144 mile commute: Is it Britain's longest?

…but Canadian stakes claim for the world's toughest ride home

by Tony Farrelly   January 6, 2009  

Commuter cyclist

Hampshire cyclist, Simon Tout, has put in an early shout for the longest commute of the year. The tax advisor from Havant in Hampshire is putting in a 144 mile round trip to and from his job at Shell's headquarters on London's South Bank.

His ride in to work entails a 4.30am start to and takes him four hours, the ride is all part of his training for the coming time trial season. According to his local paper it also requires a tub of Vaseline a month, and he still gets saddle sore. Well, no pain no gain.

“The hardest part is the two minutes of realisation when the alarm goes and I think, "Have I really got to get out of bed now?" He told Portsmouth Today.

"I'm generally done and dusted by ten past nine and sat at my desk.

“But it's just a matter of being organised. There is an element of tiredness when I get to work but I'm brought alive by the euphoria of having done it. It's like a drug.”

Simon might want to keep the whole “drug and tiredness” bit quiet, but most cycle commuters will know exactly what he's talking about when he says that cycling to work can become addictive.

144 miles in one day is pretty hard core, but Simon “only” does the ride once a week (even so he should get himself signed up for our Metric Century Challenge and give Dasy a run for his money), there are cyclists out there who might not be able to match his daily total, but who could certainly beat that as a weekly one. In another life I did a story about a lawyer in the City who commuted into London daily on a panniered tourer and got so good she ended up in the Great Britain team. She rode in from Harlow, a round trip of 56 miles.

There were have also been stories of a legendary commuter who rode into London from Southend every day – a 92 mile round trip. Outside of London we've also heard of long distance commuters in to Birmingham, and closer to home Paul Vincent of Cycling Plus fame used to put in a daily 38 mile commute in to Bath, not a very long distance, but then he did it on a 92in fixed gear over some seriously big hills.

While all this may be hardcore by British standards Canadian student François Dagenais has taken things to another level. Last week he rode home to Montreal… from Vancouver, averaging 120Km a day through one of the worst Canadian winters in years. His coldest day? -40°C riding through Saskatchewan.

François is doing the ride to promote human-powered transportation and wanted to prove that it’s possible to ride all year long.

“Back home in Montréal, there are some folks who claim winter cycling is dangerous. I just wanted to make a point,” said François.

François was due back in Montreal on Sunday at the end of his 800km commute.

We think Simon could be Britain's longest distance cycle-commuter, but you may know different. If you do, we'd like to hear from you. Or do you know someone who puts in an awesome weekly mileage on the ride to and from work?