Failing (or the Art of Compounding Mistakes…)

At the start of the year I sat down and wrote down a series of things that I wanted to achieve from the 2015 time-trial season.  There were some main goals, some interim goals and some one-off goals.  I then planned out my race calendar so that races that contributed to the main goals were classified as “A” races, “B” races contributed to the other goals and “C” races were simply about race-craft or training.  My training plans would build towards an “A” race and my focus would be 100% on preparation, so it was supposed to be highly scientific and carefully planned.

And then reality happened.

For my first “A” race earlier in the season everything was going to plan in preparation, but the race itself didn’t turn out how I thought it would and at the time I didn’t know why – with hindsight I was at the start of an illness that knocked me back for about 4 weeks.

For my second “A” race I really wasn’t in the right mental frame of mind.  I almost didn’t ride.  The race went entirely to plan!  Make of that what you will.

My third “A” race was over the weekend just gone and involved a 300+ mile round trip.  Again, everything was going to plan.  In the previous week I’d ridden two TT’s at a course best for me. I arrived at the HQ very relaxed and confident.  My warmup was okay.  The trouble was it was very hot – the Garmin and car gauges were reading 30˚C.  I decided against a bottle on the bike because, hey, I’d never needed one for a 25 before.

Hello mistake number 1.

I rode to the start.  It was hot but okay when I was moving.  I rolled past the start and then further up did a U-turn and came back down to the queue of riders, forgetting to change to a higher gear and leaving the bike in too big a gear for my start.

And that was mistake number 2.

My intention was to hold the front brake on, lean the bike forward and flip the gear like I’d done a hundred times before.  I pulled the brake and heard an alarming “ping” as the right hand caliper, hidden behind an aero fairing inside the front fork, clamped to the wheel.  The rider in front of me was at the start line which meant I had a little over a minute.  The wheel wouldn’t turn, the caliper wouldn’t move.  I had no tools to remove the fairing.  I wouldn’t recommend this at home, and with hindsight it didn’t help much, but I loosened the wheel and repositioned it at a slight angle such that it would turn, albeit still touching the pad.  I realised I didn’t dare pull the front brake so I’d be approaching every roundabout simply feathering the rear.  I didn’t have time to be too nervous about that because then it was my turn to push off.  N1/25C has a gift hill at the start.  I realised going down that that I wasn’t going as fast as I should be and so my natural instinct kicked in.

Mistake number 3.

I pushed a bit harder than I should have done, and kept on pushing, but still the speed didn’t come.  At roundabouts (there are lots on N1/25C) I was backing off and using my one brake carefully.  At 8 miles the course turns back on itself and on this day was into a cross headwind.  By 10 miles I was overheating and my power was dropping as my heart rate was rising.  At 13 miles the course turns back again and the sweat was dripping down onto my visor.  I was cursing myself for not putting a bottle on the bike as I was so thirsty.  I’d pretty much run out of gas.  The rest of the ride was a bit of a blur of unpleasantness, and at the end I felt dazed and dizzy as I got my breath back before heading back to HQ.  To be confronted by my worst 25 time for 2 years. In an “A” race.  AN “A” RACE!

Anyway, I sulked for the duration of the drive home.  Took the brake apart to find the broken spring – see picture.  Manufactured a pretty dodgy Heath Robinson fix.  Emailed Canyon to request a warranty replacement.  Got my stuff ready for the following day.  Sulked a bit more.

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On Sunday morning I just got on my bike and rode.  No warmup as such, a lot of care on the front brake (used it only once) and concentrated on putting the power down in the right places.  I came 6th overall in a time around 4 minutes quicker than the day before. I’d like to say it made up for the Saturday, and in some ways it did.  But I still need to re-assess my overall goals and probably change them, as the ones I’d set are pretty much insurmountable now.  So that remains a real and tangible disappointment after all the effort I’ve put in over the winter.

Anyway, lessons to be learned and more plans to be made.  You might call it a Plan B.  Onwards and upwards.

