Rob’s nice day out

He’s only gone and done it! Rob Tilling made it, Birmingham to Norwich and back in a day, all in order to help a brilliant charity – Dr Hawden’s Trust. So don’t forget the sponsorship!

Anyway, it’s some serious achievement. Very well done sir! So here’s the ‘nice day out’ in his own words…

A nice day out

Riding 500km in a day was an idea that came into my mind as I cycled 400km for the first time! It seemed like a challenge that needed to be met. Sitting in front of my computer in the winter looking at distances, destinations and routes really was so straightforward and I even had the foresight to select a destination, within the 250km Birmingham radius, which wouldn’t require too much hill climbing on either the outward or home-bound journeys.

Prep on the bike

Despite the time-consuming nature of preparing routes, it doesn’t beat the number of hours spent in the saddle preparing for such rides. In the weeks preceding the 500km journey I had cycled 250km as a route tester one day and 320km on another. My mileage had built up as the winter turned to summer and after receiving a large proportion of my target for sponsorship I decided to just get on with it.

Fueling the stomach

Well, I decided to just spend two whole days over-eating actually, so that I could get on with it! A ride of this length requires a calorie intake in the 5-figures which is more than a non-energy-gel-user can easily swallow in a day.

So, the day came around, the alarm woke me up, after…5 hours of sleep! And I got up and out, on the road before 4am. I won’t lie – seeing 250km on the sat nav to your destination is daunting, and the thought of riding back as well has to be put completely to one side.

I set off on what was to be the warmest day of the year! And what a fine day it was – the weather was lovely even during the first two hours (of night). The roads were very quiet with just nocturnal animals and Ramadan-fasters active at that time. I made good time and there wasn’t a hint of coolness to the air. By 10.30am I had already made several pit-stops and covered 185 km. I felt happy that Norwich was not too far away. I had left Peterborough, the halfway point, long behind. I stocked up on water and sailed along relatively quickly, arriving only a few minutes later than I had hoped for.

The Greenhouse Trust
The Greenhouse Trust, Norwich

My pit-stop at The Greenhouse Trust was very comforting, with toilets, places to wash my face, water, juice, tea, soup, pies and bread and butter pudding! All vegan and all served quickly and eaten in the dappled shade of their relaxing garden.

Of course, luxuries like toilets and freely-available water have to be left behind after so short a time and I was back on the road after a break of just over an hour. Going fast! The wind must have become favourable to me and I sailed along, watching the miles (well, tens of miles) click by. I refilled my water bottles dead on 200 miles (320km) and set off at a fair speed of around 20mph, covering the next 50km in around 90 minutes. And then…it got harder!

The wall…

I am not sure exactly what I needed, but for the last part of the journey things were tougher. The heat had been pretty extreme and the saddle had become uncomfortable…but…by turning the pedals the bike slowly moved back towards Peterborough…Leicester…Nuneaton…

These places that had seemed so close to each other in the morning were now separated by what seemed like endless tarmacked distance! The light faded, making navigation harder, I kept trying to drink and eat as much as I could whilst also hurrying to avoid the sat nav battery dying! But it did…and THEN I had a struggle. Garmins are not designed to run for 20 hours at a stretch and I found myself in the dark, on country lanes, without GPS and with failing lights (also not designed for long periods of use).

Some of the roads were vaguely familiar to me but still, navigation along dark hilly lanes can be tricky. My speed dropped, I knew Birmingham was near, but this part of the journey was a challenge. AND THEN…I got to a point where I knew exactly the way home. Only another 15km or so left! And I pushed the pedals and I trudged along and I went from familiar road to more familiar road and after a short eternity…I was back at my front door!! At 1.30am!


9h 17 11h 18 21h 40
158.1 miles 144.1 (sat nav battery died) 321 miles – 516 km
18.4 mph 36.7 mph max
2264m climb (2425m adjusted)
8h 35 peddling time 18h 30 peddling
42 mins stopped time 3h 10mins stopped time
90rpm 83rpm (sat nav died) 86rpm (sat nav died)
8380 kcals 7170 kcals (until sat nav died) 15550 kcals

For the curious here’s the link to the RETURN route on bikerouttoaster. Looks quite direct, which has to be a good thing given the distance…

Dr Hawden Trust

Entertained? Enthralled, amazed? Well this huge effort was in support of the Dr Hawden Trust, so if you haven’t already, now’s the time to donate on Rob’s behalf. It’s straightforward and incredibly deserving.

All you need to do is click through to Rob’s charity page, the rest is simple. Go on, do it!



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