Technically today is the first day of British Summertime. After a poor nights sleep, and an early clocks-go-forward-too start, I sat in my car prior to the Chirk 200 audax looking at the temperature gauge reading -4˚C, and I remembered last year when we were riding this same audax in 20˚C. Shorts were replaced with bib tights, and short sleeved jersey replaced with two baselayers, long sleeve jersey, gilet and winter jacket! Overshoes, and two pairs of gloves, and my feet and fingers were still cold! Still, better than last week when it should have been run – with snow blizzards in Wales. I was on my winter bike, with 700×28 tyres running a low psi just in case there was ice on the road.
I started off with Steve from Saddleworth Clarion behind me, and I pushed on hard because it was so cold. I was desperately trying to get my HR up and get warm and before I knew it I’d dropped Steve. The roads were perfectly clear of any ice and in the next couple of hours the sun came up and the temperature soared to a heady 5˚C! It was a nice
winter’s summer’s day!
With the ride being re-run the first control wasn’t open, so we had a choice between a cafe at 31 miles or shops in Malpas at 47 miles. I decided to wait until Malpas which proved to be a mistake, because normally I time my food stops to be around 30 miles. It’s something I’ve worked out over the years that works for me. I hadn’t realised that I was working hard against the wind too. So I stopped at Malpas, and then pushed on to Chirk. By the time I reached Chirk I hadn’t seen another rider, and I was first in the cafe. At that point my average speed was quite high – around 16.9mph. The fields and pavements were still full of snow, but thankfully the roads were clear.
Steve arrived a bit later and didn’t have anything cooked so was ready to go with me. He’d been riding with Mike from VC167. As we left Chirk, there’s a climb out – I think it’s called Pont y Blewd or something like that. Anyway, by the end of that I’d dropped them again. Two other riders caught me and then went past – and I was on my own again. At 80 miles I blew up pretty spectacularly. I started to feel sick, a sure sign I’d got my nutrition wrong. I also felt very tired, sleepy tired, which I wonder was due to the poor sleep I had the night before. The warnings signs are there for LEL though. I’m going to have to make sure I eat correctly but also try to get at least some sleep each night.
I limped into the Ice Cream Farm at 90 miles and got some food down me. Steve and Mike turned up and I left with them. The trouble with getting nutrition wrong is that by then it’s too late. Mike effectively towed me along until 120 miles when he stopped to change his route sheet. I carried on because I reckoned I wouldn’t get going again if I stopped! The last 9 miles were pretty awful. My legs were fine, my HR was fine but I felt sick and simply struggled to turn the pedals. At the end, my ride was a good deal slower than last years but I was glad it was over.
Not a pleasant experience and one I don’t wish to repeat anytime soon, so a few salutary lessons before LEL. That, of course, is what training is for!
Ride stats : 129 miles in 8hrs 4mins at 15.9mph average. 4457ft of climbing. Average HR 137bpm, 6283kcals energy used