Clawing my way back – June

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I’ve been following a thread on the timetrialling forum that is currently discussing natural talent vs training and application.  I’d recommend reading it (link here) because it’s interesting and informative, touching on subjects like training load, training approaches and racing.  The great and the good of the TT world, guys who have significant experience AND talent, have pitched in with their experience, which makes it fascinating for somebody like me who is always striving to improve.  And that’s the point for me.  I get my enjoyment from training and competing in TT’s because whatever I do, I like to do it as well as I can, and hopefully see some improvement.  So when I’ve done a training session that has, literally, turned my legs to jelly, I get great satisfaction from the fact that I know that’s improving me.  Some people like to ride their bikes with others, stopping for coffee and cake, and generally just enjoying the fresh air and the view.  That’s brilliant, because they’re doing something they enjoy and anything that gets people out on their bikes is great.  I like that occasionally too, but in general it doesn’t really work for me.  Life’s too short.  I need that edge, pushing myself a bit more each time.  Seeing how far I can get.  It’s what makes it fun, and reading what these other guys are posting on the forum, I still have plenty of headroom for improvement, even at my age.  It’s hard work, but rewarding, and I’m a great believer in “you get out what you put in.”  I try to visualise that when I’m suffering on the turbo and the temptation is to just stop and get off.

June started with a trip to Rainford on the first Wednesday of the month.  I’d not ridden there this year so it was good to get back and I used the ride to try a different approach – reducing my cadence to push a bigger gear.  The results seemed promising and I recorded my best time for that course.  4th from 40, 22:14

On the Saturday I took a trip to Hull again in an attempt to get a fast ride and beat my PB.  Yet again it was blowing a gale and the crosswind made it a tricky ride.  The course is fast though so I managed to get within 9 seconds of my PB so I wasn’t too disappointed.  If I get the right conditions on this course I’m confident I can take time off.  23rd from 115, 20:57

I was up early on Sunday to ride a 25 at Prees Heath.  The wind had calmed a bit but the D25/8e course is quite exposed, so even a slight wind can make sections of it very painful and hard work.  I managed to record my best time for the course and finish reasonably high up.  8th from 77, 57:34

The midweek Seamons club 10 was a nice evening and I managed to get under 23 for the first time on this course.  Interestingly I recorded the same time as Chris from Seamons (very pleasing – he’s flying) and record my second win on this series, albeit joint!  1st from 33, 22:51

 Next up was a trip north to Levens and another potentially fast course.  It is somewhat more difficult though when the wind is blowing and so it was – it felt quite hard going right from the off!  22nd from 106, 21:02

Another midweek trip to Rainford and I managed to record exactly the same time as my previous ride, albeit on slightly less power.  4th from 23, 22:14

I’d been looking forward to riding A25/11 (Etwall) because it’s known as a fast course.  It’s the other side of the McDonalds roundabout on the A50 to J5/8, and so comes without the concrete mountain at the end.  When I got the start sheet I realised I was out of my depth, with some of the best TTers in the country taking part, including a certain Matthew Bottrill.  My start was fairly uneventful and I was soon on the A50 and pushing on.  It didn’t feel particularly fast and I was beeped and buzzed by a few cars, which was slightly unnerving.  The heavens then opened and I got caught in a really heavy shower that rapidly soaked me through and made visibility difficult.  A dodgy moment on the approach to a roundabout, where my brakes basically didn’t work then locked up into a skid, made me even more nervy.  The shower passed and I made it to the halfway point in what I’d describe as light drizzle.  I normally have a good idea of how I’m going but when it rains heavily and you are concentrating it is very hard to see the numbers and do the sums in your head.  I went round the McDonalds roundabout very gingerly and before long the rain started again, getting heavier and heavier to the point that my visor was covered on the outside with raindrops and misting up on the inside.  My Garmin was also covered so I couldn’t see any of the readings on it, or more importantly, more than a few yards in front of me.  To make it worse the traffic was throwing up significant amounts of spray, so even though I attempted to clear my visor there was no real point.  I was pretty glad when I reached the exit from the A50 and rode into the less busy finishing straight, even though there were still cars flying by.  I still couldn’t read the Garmin so I had no idea what time I’d done.  I was hoping I’d beaten my PB as I passed the finish line.  I did briefly see Bottrill going the other way – he just looks different class on the bike with an amazing aero position and effortless-looking style.  After getting changed I went to see the board.  There was an agonising wait until my time was confirmed and I was delighted to see I’d taken more than 90 seconds off my PB, so I was pretty happy with that.  More importantly, I’d identified a “52” 25 as one of my season goals, so as I wrote at the start of this piece, seeing evidence of progression is great.  As for being out of my depth, that was confirmed with the results coming in from everybody else and my overall position.  Something more to aspire to!  37th from 103, 52:30

The next morning was a very early start (5am) to go back to Levens and ride the 25 course there.  Suffice it to say my legs weren’t up to the task and with a stiff breeze it felt like a very difficult ride.  I was pretty much wrecked afterwards.  11th from 48, 58:15

By Wednesday I’d done a big training session as part of a big block so I was struggling a little bit at the Seamons Club 10.  I beat my best time on the course but it’s all relative – it was only good enough for 4th from 25, 22:47 

My final race of the month was good old J2/9.  The sun was shining but there was a bit of a breeze.  I managed to get my pacing about right, and didn’t lose concentration in the middle, which added up to a course best for me and my biggest prize of the year – £20!  6th from 86, 56:33

Overall, it’s been a month where I’ve had to work hard to build my fitness back up and started to move forward again from my setback in May.

