Le Mans cyclist Neil sets new British record

Cyclists on track with Dunlop Bridge in background
Neil Moss managed an average race speed over the 24 hours of 28.42kph

24-hour race on Circuit Bugatti leaves Briton 'smiling despite the pain'

Long-distance cyclist Neil Moss achieved a monumental 682km while taking part in the Le Mans 24Hour cycle race, finishing in the top 20 and becoming the farthest-riding British competitor in the history of the event.

Neil, a software engineer living near Olonzac in Hérault, had a target of 645km/400miles in 24 hours to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and completed it in 23hours, finishing 17th of the 95 competitors in his category.

Saying he was “smiling despite the pain,” the event on the Circuit Bugatti at the weekend was the culmination of nine months of solid training and now Neil aims to “spend some time with my family” adding "until the family says they wish I went out on my bike more often".

He added: “When I started I was cycling at weekends and then built up the miles and from March/April as the weather heated up here in the Minervois I would be doing six/eight hour stints at weekends, averaging 25miles a day, plus working full-time.

“That’s not great for family life although my wife Joan and I have done cycle touring holidays together and now I will go back to being a Sunday club rider and a keep-fit rider.”

As for the event, he said: “It was utterly exhausting; starting in 30C and then finding that even when it was dark the track was still very hot.

Man sits back in chair after strenuous cycle ride
Neil Moss says he was 'like Bambi' when he tried to stand up after the end of the race

“The best point was 16 hours into the race, about 7am and the darkest point just before the dawn when it was at its coolest, about 18C, and darkest. Everything goes quiet and everyone who is not racing is sleeping… I love riding in the dark.”

When he found at 23hours he had reached his magic milestone of 645km/400miles he was preparing to enjoy the final hour but saw Joan shouting to him from the pit wall as he passed.

He thought she was urging him to go faster but after passing the chequered flag he discovered she had been telling him to take it easy, he had plenty of time in hand. Neil said: “I was surprised I had something left.”

For his 682km Neil completed 163 laps – one lap of the Circuit Bugatti is 4.185km – at an average speed over the 24 hours of 28.42kph and that burned up 17,720calories… and he had lost 6kg since the beginning of the year.

He added: “I also discovered that I am now the unofficial British longest-distance rider in the event with my 682km/423miles – which beat the previous best by ultra-cyclist Chris Hopkinson of 636km. He’s an experienced ultracyclist so I’m pleased to have passed his mark. It’s mine for the year!”

Neil had the aim of raising £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and is only 25% of the way there on his page at Justgiving.com and said he would “continue to raise funds and every donation will help someone”.

But cycling will be a leisure activity from now on: “It took up far more time than I’m prepared to continue to give. There are plenty of things I want and need to do with my time… the garden, for a start.”

Read our previous story on Neil Moss when he was preparing for his Le Mans race in January, here.

Racers dash across the circuit at Le Mans
Racers in the 24 Heures Vélo Pearl Izumi 2017 dashed across the track in the classic Le Mans start

To get a taste of the atmosphere at the annual event, called the 24 Heures Vélo Pearl Izumi and organised by CGO Evénement, here is the video of last year’s race, on Vimeo.

Cyclosportive des 24 Heures Vélo 2017 (Circuit du Mans) / Le Mans 24 Hours Cycling from romain on Vimeo.

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