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Is the heel mightier than the wheel?


Sunday 9 October 2016

For the avoidance of doubt, the Man v Bike Experiment is the BIKE ride part!

Leith Hill, Dorking, Surrey

Man v Bike Experiment discussion thread

Experiment results/write up is below.

A tough on- and off-road (mountain-bike) ride of around 19M with spectacular views throughout...

The final course is 18.93M, with 1854ft of ascent and descent.

Man V Bike Final Course Garmin Trail

The Man v Bike is an experiment to see if a course can be devised that will allow a runner and a cyclist to compete on equal terms. The Man v Bike is the bike part - you will previously have done the run part, some time in the previous three years!

To be included in the event, you must have a qualifying time - a finish in either the Leith Hill Half or the Greensand Half Marathon (they are the same course), within the last 3 years. Your time (or fastest of your times) is the time that you are trying to beat on this mountain bike course.

We have tested this course quite carefully, and we think that it will be evens as to whether you can beat your run time - or not.

Note - the bike course will be very sparsely marked, and you are responsible for navigating the course correctly.

The bike course includes mandatory running/pushing/carrying sections where you are not allowed to cycle. The bike course also includes very steep and fast descents - you must proceed at a safe speed and must give way to all other road users where applicable.

Bikers on the Man v Bike set out at the same time as runners on the Greensand Half Marathon (10.30am).

Event fee includes tea and coffee before the start, tabbard momento (to be worn during the event) and cooked post-event breakfast.

Bicycle racing is not allowed on byways, so it's not a race! It's more of an experiment. Since this is not a race, the results of the experiment will be given in alphabetical order, and no prizes will be awarded.

All participants in the Man v Bike experiment are required to wear a high-visibility tabbard (supplied) during the event and to wear a bike helmet.

Thanks to local clubs and runners for their support!

iPods/MP3s strictly not allowed! Be aware of your surroundings at all times!

"Man v Bike is the 'race' that me and my brother have been waiting for to settle all unspoken arguments and questions and shift the balance of brotherly power for ever. Or else that the loser will have to buy lunch: 2 brothers definitely interested." A. Locke

The Man v Bike Experiment 2016 - Results

The inaugural Man v Bike Experiment successfully took place on 9 October, albeit only with five participants. Their accounts of their experiences are below. Two participants went completely off course, but had a great time all the same. Of the remaining three particpants, only Martyn Sharp beat his fastest time on the run course (Leith Hill Half), while Matthias Eng and Charles St Aubyn were slower on the bike course - but not by a large margin.

Conclusion? With better course marking (by the organiser), it should be possible for more participants to complete the course correctly, and given that there was a spread of bikers that were both faster and slower than their run times, this bike course appears to be a candidate for an equal test of 'Man v Bike' when compared to run times on the Leith Hill Half course.

A future event might compare the times taken by bikers and runners and apply a 'fudge factor' so that half of participants were faster on the bike, and half ended up being faster on the run.

We sincerely thank all participants on this highly unusual athletic experiment!


Matthias Eng (Run 2:06 vs Bike 2:27:17)
"I thought it was a great and fun experiment for definite. First time I get asked to participate in an athletic experiment as well... :-) I think the bike course was it was a bit harder than running the Leith Hill Half, measured by how tired I felt. I usually sit down for a few minutes after the LHH, and did not after MvB, but at LHH I run all out down from the gazebo, so a sprint finish, whereas MvB is pretty easy down from Coldharbour so was not as exhausted at the finish, but the cumulative fatigue was higher. I did take two wrong turns during the experiment, but that I think at most added five minutes to my time. I also think that if I put as much time into mountain biking as I put into running then I could get my times to be closer and maybe even be faster on the bike."

Martin Riddle (Run 2:11:48 vs Bike 2:51:29)
"Thank you for running the event. I enjoyed it, despite seeing a few more miles of Surrey than planned. Up to the tower on Leith Hill I was in second place and felt that I was on course to match my half time, give or take a few minutes. I then followed the race markers for the marathon and then (at Pitland Street?) another event's yellow tape and arrows instead of checking the gps. If you run the event again, I'd like to have another go."

