September 2023 Rider of the Month, Stuart Blofeld

Stuart Blofeld’s ElliptiGO statistics are impressive: He has clocked the fastest 5K speed ever: 23.35 miles per hour. He’s number one in single-ride elevation (93,587.6 feet). He’s racked up the top speed at just about every distance. Earlier this summer, he rode a blistering 5 hour, 3 minute century (100 miles/160 kilometers), which is an average pace of 19.8 miles per hour! And last month, he set a record in the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Randonneur. Stu is also a two-time ElliptiGO Rider of the Month — check out his 2014 interview. He’s accomplished a lot since then! We talked with Stu to find out about his incredible PBP finish, his record-shattering rides and what keeps him GOing so far and so fast.

Stu lives with his wife, Kriszti, and children, Lili and Jasper, in the south of England in a small town called Leighton Buzzard, a 30-minute train ride from central London. He works from home, delivering online software training for the construction sector that focuses on environmental and sustainability metrics. “Reducing our impact on our planet and the use of finite resources is essential,” says Stu. “It’s been my passion since my studies.”

Stu was also passionate about long-distance running when he first heard about ElliptiGO bikes. In 2010, while listening to a podcast called “Running Stupid,” he heard about ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes riding to the start of the Los Angeles marathon on an elliptical bike. Stu was immediately intrigued.

“My son’s birth was imminent. I knew I wouldn’t have the same time available to go out for three- to six-hour training runs,” Stu shares. He thought that stand-up cycling would be a great complement for his ultra-running training. The only problem was that ElliptiGO bikes weren’t yet available in the UK.

Luckily, he didn’t have to wait too long. In 2011, as soon as Idai Makaya started offering ElliptiGO test rides in England, Stu signed up. Stu recalls, “We rode around Willen Lake. Idai’s passion and enthusiasm for this strange new elliptical bike immediately grabbed me.” Then Stu confesses, “To be honest, I knew I was going to buy one even before the test ride! But the ride cemented the deal and Idai had sold his first ElliptiGO, an 8S!”

Stu immediately began incorporating ElliptiGO cycling into his running regimen. He also started commuting to work on his new bike. He says, “Since then, I’ve completed some iconic ultra races, including the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run in California and the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France.” Today, Stu still runs distances ranging from his local 5K parkrun to marathons. But what he’s really focused on now are long-distance endurance rides on ElliptiGO bikes.

“The ElliptiGO is just a great way to go and explore and experience new places,” says Stu. “That’s the attraction of riding longer distances.” His first 1,000-kilometer (621.4 mile) ElliptiGO ride was in 2014, the Audax Mille Cymru 1000K, which is considered one of the toughest amateur cycling events in Europe. “It was an epic ride that pushed me to my limits. I finished it in 73.5 hours, getting just six hours of sleep total throughout the event,” he says.

The 2015 Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Randonneur was his next challenge. Eight ElliptiGO riders, including Stu and Idai, were the first cyclists ever to take on the 1,230-kilometer (764.3 mile) race on elliptical bikes. Six crossed the finish line under the 90-hour time limit, with Stu finishing third among them in 87 hours, 28 minutes. Idai set an elliptical bike record, finishing in 83 hours, 38 minutes.

The following year, Stu completed a 2,100-kilometer (1,304.9 mile) ride in just seven days. On the longest coastal road in the world, the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, Stu rode an average of 186 miles per day. It was a long, rainy, sleep-deprived battle that Stu says pushed him to the very brink of his limits (and possibly beyond). Still, Stu managed to cross the finish line in Londonderry before the 175-hour time limit.  

Stu continued to rack up the mileage, elevation and epic rides, year after year. When asked which ride stands out the most, Stu says, “Every ride has been a truly unique experience, so it’s really hard to pick one. They challenge you in different ways. Each one evokes many memories and feelings, from the sheer thrill, exhilaration and burning quads of a fast century ride to the sheer battle of mind and body overcoming adversity over seven sleepless days and nights around Ireland.”

Last month, in August 2023, he decided to take on the PBP again. But, Stu being Stu, he wanted a new challenge. So, he decided to attempt the race on the ElliptiGO Road Stand Up Bike (RSUB). “It was a really daunting prospect. I had no idea if it was even possible to ride this distance on the RSUB,” says Stu. “That’s what made it so exciting!”

Stu has owned his RSUB for four years. “I still remember my first 50 miler on it,” he says. “I remember thinking I could never ride any further on it!” But over time, he’s ridden more than 5,000 miles on his RSUB. “It’s a very versatile bike, but it has to be tamed!” he says with a laugh. The prospect of riding it far and fast in the prestigious PBP kept Stu fully motivated during his eight months of training.

