Roland Karthaus is a Director at Matter Architecture. We chatted to him about his plans to complete The 1500 challenge, riding 1,500 miles in 15 weeks. Not only that but he's managed to weave his love of brewing beer into his fundraising!

What’s your challenge?

My challenge was to ride 1,500 miles out on the road in 15 weeks. In the past I've done plenty of long-distance cycling and wouldn't have found this too difficult, but this winter has been harder than most. I do ride on Zwift, but indoor cycling doesn't motivate me in the same way - I just crave the outdoors and the open road.  Although the winter wasn't unusually cold, the persistent northerly wind, lack of commuting, and group riding meant I was struggling with even medium length rides - often turning back home early feeling beaten which really dents my confidence - so an average of 100 miles per week seemed a lot back then. 

Cycling is really important to me - I'm lucky enough to have space to work from home and a garden which has made lockdown much easier than it is for many people, but being able to get out on the bike still feels like a crucial part of staying healthy and happy.

How have you been finding it?

The 1500 has been a great motivator and helped me rebuild from a bit of a low - a couple of big rides early on got me back into the groove and now I've actually passed my goal with five weeks still to go - so 1,500 miles in 10 weeks. 

For the biggest ride I took on the London Orbital Audax - a 200 mile loop around London that you can do any time (called a 'permanent' in the audax world). I rode it with a friend Caroline, who has competed in the Race Across France and is racing the Transcontinental this year. She's also rebuilding her stamina and we both found it challenging, but sharing the ups and downs with someone else makes it a lot easier. We set off at dawn and got back to the same point just after sunset, 13 and a half hours later. It's not the longest distance I've ever ridden but its a route I've tried a few times before and for various reasons failed to finish, so that felt like a big achievement. 

I also ride with Lea Valley Cycle club and now we can organise club rides again, I'm taking small groups on longer rides: we did 110 miles round Essex and Hertfordshire last Sunday.  Before the end of the 15 weeks, I'm hoping to take part in Chase the Sun - 205 miles from east coast at sunrise to west coast by sunset.  

What’s been the hardest thing about it?

I was pretty daunted about getting fit for long distances again and the start was hardest.  The more miles I did, the better I felt. 

What’s the thing that keeps you going when the going gets tough?

Cycling is so much more psychological than physical - once you've been through a few really dark patches and still made it home, you learn that you can always keep going. 

Anything else in the pipeline?

Another of my passions is beer and I've been brewing for 25 years, with gradually increasing levels of sophistication. When the pubs closed, I increased my brewing output to keep my friends and neighbours in beer, served from my doorstep. As I've already passed my distance challenge, I'm holding a 'Community Beer Day' on 22nd and 23rd May, with a selection of ales, to try and boost my sponsorship. My current favourite is a Juicy IPA with tropical flavours and a strong hop profile.  I'm afraid this is an 'In Real Life' event only, but if you're around Walthamstow on 22nd May from 4pm, get in touch and drop in for a pint!  If you cycle over, I'll even give you a free refill.  


You can find out more about Roland's challenge and sponsor him here.  We wish him all the best in completing his challenge and raising additional funds via his brewing skills.

Solo riding through a cold winter was tough
Spring rides with Lea Valley CC
Coffee-powered longer rides with friends
Juicy IPA home crafted beer


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