After a few weeks of icy/snowy/miserable weather I was going a bit stir crazy inside on the turbo. Whilst it’s a great tool for structured and focused training, it’s no substitute for being out and about on the bike. With a break in the bad weather forecast, the Mere 200 looked like it would be a good opportunity to get some road miles in – my total so far in 2015 being the lowest since I started recording. I was feeling a little trepidation as the last decent distance I’d done was at the start of November, with most everything else being about power and intensity I wasn’t sure if my legs would stand 128 miles.
I heard there was a record field, with entries closed at 120. That’s probably due to both the popularity of cycling and audaxing at the moment, but perhaps also that this is a PBP year. It was cold as we set off at 8am, but not unduly so, and the initial pace of the pack meant I warmed up quite nicely. In fact the group went off really quickly, considering the first 60+ miles were into the wind. For a while I sat in, taking it easy because the temperature was hovering around freezing and Cheshire roads are notorious for black ice. Riding up the side of Tatton Park I was glad of the pack as it made a long and exposed road a bit easier. A couple of times at the top of hills I found myself at or near the front, but soon got overtaken as I picked my way carefully along the lanes. However I did manoeuvre myself to the front at Acton bridge so that as we approached Delamere forest I could get in and out of the control quickly. I was glad I did as the queue quickly formed behind.
The section from Delamere to Malpas was essentially me and a small group riding hard into the headwind. People were dropping off as the road went upwards and by the time we went through Malpas I was on my own with a couple of riders (Alan and Charlotte) who were both very strong. The route takes a turn onto the A525 at a point 8 miles from Ellesmere. It’s always a windy section and so we took turns to pull on the front to the eventual control. This section has, in previous years, almost reduced Chris and I to tears with the strength of the wind but it didn’t feel that bad. After a fuel stop at the garage (pun intended) we set off back towards the Raven café, where I had beans on toast and a large mug of tea. Thankfully there were no signs of flooded lanes like in previous years so no wading was required!
Life was much easier on the way back with a bit of a tailwind, and progress was duly brisk. A couple of information controls were all that stood in the way and it wasn’t long before we were close to home. The temperature had increased from freezing in the morning to nearly 10 degrees, and for the most part the skies were clear. It did start to cloud over and close in, and we finished with the slightest of drizzle but before it was fully dark at just after 4pm. A lovely day all in all.
It was great to get out and about after being stuck inside and I was pleased that whilst my average HR was below zone 1, I managed an average speed pushing 18mph. I felt strong all day, especially into the wind. This is a new feeling and I like it!
Ride stats : 128 miles in 7hrs 9m at 17.9mph average. 4,964ft ascent, 4,507kcals energy used. Average HR 127bpm.