Monday, 9 August 2010

Look what I of suffering!

These are photographs of me on Boltby Bank. Just after I passed the photographer I had to walk the rest of the way - like the other poor soles who tried and failed.

Sorry for the watermarks, I'm too stingy to buy the photos.

Suffering was the game, despite the photos making it look flat, it was very steep.

Almost a golden moment!

OK, I'll get to the point straight away, I missed out on the Gold Award by 12 minutes and 56 seconds! I received a Silver.

Sunday 8th August 2010, the Ryedale Rumble Sportive. I was really looking forward to this to test my hill climbing ability. It was route 2 with 71.1 miles (114.4 km). The 2 main events are the very steep Boltby Bank and Blakey Bank hill climbs.

The day started off a bit like my Richmond 3 dales ride in June. I felt groggy and tired by the time I reached the start venue, the magnificent Ampleforth College, situated between Thirsk and Helmsley. What a place! To compare this school with my old comprehensive is like comparing a penthouse to a mud hut, it truly is. Next time I'll take a photo, because the entrance we used was almost a straight mile uphill to the splendid collage sitting halfway up a hill. 

Once I set off I was by myself for much of the way until Boltby Bank 20 miles further on. the route profile was deceiving and there was many up and down hills shown only as bumps on the map. So, arriving at Boltby bank I got a shock of my life. I can only describe it as a sheer vertical cliff face LOL. I got half way up and finally jumped off exhausted, but not before passing the event photographer. All that hill training and I still had to walk 50 metres to the top!!!

A steep descent from the top of Boltby was tricky as was the ford at the bottom, to which a girl fell in. The long uphill drag from there was leg burning especially after Boltby. 

By now, my stomach was hurting, I seemed to have cramp or a stitch. It felt very uncomfortable. I soon realised it might be the change of food and drink I was using. Reading many articles I decided to try a new way of continuing with my energy levels when cycling. Simply put, I took too much food and too much energy drinks. 

At Helmsley, again I took too long at the feed station. The next 5 miles was going was fairly fast as I was on a main A170 road. Once off the A170 a series of complicated minor and farm track roads made way for Blakely Bank. Even from a distance I could see this was long and just as steep as Boltby. I struggled on. Stopped and rested, struggled on and then just as other cyclists did, got off and walked.

Hell burned into legs.

Strangely, walking up probably saved a lot of energy because at the top I was very fast over Blakely ridge down to Hutton-le-Hole then then next feedstation. There, I ditched all my energy drinks and filled up with fresh plain water and GOD did it feel much better. Over the next hour my stomach ache went and I was more convinced more then ever it was the energy drink giving me jip.

The last hour and a bit I felt good, a bit tired and leg achy, but cycling at a constant speed. I was very surprised I was catching up with other cyclists who looked completely Fooked. The last 1 mile into Ampleforth College is cruel and the finishing line is on a shallow hill.

So. My finishing time was 05:14:56. Not bad and almost within my predicted time.

What did I learn and what did I do wrong? Mostly learned that 25% hills and cycling are harder then 8 hours walking in Scotland LOL

My bike is a Cyclocross bike and the gearing was simply under geared.  The lowest my gear inches are 36 front cog and 25 rear cog = 38 gear inches. Compare this to a compact geared road bike of 34 front/27 rear = 33.1 gear inches. So, a new road bike specific for hilly sportives might be handy. Or, a new 12-27 rear cassette would be my cheapest option this would make it 36/27 = 35.2 gear inches. 

Energy food and drink is great in principle, but it does seem to upset my stomach. I'm pretty certain now that I have to find my tipping point where I can ride with just plain water. I think that may be at 30 miles before food intake replenishes lost energy. If so, then most sportives have feed stations within this 30 mile zone. So, I need to know exactly how much water to take and a spare energy gell and a few jelly babies as emergency food. 

Clothing, well this is the second sportive it's been spot on. Only cycling shorts and top. No rain jackets or windproofs. The cycling shoes are great and have loads of air vents - absolutely no sweaty feet.

Next ride is possibly the Cumberland challenge in September. This is over 100 miles and apart from a 1 major climb it's mostly rolling. But i may need a "babysitter" as it'll be an all day ride.

I feel a bit tired, but no sore knees or stiff legs, and could if needed cycle another 50 miler. Next year, I'll be blazing for Gold Award standard in every event.