Cycling to work means 144 miles in saddle

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It is a feat which most of us would struggle to achieve once in a lifetime. Every Friday, Simon Tout rises at 4.30am, pulls on his cycling shorts and gets on his bike for an epic ride.

He takes four hours to cycle 72 miles – all the way from his home in Havant to his job in London.

And at the end of the day, Simon gets back in the saddle for the return journey.

It's all part of Simon's bid to improve his performance in racing time trials.

Simon, 38, who lives in Mavis Crescent, Havant, and is a tax adviser for oil giant Shell, goes through a tub of Vaseline a month but is still saddle sore.

But he is used to the pain and says the 144-mile round trip once a week makes him feel more alert.

He said: '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?"

'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.'

The most difficult part of the journey begins when he hits Barnes in south London as he jostles for space with other cyclists on his way to The Strand. The first time he did the ride, it took him six hours but he now has it down to four.

Mr Tout, who races for Velocity Bikes, in London Road, North End, Portsmouth, and belongs to Hampshire Road Club, hopes he can inspire young people.

He said: 'They don't need to go to the extremes that I have but just need to get out there.'