised my saddle by 2mm, moved the seat slightly forward and adjusted my cleat positioning. Those small but significant changes have certainly perfected my endurance position for the event.

Some of the more unexciting changes I’ve made to the bike are the water bottles which I’ve decided to tuck behind me. I’ve also employed an aero bottle on the down tube allowing me to carry plenty of water on the bike to reduce stopping time and maximise aerodynamics. I’m also going to be using a small top tube bag to carry a power bank to recharge my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt while on the move. I’ve also fitted a new chain and ceramic bottom bracket because you’ve got to capitalise on any marginal gains you can make in a long distance event like this.

Despite the terrain of the course being fairly undulating, I am too not concerned by the total weight of my equipment. Although many people get overly concerned by weight in this type of event, I think comfort and aerodynamics will play a far more significant role.


 

Can you let us into your fundraising and distance goals? 

I am raising money for Young Minds and have a current target of £750.

Brands Hatch is a challenging circuit, but I aim to cover around 400 to 500km depending on speed, conditions and health. With an average power of 2 – 2.2w/kg for the event and a traveling time of approximately 18hrs, I should hit this target.

 

What other major cycling events/challenges have you got planned after this?

I have already planned two specific challenges for the 2019 season.

 1. An Everesting (on a climb close to my parents’ home in Devon)

 2. Riding 100km per day for 100 Consecutive Days 

Depending on how this weekend goes, I may do more 24hr challenges and races (I’ve certainly got my eye on Le Mans).  Lands’ End to John O’Groats may be on the cards too.

A long term goal is to break an endurance world record that I have set my sites on, which I’m aiming to achieve within the next ten years and raise as much money for charity in the process as possible. Endurance cycling is a notoriously competed by men and women with years of experience building up that base level of mental and physical fitness. So all of these are long term goals, which will take multiple attempts and a lot of training.  Hopefully, RV24 is just the start.

   

You can donate to Leo’s cause here, and you can follow his adventures on Instagram here.