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Friend of Band of Climbers and extreme product tester, @grimpeur (Dean Madden STRAVA) this weekend completed a two year goal, to ride 100 separate 100 mile rides in a calendar year. In fact, he achieved his goal inside 11 months, after narrowly missing out in 2019.
You can learn more about Dean's epic challenge on our first piece on the 100 x 100's by CLICKING HERE, to read our earlier story.
Incredibly, Dean has achieved this amazing feat of riding whilst working full time in financial services, and maintaining a strong balance with his family life. To do this, most of Dean's rides have begun before day break, with some incredibly early morning, (think 2am starts) later in the season.
We have closely followed Dean throughout the year, from his very first rides in the cold, dark, and often wet early season. For most us, the thought of riding 100 mile rides (161km) in deepest darkest January simply doesn't appeal. But not Dean.
He had a 'slow' start to the year of riding 100 x 100's. In the early part of the year when he wasn’t too well he missed out on a number of key rides. This meant he only rode eight 100s before 23rd February.
Two key blocks pushed the numbers up later in the year. In May, he went into overdrive. A block of riding 8 centuries in 10 days got him back on track, and then another block of 13 in 21 days in August saw him ahead of schedule. These sessions were crucial to Dean, helping with motivation and hitting the numbers.
Over the course of the year, as seasons changed and warmer weather developed, Dean's rides became much less of a chore. He was able to ride further into the North Pennines, navigating not just the high hills of Northumberland and County Durham, but the lockdown restrictions of Covid-19 too. Always riding within the rules forced by Coronavirus, Dean managed to continue his rides all year round.
Back in May, on one horrifically windy day in the North East, Dean volunteered to take part in a photoshoot with us out in the North Pennines. Whilst we all made our way there in warm, dry vans and cars, Dean opted to ride out, to get his miles in.
This meant riding into a solid 40mph headwind for around 4 hours, just to ensure he got his required 100 miles in that day. When we caught up with him on the road, he was barely moving, the headwind forcing him into the lowest possible gear just to keep moving. This is just one of many stories of his famous phrase - 'looping on'.
Never missing the chance to get 100 miles in the bank, any possible opportunity to ride the required 100 was taken. Dean joined us in Switzerland in the summer to ride the epic Tour des Stations Grand Fondo. The day before the ride itself (one of the hardest in Europe) He rode a 160km route over two of Valais' most amazing climbs, the Col du Sanetsch, and La Grande Dixence. A ride with over 4000m of climbing.
The day of the Tour des Stations, Dean rode the Gran Fondo route. 130km and over 5300m of elevation. In 36c heat. Of course, that was short of the required 161km for Dean, so of course, he 'looped on' to get the required extra 30km in, when the rest of our group were enjoying beers in Verbier and back at the chalet.
In October, Dean joined us for a photoshoot for our ThermoAscent Jerseys in the Lake District in fairly horrific conditions. After riding a 45km loop from Keswick, in the rain and hail, and over Honitster and Whinlatter Passes, Dean again opted to ride back, half the way across the country, just to get his 100 in.
Some days, 100 miles simply weren't enough. During the summer, when the days were long and the legs were good, the odd 200 mile ride was common to see. A favourite for Dean is the Coast to Coast to Coast ride. This means riding from the North East Coast in Tynemouth, to Whitehaven or Workington on the west coast, then back again via infamous pennine climbs like Hartside Pass.
Almost every weekend featured at least one 100 mile ride, but most featured two. Some weeks, Dean would ride not one, two or three, but up to 6 centuries in 7 days, going into the office to a full working day after each ride. The commitment and energy required for these epic weeks is simply incredible.
Towards the end of the year as the cold weather returned, not content with knowing the roads of the North East like the back of his hands, Dean added a Gravel Bike to his collection, and began adding gravel rides to his palmares, just when his rides weren't time consuming enough.
As autumn turned to winter and the number of Covid cases grew, Dean pressed on, knowing that if he, or someone close to him caught the virus, it would force him to self isolate for 2 weeks, or worse, if he caught the disease. So his already insane challenge started to get more insane.
We noticed something was changing when one Saturday morning, we logged into Strava at 10am and noticed Dean had already completed his 100. A check of the start time and sure enough, 4am was his set off time. And that was just the beginning.
As the rides developed his start times got earlier, and earlier, to the amazement of those around him. Regular 2am departure times became a common sight. Night rides of the industrial estates of the North East were common for Dean - they were well lit, and very quiet was the reason.
A chance of total peace, where he would see only a handful of cars or people all night. He would ride these 2am starts after just 2 or 3 hours sleep.
Before the final ride, Dean shared his training file that got him to this point, beginning in 2011. That stats are frightening. Over 100,000 miles cycled, his longest ride? 407 miles.
Eventually, after 9 - one hundred mile rides - the time had come for Dean to ride the 100th. In an ideal world he would have had all his riding friends with him, in one huge group ride, but due to Covid and the rule of two, it meant only one friend could ride with at a time to cheer him on. The final ride was completed on a freezing cold Saturday morning, with a relatively late departure time of 07.49am.
In temperatures never reaching over freezing, he complete the 100 in 6hrs 35 minutes, to a warm welcome home from his family.
We can't even describe the level of commitment Dean has put into this challenge. For many people, riding a single 100 miles(161km) ride is something they train for for weeks or months. With an average ride time of around 5hr 45 minutes for Dean's 100's, the time commitment alone is astonishing across the year.
So with the 100 - one hundred miles complete, what did Dean do with his first free Sunday all year? Well.... ride he rode number 101 of course. Back out at 2am, meaning he rode almost 200 miles in less than 24 hours.
Frankly at this point we're asking ourselves when this man will ever have a rest.
Earlier in the year, a local photographer and friend to so many cyclists in the region, Jack Earl, had sadly passed away. Jack was a regular on the North East Time Trial, Hill Climb, and Road Race scene, giving up his free time in his retirement to photograph races and riders, all free of charge and because he loved the sport.
As a result of Jack's passing, Dean dedicated the 100 x 100's to Jack, and began a fundraiser to support Jack's favoured charity, the Great North Air Ambulance, whilst also supporting the Newcastle Building Society Community Foundation at the same time, with all donations split between the two.
If you're reading this and would like to donate to two incredible causes, you can learn more, and donate on Dean's just giving page here : https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dean-madden-2