Martin Sharpe (Run 2:04:01 vs Bike 1:55:35)
"The course was pretty much as I expected having been twice on the prototype rides and also ridden a couple of times doing training rides last year. I hadn’t actually done anything this year except running, my last bike ride was the London-Surrey 100 2015, last year. I found that knowing the course of enormous benefit over the other riders as I knew where to go.
My run time was beaten partly because I have been doing a lot of runs this year so am a little fitter.
The course was great, mud, sweat and tears best describes it. Fortunately I was expecting the puddles or small ponds really. I actually came off in a puddle going up the first ascent. Bashed and cut my elbow, hit knee and shoulder was pulled out a bit, hence why I was rather muddy at the finish. Luckily the bike was unscathed though a little muddy.
On the first ascent there was a little overtaking and being over taken by the lead runners, this was nice and saying well done to each other. There was also a few walkers. Had a bit of a laugh with one group, who had a young boy running across the track and when I passed his mother shouted up to him ‘Out of the way Jack’. When I passed him I said ‘thanks Jack’ and he shouted back to his mum ‘Mum that man knew my name’
On the first descent, encountered a few bikers and walkers plus some sticky slow bits but some nice speed.
Second ascent seemed to go on forever and encountered 2 horses and lots of tree roots. I dismounted and walked up to the tower as expected, not sure if the others did. It was quite busy here with walkers and our runners plus the crowd at the top.
Second descent was nice, nearly missed the turn again in the woods like on the prototype run. On the road there was a lot of road bikers but not too many cars which was good.
Third ascent seemed to go on forever (don’t like hills)  there were also a lot of bikers one commented as he passed me ‘you look like you’ve been having fun’ as I was covered in mud. There must have been another ride on because there were lots of arrow signs. I nearly followed them the wrong way at the top before the pub, but kept saying to myself ‘no it’s this way, it’s this way’, it might have caught the other riders out though.
Third descent was magical, mud flying off the wheels, a few cars and quite a lot of road bikers. There was one group they passed me going up the slopes, I caught them going down the slopes and passed them at the ‘Going Turbooo!’  point (from the video), they caught me again towards the end.
It was great to finish and a nice touch to run round through the finish line."

Charles St Aubyn (Run 1:53:00 vs Bike 2:19:44)
"Interesting challenge. Really enjoyed most of it. As I said at the end, my ride was thrown off course by having to go back up Leith Hill from Broadmoor an extra time (!) to look for my favourite sunglasses that had fallen out of my pocket on the way down. Did that add 26 minutes to my overall ride? That being the difference between my Leith Hill HM time and my ride time. Probably not, so in my case the bike took longer. That said, I probably didn’t go for it as much as I would have if I hadn’t had my extra ascent! Good course overall, although I would probably have preferred to have less on-road in the last third of it. So maybe a bit shorter but more off-road latterly.  Not sure how possible that would be. It was an interesting experiment and a fun day out."

Pau Yin Wong (Run 2:29:01 vs Bike 2:09:07)
Pau Yin told me the following: She enjoyed the first part of the ride, including the second ascent to the tower, but like Martin Riddle she then followed the marathon race markers, also ending up following the markers for a completely different event, finally descending towards the north to return along the A25 (!) and the Dorking one-way system.



Below - Man v Bike final bike course video (25 minutes, HD) use 'cog' icon to vary video resolution.

A word about risk, roads and the course

Risk is everywhere - in your house, in your bed, in your kitchen. Once you leave the house, and climb on your bike, risk changes, but it's still there. When you ride, you have to watch out and take care of yourself. When you go fast, you have to take even more care - but the risk will increase all the same. Risk can be reduced, but it cannot be eliminated. Riders in the Man v Bike must take care at all times - the ROADS WILL NOT BE CLOSED*. The course has been designed from the outset to have inherently reduced risk - there are no right hand turns on roads anywhere along the course. However, you must be aware that vehicles can enter the course from the left (for example from driveways or from roads coming in from the left-hand-side) or right and that cars may be present in the carriageway that you are riding along (for example due to over-taking something in the opposite lane).

There is a real risk of moderate or severe injury or death involved in taking part in practically any activity - including this event. But please don't let that put you off!

In addition, all riders must obey the rules of the road and Highway Code - you must give way at all relevant junctions (particularly when joining the road course, when turning left onto the B2126/Lake Road and when turning left at Ockley). At all other times, riders must proceed with due care and consideration for other road or byway users.

Inconsiderate or dangerous riding will result in disqualification.

Absolute politeness to all other users of the course is required at all times - any rudeness to other users will also result in disqualification.

*Roads are not closed due to the impracticality of closing roads and to avoid inconvenience to local residents. In consequence, ride more carefully!

A Man v Bike Discussion (on Runner's World) charting the genesis of the event... (thanks to contributors for thoughtful insights!)

Organised by Conferio Ltd

manvbike at trionium dot com