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June saw me ride 478 miles at around 19mph average speed, with 16,774ft ascent.  That took 16,906kcals with another 5,451kcals in the 8hrs 02mins of turbo training – 1529TSS.

Summer is here, enjoy your riding whatever form it takes.

May Stats

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As I wrote last month I entered May full of the joys of flu which forced me to take 2 weeks completely off training and racing.  I missed two midweek races and two weekend races.  My comeback was my first 50 mile ride of the year – not the best recovery strategy but sometimes these things don’t go to plan!  As well as physically needing to recover from illness I also found, for the first time, that it was a real battle to recover mentally.  As I struggled through the month to get my performances back to where they had been, with training and racing feeling really hard, I found it difficult to get my head back into a positive mode, and it would have been easy to just give up and let it all fall away.  The poor weather also made this seem like an easy option.  This is where you need to keep plugging away, and where there is no substitute for putting the work in.  Especially at my age – I turned 48 this month – because fitness falls away really quickly and takes time to build back up.  It’s frustrating when you aren’t used to that.  You get out what you put in.

So, as I wrote on the 2nd May on J2/1 (10)  I was DNS, and again on the 3rd May on A10/16 (10).

On the 9th May I started my comeback on J4/16 (50) and recorded my worst 50 mile result for 2 years.  I approached this with a view of taking it relatively easily at the start and gradually trying to increase my power output during the ride.  As an approach it didn’t work.  I just started off relatively easily and then got worse.  My power fell well short of what I’d expect for a 50.  21st from 66, 02:02:23

 Normally J5/8 is a super quick 25 course where I’ve previously set my PB, but my power again ended up being 10% down.  However this was the most bizarre TT I’ve ever done because of the really strong wind.  The outward leg had a tailwind that blew me to an 18:46 first 10 and the turn (13.9 miles) at 26:43 and 31.3mph average.  The block headwind on the way back, up the concrete mountain, was simply horrific and it felt like it went on forever, taking 30:48 for the remaining 11.1 miles at an average 21.8mph, and cruelly exposing my lack of fitness and lower power. 36th from 103, 57:33

 On the following Wednesday I rode the evening  Seamons Club 10.  Still 10% down on the power despite a high perceived effort, and my first ever disqualification for breaching a local rule.  DQ’d! (my 23:32 would have been good enough for 4th from 27)

The weather on the 23rd May was scorchio – the best weather of the season so far.  As I turned up at J2/9 (25) I wasn’t at all  optimistic as I’d seen no evidence of my power or fitness returning, and Wednesday had been a let down when I’d felt I should be improving.  Despite trying really hard I still could not put out the power I usually did on this course but the reduction was smaller, so you have to take positives where you can get them.  And my time was the second best I’ve ever done on J2/9 so again, small positives help build confidence back up.  20th from 107, 57:15

Given my performance on the 9th I had really low expectations for the National Clarion 50 championships on 31st May, and the weather gave me no reason to be anything but pessimistic.  This was an A race for me, so I should have been totally physically and mentally prepared and focused.  I did what I was supposed to do in training but mentally I was nowhere near – even seriously thinking of not bothering driving 120 miles to ride for 2 hours in the wind and the rain.  As it was, I found myself parked on a country lane in Grantham (near Nottingham – the course was A50/5) trudging to the village hall in the rain, with the treetops swirling violently in the gusting wind, wondering who the hell I was kidding.  I used the fact that I had a “5” number to try to jolt me into a more positive frame of mind but I was getting wet just getting ready so that didn’t really help.  On the ride to the start I decided that the strategy for the previous 50 was going out of the window, and I would start off at my 25 power levels and just ride at that level for as long as I could.  This meant dropping my natural cadence a bit to hold the power easier and actually it seemed to work.  As soon as I started I felt much more comfortable, even on the long A52 stretch into the headwind.  Obviously I wasn’t far in so the test would be how long it would last.  And the answer was I was able to roughly hold it most of the way.  I had my usual drop in output/lack of concentration from miles 20 to 30 (I mentally break a 50 down into 5 10’s) but then got quicker and quicker on the next two 10 mile laps.  By the end I just missed out on going under 2 hours but I logged a power PB for a 50 so was really, really pleased with that.  As it was, it was enough to clinch the National Clarion 50 (although I’m not sure I would have had the current champion not DNF’d with a puncture) and 7th overall, plus a tenner for fastest veteran.  I’m really glad I decided to ride! 7th from 53, 02:00:34

