This was the first weekend of the year where I had events on both the Saturday and Sunday. There’ll be more like this as I train towards LEL and try to fit time trials in, but in the lead up to this one I was a bit concerned, especially after last weeks awful Chirk experience.
So Saturday found me at J2/9 doing my first 25 mile TT of the season. The weather was cold, but the sun was out and the wind a light breeze. Considering what we have had, it was as near to perfect as could be expected. I rode just about within myself, worrying that I needed to pace myself, with an average heart rate of 167bpm versus my threshold of 176bpm. Only in the last few miles did I push harder. I was pretty pleased, therefore, with my time of 1 hour 1 minute and 9 seconds, which knocked just under 1 minute and 30 seconds off my personal best. Once I learn to pace myself and push properly, I think there is more to come off that time.
Full Monty 200
After a very poor nights sleep (excess caffeine and uncomfortable compression tights!) I was up at 5-45am to drive to Sheffield to take part in the Full Monty audax. This is a full-fat 200k with 4AAA points – or 4000m of climbing if that makes more sense. I met Chris from Saddleworth Clarion there and with some trepidation we set off. Very quickly, and surprisingly, I realised that my legs felt fine. I’d even go as far as to say they felt good. Which was more than could be said for the roads getting out of Sheffield. If you think those in Cheshire have taken a winter battering, then these look like they’ve been deliberately ploughed. They were so bad that within the first 10 miles my bottle cage had snapped with the constant vibration. I suppose that’s irony given it was Paris Roubaix day.
We rode north through Stocksbridge, and then over Silkstone common up to Emley. I’d got on the front of the group that had led us out of Sheffield, and as we went up and down some rolling countryside I noticed that Chris was nowhere to be seen. I stopped to wait and he finally appeared, covered in dirt from a comedy clipless timber moment following a mechanical! The weather was very cold, but there wasn’t too much ice around which was good. At Emley we headed to Holmfirth for the first cafe stop at 32 miles, and a welcome bacon butty.
Then came the biggest climb of the day – Holme Moss. The signs at the bottom of the road warned of it being closed, but the cyclists whizzing down suggested different. The odd car braved it too. Up until this point I’d stuck in the big ring, continuing to try to push bigger gears and improve my leg strength, but I’m not completely stupid, so little ring it was. At the top there were a couple of drifts that blocked the road but we hiked over them in true cyclocross style!
The descent down the other side was freezing cold but car-free and great fun, and took us through Glossop, Hayfield and then up another big climb in Long Hill. I chased a Sheffrec rider up there but couldn’t quite catch him. At the top we dropped down into the Goyt Valley through some more snowdrifts on the descent. This time, with no cars and soft snow to fall into, we rode through them, which was so much fun.
Another comedy fall into the snow by Chris at some traffic lights (don’t ask) had us laughing so much that we could barely ride up the inevitable hill that followed and the next stop was Longnor, where for the first time in my life I had Staffordshire Oatcakes.
There were two more decent climbs to come – one a slow but long drag near Bradbourne and the last one a real relentless 5 mile hill near Curbar and Froggat, which I got to the top of before I realised I’d stayed in the big ring again – this time unintentionally. Mixed in there were a few fantastic long descents and before long we were at the finish.
This was a great route – lots of hills but nothing off the difficulty scale. I was very pleased that having done little climbing since January, I actually felt fine. Despite heavy legs at the end, this was reflected in my average HR being a comparatively low 129bpm. Definitely one for the diary again next year!
Ride stats : 123 miles in 8hrs 52m at 13.9mph average. 12,184ft of climbing. 6,454kcals used, average HR 129bpm