Roger Berry's Marathon Ride Raises Vital Funds

June 03, 2024 6 min read

In a remarkable feat of endurance and dedication, Roger Berry, a committed Wattbiker, recently completed a continuous 20-hour and 24-minute Wattbike session. This gruelling effort was all in the name of raising essential funds for the Great Marlow School Boat Club, a cause close to his heart. Covering an astounding distance of 450 kilometers, Roger's ride has drawn the attention of the Wattbike team, highlighting the spirit of determination and community support.

A Herculean Effort for a Worthy Cause

Roger Berry embarked on this epic journey starting at 4PM on a Thursday, concluding his ride at 12:24 PM the following day. The challenge took place at the Redgrave Sports Centre fitness suite, where he was cheered on by students, parents, staff, and community members. Among the supporters was Professor Greg Whyte OBE, known for his involvement in extraordinary sporting challenges, who both started and finished the event alongside Roger.

Kevin Ford, the Executive Headteacher at Great Marlow School, expressed his gratitude: "We are incredibly grateful to Roger for his time, energy, and support for the fundraising event. It was a phenomenal effort from Roger to cycle for the entire challenge time of 20 hours 24 minutes, covering an incredible distance of 450 kilometres. During the challenge, many parents, carers, staff, and community members came to the Redgrave Sports Centre fitness suite to exercise in support of the challenge and to encourage Roger."

Fergus Murison, Director of Rowing at Great Marlow School, echoed these sentiments, stating: "The whole Sporting Challenge event was a huge success, with the students at the school covering thousands of kilometres on Ergos during the challenge. Roger's support on the Wattbike was greatly appreciated and played a significant part in enabling us to raise over £30,000 during this challenge. This event and the money raised will go towards the realisation of our vision for a Schools' boathouse on the Thames here in Marlow."

The Road to the Challenge

Roger Berry's journey with the Wattbike began in 2019 at a local cycling studio in Marlow. With the onset of COVID-19 and the closure of many small businesses, Roger decided to invest in a Wattbike trainer in March 2020. This decision marked the beginning of a significant transformation in his life, both physically and mentally. From a near-zero baseline, Roger has since completed double Ironman events (UK & Wales) and become a serial endurance event charity fundraiser.

Roger shared his experience, saying, "Winter used to be my nemesis, but the Wattbike allows me to fit in exercise any time of the day, set clear training goals throughout the year, and maintain my performance all year round. The data and real-time feedback from Wattbike have been fundamental to my training, enabling me to track incremental improvements and achieve my long-term goals."

We sat down with Roger to discuss his journey as a Wattbiker so far and his insights on training.

How long have you been a Wattbiker, and how would you introduce yourself to someone you’d just met?

"To introduce myself to someone I’d just met: I’m Roger, 42, originally from Manchester, now living in Buckinghamshire with my awesome and very understanding wife, three kids, and dog. I love all things outdoors as well as music and food! Professionally, I have an incredibly busy job as medical director at a small biotechnology company, working to develop medicines for rare childhood muscle-wasting diseases. I love being around people and laughing.

I first started Wattbiking in 2019 at a cycling studio in Marlow where I live. Just before COVID, like many small businesses, this had to close, and I took the leap and bought a Wattbike Trainer in March 2020. My Wattbike has dramatically changed my life and supported both my mental and physical health. I’ve gone from close to zero to double Ironman (UK & Wales - renowned as being two of the toughest globally) and a serial endurance event charity fundraiser."

As an athlete, what are some of the biggest challenges you face in training, and how do you overcome them (with the Wattbike)?

"Winter used to be my nemesis, the dark mornings and evenings mean much less time for outdoor exercise, be it running, cycling, or open water swimming. Wattbike allows me to fit in exercise any time of the day, set clear training goals throughout the year, and maintain my performance all year round. It helps as much for improving cycling performance as it does for running and swimming.

My other main challenge is sticking to long-term goals and tracking incremental improvements. At the end of COVID, after building a good Wattbike fitness baseline, I decided to enter Ironman UK – having never even completed a single triathlon, and not running at all previously. Using the Wattbike to design my training plan was fundamental to gradually building towards this huge personal goal over an 18-month period, using the incredible, real-time data from Wattbike to track my incremental improvements (VO2 max, FTP, threshold HR, HR zones, and much more)."

What about the Wattbike drew you to it as a training platform? How is it different from others you’ve used? What are the benefits as you see it?

"I love data, and I love long-term goals and tracking my progress. I love competing against myself as much as others. Wattbike was made for me. The hub is super easy to use, links effortlessly to Strava (remember if it isn’t on Strava then it didn’t happen), makes it simple to build bespoke sessions, or follow longer-term training plans. The tests are incredible, with regular FTPs or ramp tests being fundamental to tracking progress towards longer-term goals."

What advice would you give to someone starting out in sport – whether that’s a first-timer in triathlon or just somebody looking to be more active in their day-to-day life?

"A few key things on this: As Sir Dave Brailsford famously advocated, marginal gains! I’m a firm believer that this applies to everything in life. Very often we search for quick fixes, but through data and determination, Wattbike can transform any life, and help anyone achieve personal life goals – whatever they may be.

The second piece of advice is to build a habit – the first few weeks are the hardest, so stick with it. I also really advocate for focusing on ‘your personal best’. In life, we are easily influenced by the top performers – the elite. But with exercise, your focus should be your personal best, and constantly pushing yourself forward. Don’t compare yourself to others – unless you really want to. And track your progress with data – you don’t have to be a data geek to get the most out of a Wattbike."

What’s been your biggest sporting moment to date, and when you look back on it, what part does preparation play in the feelings you have about that moment?

"Completing my first Ironman, raising money for Mind, the UK mental health charity. This was only my second triathlon, having only previously completed an Olympic distance to test out my transitions mainly. I trained for this for over 18 months and will never forget the day when I clicked ‘enter’. I’m also the furthest thing physically from the traditional Ironman physique – I’m not ultra-lean or toned – but Wattbike has helped me build a very strong cardiovascular engine.

Wattbike and my Ironman journey were also closely linked to my mental health journey, of which I’ve suffered personally as have some of my nearest and dearest. The focus, the tracking progress, the ability to take a massive problem/challenge and break it down into small pieces and mini-challenges was key, and not to mention the incredible power of regular exercise on overall mental health."

A Community United

The support from the local community has been overwhelming. Alongside Professor Greg Whyte OBE, Roger received encouragement from Kevin Ford and Fergus Murison, as well as numerous parents, students, and staff members.

Looking Ahead

Roger's next challenge is already on the horizon. He is currently training for the 32nd edition of L'Étape du Tour de France on 7th July 2024, a demanding 138km route with over 4,600 meters of ascent. Additionally, in September, he plans to swim the length of Lake Windermere, the UK's longest lake, spanning 17.5 kilometres. These upcoming challenges underscore Roger's relentless pursuit of pushing his limits and raising funds for worthy causes.

Support and Follow

For those inspired by Roger's incredible journey, donations can be made to support the Marlow and District Schools' Boathouse Trust. The goal is to secure a permanent home for rowing for the two Marlow secondary schools, bringing lasting value to the community and inspiring future generations in sport.

For more updates and to donate, visit GoFundMe.

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