May saw me ride 395 miles at around 18.7mph average speed, with 12,113ft ascent.  That took 15,460kcals with another 5,960kcals in the 8hrs 22mins of turbo training – 1412TSS.

April – in like a lion, out like a lamb…

Ade's Road Cycling Blog My form was building nicely going into April and I was hoping to come out of it with points towards the National Clarion Points Competition.  There would be two attempts to do this and things didn’t go to plan in either case. The first weekend of the month was a 25 on the Saturday and the National Clarion Hilly 24 mile hilly TT on the Sunday.  I was caught in two minds about whether to take the Saturday easy and save something for Sunday or to just ride it as normal.  The weather was good on the Saturday but was expected to be worse on the Sunday so I decided to see how I was going and take it from there.  As it was, things seemed to unravel from the start.  On J2/9 you start in a quiet country road for a short distance before turning left onto the A535 and then straight into a fast descent before a short but sharp uphill section.  At this point I got stuck behind 3 cars behind a rider in front for what seemed like a annoyingly long time.  It turned out to be clubmate Chris on his second lap.  My frustration translated itself into speed and I flew past him and continued on.  It wasn’t long before the next issue, coming out of Seven Sisters Lane onto the A50.  A girl in a car overtook me close to the junction and then pulled in front of me and stopped to wait for the traffic, forcing me to a skidding stop!  Again the adrenaline kicked in and pushed me on harder than I normally would at that point.  In the end I recorded my best ever J2/9 time, winning a tenner as well.  7th from 98, 56:49 I drove with Kate to Llangollen on the Sunday expecting a 24 mile TT over both sides of the Horseshoe Pass.  The rear wheel I wanted to use had a last-minute puncture on the Sunday morning so I was forced to put my disc on – with a 23 cassette not an ideal combination for a big hill.  I figured I’d make the time up on the rest of the course.  Anyway, the long and the short of it was that fog on the tops meant the ride could not take place as planned and it became a hill climb.  I didn’t even bother because there would have been no point.  A long way to go for nothing – nil point! On the Tuesday I was off work and rode the VTTA 10 mile TT on J2/1.  This was another agonisingly frustrating ride.  I was absolutely flying all the way out and back until the Egerton Arms where a rider off 7 minutes before me was riding sat up on the hoods with a queue of cars and an HGV behind him.  For over a mile I literally freewheeled behind the traffic.  The £7 I won was no consolation as I was sure I was on for my best time on that course.  13th from 72, 23:05 On the Saturday I was due to ride a 25 but on arrival at HQ we were told that there were roadworks, but the organisers would run a 10 instead, which was great as it meant we at least got to ride.  The ride was okay but my power seemed down again – maybe 10W off what it should be. 10th from 62, 22:54 The following Wednesday saw the first Seamons club 10 on the new course.  It’s a decent enough course and I enjoyed it.  My power was back up again and I had a good ride.  2nd from 35, 23:10 On the Thursday and Friday I came down with a heavy cold.  I wasn’t going to ride on the Saturday but decided to give it a gentle go.  I didn’t get to ride as Chris from the club was involved in a crash with a car and the event was cancelled.  Good luck to him in his recovery but a very sobering time. Next up was the Seamons club 10 on the Wednesday and my power seemed to be back to normal and my cold a distant memory as I rode to a win. 1st from 33, 23:02 I then tapered to my first “A” race of the season – the National Clarion 10 mile TT championship.  A long drive to Cambridgeshire saw the weather warm and sunny but blustery.  I felt confident and well prepared.  As soon as I started I was in trouble.  The perceived effort was higher than it should have been and I couldn’t maintain the power I needed to and am capable of. I don’t think it was the N1/10 course, although the number of roundabouts didn’t help with rhythm. By the end of the ride I was very disappointed and cut a forlorn figure as I handed my number back in.  I was 4th Clarion which meant only 20 points. 17th from 105, 22:44 The next day I rode the inter-club trophy ride with other club members, competing against two or three other local north west clubs.  Again my power was down but I managed to win the event and we won the trophy. 1st from 16(?), 23:46 Ade's Road Cycling Blog I was somewhat puzzled as to why my power was down but all was explained after I did a gentle L1 training ride on the Monday evening.  By the time I went to bed I was feeling really rough and a sleepless night later, feeling hot and cold, achy and very, very sorry for myself the explanation was clear.  So I’m not training or racing now until Saturday 9th May, which means missing two events this weekend, one of which I had a “0” start in.  However, for once, I am going to be sensible and wait. In summary then, as I write this feeling every one of my (nearly) 48 years, I realise I probably need to build a bit more rest into my programme.  April saw me ride 391 miles at around 17.3mph average, with 17,600ft of ascent.  I used 14,522 kcals and another 5,953 kcals in the additional 8hrs 34m of turbo training I did for a TSS of 1468.