The PBP started with a bang when a woman backed into his friend’s car just as they arrived in Paris for on-site registration. Luckily, no one was hurt. Then his trusty front bike light wasn’t so trusty, and he had to swap it out. Next he endured what all ElliptiGO cyclists encounter: intense curiosity about his bike. Normally Stu is happy to chat about stand-up cycling, but right before a race was not ideal timing! Stu was relieved to finally get GOing as the sole stand-up cyclist in the race, a stand-out in the special bikes category that included recumbents, tandems, velomobiles and other eclectic bikes.

When the race began, it was warm and there was a slight headwind. Stu wasn’t feeling great after his first 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) in the race, and he tried to avoid thinking about the fact that he’d need to cover another 1,100 kilometers (683.5 miles). Then came the hills—but Stu says the RSUB performs well on hills, and he started having fun passing cyclists. He says, “I upgraded the wheels to carbon rims and that has made it lighter, more responsive and so much fun! I also upgraded the gears to a 12-speed for even better hill climbing capabilities.”

As the race continued, he was pleased that he was maintaining his target average moving pace of 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) per hour. And he turned 45 as he raced! “What a way to celebrate a birthday, doing the thing I love the most,” he says.

As the days passed and the miles dragged on, the hills became less fun. Lack of sleep began to affect his pace, too—he’d planned to get three hours of sleep here and there, but he’d only managed to get half that at his few sleep stops. He was riding further on his RSUB than ever before; his longest ride had been 615 kilometers (382.1 miles), and this race was double that.

Still, somehow he was feeling good. His ride was going just as he’d planned. During the day, the heat was stifling, but as he headed back to Paris, the roads were flat. Finally, the wind was at his back. As the sky grew dark and he rode toward the end, Stu allowed himself to believe that he just might accomplish his secret goal: to finish in under 80 hours. But that darned headlight started going out again. Then, Stu hit a hole and the light mount broke. Luckily, some local Frenchmen ran right over. One grabbed tape, and they taped the light to the mount and handlebar. Stu switched the light to its brightest setting, which finally stopped it from going off.

With that, Stu was safely back in the race again. He crossed the finish line with a time of 77 hours, 15 minutes and 27 seconds—more than 10 hours faster than his 2015 PBP (elliptical bike) time. It was also the fastest PBP completion ever for any stand-up bike! Bravo, Stu! You can read Stu’s complete account of the race on his blog here.  

Stu says that the key to staying fit and having fun on the ElliptiGO is to mix up the distances and the speed you ride. He varies his own training, focusing on long-distance rides on the weekends but also incorporating much shorter sprint distances and everything in between.

In addition to his RSUB, Stu still rides that 8S he bought from Idai. Stu has ridden the 12-year-old bike more than 20,000 miles. “I modified it with the Alfine 11-speed hub and I gave it a fresh respray in gunmetal silver when it turned 10 years old,” he says. He says that toe cages are a must. “They saved me more than once on the very rough descents in Ireland, which caused my feet to jump off the pedals!” Stu explains. “They’re a key safety accessory that no one should ride without, in my opinion.”

Stu’s not content to rest on his laurels, but he hasn’t yet decided what his next big race might be, though he’s considering the Pan Celtic Race in 2024. Stu is also itching to set another record. “I was very close to breaking sub-five hours for 100 miles this summer, and so I’d quite like to have another go at that,” he says. “I’m convinced it’s possible, and to average 20 miles per hour over that distance would be pretty cool.”

Big goals are what keep him GOing, after all. “I find that it’s a lot harder to motivate myself to train and ride consistently unless I have set myself a goal,” he explains. “It keeps me focused and accountable to my GERC peers.”

He calls the Global ElliptiGO Riders Club (GERC) “the beating heart of ElliptiGO.” Stu says, “The GERC provides accountability and inspiration to us all, to set goals and strive to better ourselves. It’s a fantastic way to bring this community together. I’m so proud to be a part of it. The fun we have competing in the monthly challenges is a testament to our shared understanding and togetherness.”

Stu says that he’s very excited to see what the future holds for ElliptiGO. “I can’t thank the whole team at ElliptiGO enough for creating a product that allows its customers to share this truly unique journey with others. It’s incredible,” he says. “What I love most is that ElliptiGO bikes are such versatile machines that don’t ever limit you. You can dream BIG and GO for it.”

Stu, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for YOU! We know you’ll keep dreaming big, riding fast, setting new goals, GOing for it and inspiring all of us!

You can contact ElliptiGO with nominations to Rider of the Month or share your own story. It may just be the next feature!

3 Responses

  1. Bob Rowden says:

    Congratulations on so many amazing achievements, Stu! Thank you so much for your unwavering dedication to the ElliptiGO Community! Your commitment to continually find new ways to challenge yourself should be an example to us all. ElliptiGO products allow us to do that. Keeps posting all your great rides on Strava! I enjoy seeing you and Idai first thing in the morning when I check my feed here from Cali. Keep GOing, Stu!

  2. Jeanne Wilson says:

    Fantastic Stu! You seem to complete the impossible! Can’t wait to see what comes next. Congrats!

  3. Melissa Satterfield says:

    Congratulations! This is some impressive riding!!

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