So today I did the Kilo-to-Go Cheshire Cat sportive. What with the clocks going forward, and it being in Crewe, it meant a very early start. I arrived in Crewe at about 7-30am (6-30am in reality!) and surprisingly got a space in the car park adjacent to the Alexandra stadium on Gresty Road. A quick cup of coffee and then a very, very long queue saw us start at 8-30am. Well actually the start was 9-10am because of the length of the queue. I’d met up with the rest of the North Cheshire Clarion and we set off as a group. After about 5 miles David Mitchell decided it was a bit slow and broke away, so I went with him.. The weather had changed from spots of rain early on to pretty nice sunshine so after about another 10 miles we stopped to shed some layers, at which point the Clarion went past, with some choice remarks I might add. Still, at the bottom of Mow Cop we caught them up and overtook. Last time I attempted Mow Cop I had to stop. I was determined to do better this time but wondered if I could as I reached the point I stopped last time with my heart beating out of my chest and my legs screaming in agony. I decided to zigzag a while to try to lower my heart rate – it was in the 180’s against a theoretical max of 181. That helped and when I got to the foot of the really steep bit by the pub the road was lined with people cheering and encouraging so I really went for it. My heart rate peaked at 193, my legs were in agony but I made it up (and got a medal to boot -see below, modelled by my daughter Emma)
At that point I thought the worst was over. Oh dear. It was followed by three further hills which whilst not as bad were pretty difficult. The small ring on my front cog has never seen so much use! All in all there was over 4000ft of climbing, the majority of which was in those 4 hills. The final hill was a real struggle, and the only one I had to stop on. At which point somebody went past me one-handed conducting a conversation on his mobile phone, and didn’t even sound out of breath! There’s a name for people like that.
To make matters worse there was a very strong westerly wind blowing and as we turned west near Macclesfield I realised the flat bits weren’t exactly going to be a picnic either. Over 40 miles into a brutal headwind was incredibly difficult. To give some comparative information, into the wind I was working really hard at 160bpm to maintain a speed of between 13 and 14 mph. Coming back the same tailwind meant I could do 18-20mph with a heart rate of only 145bpm.
Just a note on some of the fantastic bikes out there. I saw a couple (as they went past me!) that cost at least £5,000, and many more in the £1,000-£2,000 range. Envy is a terrible thing!
At Malpas we turned back towards Crewe and it felt a whole lot easier. I’d gone ahead of the Clarion early on with Dave Mitchell but got left behind by him at Mow Cop. I caught up with him at the 75 mile feed station and so we set off together back towards the finish.
The last 10 miles I struggled to stay with him but we finally crossed the line at the same time. According to the Garmin our total time was 7 hrs 37 mins, with a moving time of 6 hrs 44 mins. Average speed was bang on 15mph – not bad given the course and the conditions.
At the finish we met up with Andy who had beaten us by about half an hour and waited for the rest of the Clarion.
Absolutely knackered. The Manchester 100 expended 5900kcals. This one expended nearly 6400kcals. I’ve got the medal for Mow Cop now – I don’t intend to ever ride up it again!
If anything this brought home to me the enormity of the task to get from Land’s End to John o’Groats. There are some serious climbs in Cornwall, the Lake District and Scotland. I know I can do it, but I also know how hard it will be. Wish me luck…