Spring into the Dales 2015

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Spring into the Dales was my first ever audax back in 2010, and I’ve ridden it a few times since then.  It’s a scenic route and I’ve been blessed with some lovely spring weather in the past.  Today, however, was not one of those days.  Due to a slight route issue I added a mile on and started at the back of the field.  The first few miles is a big climb out of Hebden Bridge up and over to Oxenhope, which allowed me to reel in the majority of the riders in front.  By the summit I was very hot in my five layers (yes 5!) but by the bottom of the descent I was cold again, and the intermittent drizzle had turned into something more persistent.  At the first control I put a 6th layer on in true Pablo style but by now was getting wetter and wetter, and colder and colder.  At the second control in Gargrave my first pair of waterproof gloves were soaked, so I put my second pair on (I’ve learned my lesson on audaxes many times!).  These were meant to last me until the cafe control at 58 miles but had given up the ghost within the hour, such was the rain.

The wind had been carrying me to this point but as I turned East I was subject to some vicious crosswinds, and then south directly into the face of it.  At Rossi’s in Keighley I was so cold I could barely get my phone and money out to buy the hot coffee and cake I desperately needed.  My third pair of gloves went on and I was back out into it with the final climb back up from Oxenhope over the tops to Hebden Bridge.  Gloves No. 3 proved about as waterproof as a tissue and within a couple of miles my hands were freezing.  The wind was gusting badly now, across and into me as I climbed up the hill.  At times it was downright dangerous and a couple of times I was nearly blown into the verge, despite leaning into it at a precarious angle.  Downhill was probably more scary and I don’t think I’ve come down that hill any slower.  Thankfully the wind receded along with the altitude and I got back to the HQ shivering with unfeeling fingers but happy to finish.  It was cheering to be greeted by Peter marking cards but I didn’t stay long as I wanted to get home and get into dry clothes.  Not my best day on a bike!

Stats : 72.3 miles in 5hrs 5mins and 16s at 14.2mph average.  5,484ft ascent (definitely more – Garmin doesn’t work well in the rain!), 3,251 kcal used.  Average HR 128bpm

Strava ride here

March Roundup

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After what felt like a long winter of training I couldn’t wait to get going.  My plan was to use the TT’s in March (and to a lesser extent early April) to get back into racing and make adjustments to my position ready for the warmer months.  In addition, I’d planned an early trip to V718 in order to get a feel for the course before having a real crack at one of the fastest 10 courses later in the summer.  Weather wise March varied from beautiful, bright blue skies, to freezing cold rain and gale force winds.  I’m not sure why I’m surprised.

Despite looking forward to it for ages I was under no illusions that the first race would be horrible.  As it was the weather was reasonably kind, dry with only a little wind.  My ride went well.  I was using my ISM Adamo TT saddle and I was slipping forward a bit but I managed to record a slight increase in my best power for a 10 on my way to a time about 1 minute quicker than the equivalent ride last year.  I was happy enough with my placing and won a tenner for placing in the vets competition.  12th from 74, 23:12 

 The second weekend of March saw me riding an uncharacteristically early 25 on J2/9.  This was a ridiculously cold day and despite having tweaked my saddle and bars I couldn’t get comfortable for the whole ride, shuffling backwards and forwards.  Overall I managed to sneak in under the hour on a slow day and won another tenner, this time as part of the team prize.  My power stats were nothing to write home about but then again, with the amount of moving around, I wasn’t expecting them to be.  10th from 47, 59:15

 The third race was another 10 on the J4/17 course.  The final mile and a bit of the ride was into a very strong headwind which proved to be a killer for a lot of riders, myself included.  Again I wasn’t happy with the saddle but again I managed to win a tenner in the vets competition.  My power output was quite a bit down on the first week which was slightly worrying.  14th from 90, 23:16

