Sunday, 13 June 2010

That's much better - NorthernRock Cyclone

So, this is my second Sportive...well many regard the NortherRock Cyclone not as a true Sportive bike ride but a fun ride, however,  it was still a test and a very good test at that.

Two weeks ago I did the Richmond 3 Dales which at 53 miles over the Pennines was a tough bike ride. The Cyclone was 63 miles long over probably a slightly harder route. Both routes were tough, but I think the Cyclone just edged it and not because of the extra 10 miles. One only truly real problem part in the 3 dales was the hairpins on the Stang road. The cyclone had the Ryal hills which was hard but I was fitter and had more energy.

So, let's compare times. 

  • Richmond 3 dales 53 miles: 04:26:56 fastest speed: 38 mph
  • Cyclone 63 miles: 04:29:02  fastest speed: 44.1 mph

Immediately you can see how poorly I did the 3 Dales in. I had learned a lot just from 1 race. The Cyclone was rode with minimum clothing (shirt, very thin windproof, shorts, socks and shoes) I carried nothing in case it rained. I therefore felt fresher and lighter.

The next detail I changed was the very start of the day, breakfast. I ate much more and had a sandwich just before the start. I also introduced energy foods and drinks during the ride. Because Morrisons is less then 1/2 mile from my house, I just bought Lucazade gel and Lucazade glucose tablets. I must say they worked a treat and will continue to use them. I still don't like energy bars with nuts in them as they make my mouth dry and I can have problems with stuck nuts in my teeth and throat. I also tried a a small caffeine drink called "Voltz"  which is 40p from my local cheap supermarket and that perked me up near the end of the race.

Bikewise, everything was the same as the 3 dales. I still think my 25 mm tyres are probably more confortable then the 23mm Lugano tyres I used but I have been impressed with how tough and uncut the Lugano's have been in 200 miles.

Again, my time was spoilt by spending too much time at the feed stations. This time there was 2 feed/timing stations. My bike's computer showed my complete time as 04:13:02, so I spent just over 15 minutes in the stations in total.

Overall I am extremely happy at the time. I'm pretty certain next year I will get under 4 hours easily. Next is the Ryedale Rumble in the North Yorkshire Moors. This sportive is 71 miles long (again I'm chickening out of the 100 miler). I have a projected time of under 5 hours.

If all goes according to plan I will then apply for the Cumberland Challenge and that's the full 100 mile route. Estimated time for that is 8 hours....gulp!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Loneliness of a long distance bike ride.

Photo from a professional photographer who sells prints to clients on races. As you can see I'm struggling just before Tann Hill. (sorry about the copyright watermark, but I ain't buying the photo with a face like that!)

Done my first Biking Sportive last Saturday and now I've almost recovered 3 days later. I've trained fairly regular, but only recently fairly hard on local hills. So, it was a HUGE disappointment to be 50 minutes over my estimated time for the 53 mile race. 

The Richmond Cycling Clubs 3 dales Sportive is 53 miles over the North Yorkshire Dales involving challenging climbs of the Stang and Tann Hill. There was also 2 other races, 80 miles and 100 miles for those elite riders with hard arses and massive thighs!

I woke up early so as to arrive at Richmond before 08:00am, however, I felt really tired and lethargic by the time I did arrive. After registration and setting up my bike I started with heavy legs and feeling uncomfortable.  The weather forecast had predicted heavy rain, but it was slight drizzle and warm. I wore a long thermal shirt, a cycling shirt and waterproof bike jacket. This made me overcook straight away on the first steep climb and this was within the first mile!

The next big wrong was going fast down a steep bank and missing the left turn signs! This lost me 10 minutes as i backtracked, and I wasn't the only one to have got slightly lost as well.

By the 15 mile mark I was very hot and had no chance to cool off until the first feeding station at Keld at the 30 mile mark. So digging in deep to climb the very steep ascent of The Stang was very tiring. I had trained really well on hills this steep and had no problem, but this just seemed too much and finally I give up, got off the bike and pushed it up!

The decent was fast and furious, I reached 38mph on the tight twisting single tracked road. Had it not been for cars coming the other way, I'd probably have gotten 40.

A long gradual pull up to Tann Hill Pub was sapping in strength and will power. By the time I got to the top I knew I was about 30 minutes behind schedule. The downhill section from Tann Hill to Keld feeding station was into a head wind and still required pedaling hard.

At the feeding and timing station, my plan was to fill with water and get out fast, but I stayed and had a sausage roll and a few jaffa cakes (free of course so it was tempting) and stayed for 10 minutes. At this point I took off my thermal shirt and immediately felt better cooled. The last 23 miles was much much better and only the last 5 miles did I start to run out of energy.

So the time of 4hours 27 minutes was just under 1 hour more then expected. Very disappointing. As this was my first Sportive, the lessons learned were as follows:

  • I wore too much clothing, best to harden myself up to cold and damp.
  • The 23mm racing tyres I used were too thin, I need to use my usual 25mm tyres.
  • Learn the course, probably by biking it a week before hand.
  • Have a sleep in the car before the race to take the edge off the tiredness.
  • I took too many tools, inner tubes, first aid etc. Lighten up next time.
  • Pedal harder!

OK, so next is the Northern Rock Cyclone friendly at 63 miles. Projected time is 4 Hours. 

I now fancy a bash at the Cumbrian Sportive in August.