When the start sheet for this ride arrived I looked at the course instructions and they looked pretty complicated, including 3 right turns off the A50 at Toft. Then, earlier this week, I was talking to another TT-er who casually pointed out this was an awful course. Having just about got used to 50 milers I know that at the end my saddle contact points are usually sore (a posh way of saying red raw clacker), and my neck and shoulders really hurt. On top of that I was riding self-supported – whereas everyone else seemed to have support to provide bottles and food at the feedstation. So I wasn’t especially looking forward to my first 100 mile TT it’s fair to say!
I usually turn up early at TT’s – it allows me time to get ready in a relaxed fashion – and also to get ready mentally. Anyway, today I was running late and as I was driving down the A50 at Toft I noticed workmen preparing to paint the roads – when I signed on I was told that the course had already been changed due to other roadworks elsewhere. The roads on the cheshire J courses also appear to have been “resurfaced” with that awful gravel they just tip out and leave to be flattened by passing traffic – an utterly rubbish surface.
I was running with a litre bottle of energy drink between my tri-bars and a half-litre bottle of caffeine energy drink on the seatpost. Foodwise I had cut 4 energy bars into bitesize chunks and stuffed them up the sleeves of my skinsuit, with 4 gels (1 caffeine) up the legs.
My target was 4hrs and 15 minutes which meant I needed 10 mile laps of around 25:30. As it was I got my pacing pretty much spot-on until around 60 miles when it started to unravel pretty badly!
The course started on the B5081 and then turned left at the crossroads into Byley Lane, then left onto the A50. At Toft there was the right turn down a short road, round a roundabout at the end and then back down the A50 until Twemlow Lane, where a left turn took us up to the A535, and then up to Chelford roundabout and back. Into Holmes Chapel and picking up the A50 again at the double roundabout that was basically one lap. The course was essentially 3 and a half of those, finishing off Twemlow Lane.
The first 50 miles went broadly to plan, with splits of 25:45, 24:58, 24:14, 25:17 and 26:21. At this point I’d been overtaken by a few very quick riders (and also re-overtaken at least one of them) but I’d made my way up the field overtaking a number of riders. It felt like a very lumpy course, with some rolling bumps that were somewhat challenging, especially later on. My neck and sholuders had started aching around 20 miles but that’s normal due to the position. Having applied significant amounts of chamois cream my clacker was sore but manageable. What I didn’t expect was my back to start hurting at around the 60 mile mark, and gradually get worse. In fact, I took every opportunity to sit up off the tri-bars to try to straighten it – especially up the climbs where standing on the pedals helped. The line painting team had a rolling traffic control system but luckily I was only caught once – it’s possible an unlucky rider could have been caught at least 6 times!
I managed to eat one and a half bars and all my gels during the ride, and my fluids lasted until near the end, despite me squirting a load of my half litre bottle fluids over my legs when trying to pour it into my tri-bars bottle.
I finished in a time of 4 hours, 20 minutes and 17 seconds – basically an average of 23.1mph. I was surprised to see 1,770 feet of ascent recorded and 4,028kcals of energy used. My average HR was about 161bpm. Aerobically I had a bit left at the end, but my back was so sore I wasn’t able to make use of it.
Afterwards another rider told me it was the worst 100 course in the country. Having no frame of reference I can only confirm it was very, very painful.