 My final race of March was my recce to V718 in Hull.  This is a fast course but when I arrived it was blowing a gale, and there was talk of it being cancelled.  I was off quite late so got the benefit of seeing riders coming back in, shaking their heads!  The course itself is essentially a run along the A63 and back.  Going out the wind was across and over my shoulder, and the course felt really fast.  The turn was difficult and there was a horrible slog up what felt like a long drag with the wind feeling like it was head on for a while.  At the end I managed a respectable time in some very illustrious company and assuming I can get in again, I look forward to riding the course in better, warmer conditions.  24th from 90, 21:10

In summary then, March saw me ride 502 miles in 1d 5hrs 43m, at an average speed of 16.9mph.  I climbed 24,717ft and burned 17,926kcals.  On top of that I added another 18hrs 21m on the turbo, burning a further 12,511kcals.  Overall that meant a TSS of 2056 for the month.

Charlie Westlake Memorial Ride 2015

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Started off a reasonably nice day – not too cold but a bit windy!  The wind was WSW so the first section of the ride to was subject to crosswinds, but after Belmont it was pretty much behind for the next 20 miles or so.  From Belmont I pretty much rode on my own, albeit being in the same general vicinity as a couple of other riders for much of it.  The temperature was dropping all day and after Downham it started to hail, which into a headwind is particularly painful.  It didn’t last long and stayed pretty dry until the official finish at Owd Betts.  Riding home I got soaked – icy rain and hail for the second Sunday running.  Thankfully only 10 miles.  Oh, and my HR monitor packed up half way round, as it appears, did my cadence sensor! Overall it was nice to catchup with some people I’d not seen for a while, albeit briefly, and the route itself is interesting, so an enjoyable day.

Ride stats : 78.5 miles in 4hrs 44m at 16.6mph.  6,124ft ascent.

Strava ride here

February Stats

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Another cold month but more opportunity to get out on the road than January.  looking forward to some sunny riding days though!

  • 490 miles in 29hrs 28m
  • 16.6mph average speed
  • 20,845ft ascent
  • 18,015 kcals used – average HR 125bpm

And on the turbo

  • 14hrs 43m
  • 10,627kcals used – average HR 139bpm
  • Overall training TSS – 1910

Newport 200k Audax 2015 – Sooo Cold!

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It turns out the weather forecast these days is pretty accurate.  Unfortunately.  It was freezing cold but the skies were clear when around 70 hardy souls set off from Cheadle.  Apparently 42 people did not start, which is unusual for hardy audaxers although perhaps sensible.

In true Pablo-stylee I was wearing 5 layers but it was still freezing, especially my fingers and toes.  In fact the temperature didn’t get above freezing as far as I could see and it was quite a nervy ride because of the ice on the verges and edge of the road.  After the first control at 30 miles or so it started to gently rain.  White rain.  Otherwise known as snow.  Riding due south directly into the teeth of the headwind, the snow was being blown hard into my face, and it stung. And stuck to my beard!  And it was getting worse, starting to stick to the fields and, worryingly, the road.  Luckily (!?) after 5 miles or so it turned to heavy rain.  By now my feet, encased in waterproof Sealskinz overshoes over Northwave Fahrenheit waterproof boots over Sealskinz waterproof socks, were soaking wet with icy water.  My hands, encased in Sealskinz waterproof extreme winter gloves, were also soaking wet with icy water, and I was slowly losing the feeling in them, and any coherent movement.

At the turn I didn’t bother with a cafe stop – I ate a couple of bars and headed north aided by the now stronger tailwind.  A change of gloves ave me another 20 miles of dry hands before the waterproofing failed and it was back to icy fingers.  By now the snow on the way down had properly stuck.  The fields were pure white, vision was difficult through a storm of snow, and the road was reduced to slushy tyre-tracks.  Worrying stuff.  But again, after a few miles it disappeared and it was just back to the rain.

I stopped at a service station shop in Middlewich and was that cold I couldn’t really move my fingers sufficiently enough to unzip my phone holder and get my money out.  Luckily, all the drivers queuing to pay for petrol were really cycle-friendly and understanding…

My fingers seem to have recovered several hours later, and I did notice that I still have the requisite number of toes, so that’s good.

Ride stats : 124 miles in 7hrs 23m at 16.8mph average.  2,612ft ascent, average HR 132bpm and 4,982kcals energy used

Strava ride here