Welsh 100 mile champs
At the end of 2015 I proclaimed I would ride a 100 mile time trial. This was something that I’d previously said repeatedly to Andy Perkins, that I’d never do, and that if he ever heard me talking about it he was to put me straight.
Through the winter I had written the idea off. Poor health and a later start to 2016 had given me the perfect excuse to avoid doing one, and the notion quickly disappeared.
Fast forward to early August and I was looking for a new challenge. Whilst I have been in decent form, I’d ticked off almost all of my objectives and felt like I was going through the motions a bit, so what better thing to do to kick start some motivation than to just enter a 100? The idea was there, I applied my usual advice of JFDI and so it was on.
I rang the organiser of one of the fast 100 courses and was told that I wouldn’t get a ride due to not having a previous time, and so I decided on the Welsh Champs – one of the big 100’s and conveniently in Wales as well. With a month to get ready for it I told my biggest (and only) supporter my daughter Caitlin what I’d done and she laughed, proclaiming that I can’t even walk properly, let alone race for a 100 miles. This wasn’t the support I was hoping for. She then asked if I had ridden 100 miles before, and I confirmed that I had. Twice, In Mallorca and that I had stopped for lunch and coffee on both times – had I gone and done it this time?
A hundred is about pacing and fuelling, and so some number crunching and data analysis, based on my 25 and 50 power gave me a potential power that I thought I could sustain for the duration, which I estimated would be ‘around’ 3 hrs 40 min. This would put me on the UK all time fastest list, and would also break the 6 year course record. Over the next 4 weeks I included a 3-4 hour ride at ‘100’ pace, and learned that the power was sustainable, but was dependant on fuelling, but more importantly temperature and hydration, and I found on warm days my power could drop by as much as 20w in the last hour, so a plan needed to be hatched to get enough fuel on board.
I had an easy week leading up to it, and was really looking forward to tackling the race. I drove up on Saturday afternoon with Caitlin, to recce the course. In a nutshell 80 miles of wide undulating DC and 20 miles of ‘Teign Valley’ type roads. An honest course with little traffic, meaning it had to be worked at, over the 3 x 33 mile laps.
On the day we arrived at HQ at 0600, and met a friend of mine Simon DeBurgh, who is a sports nutritionist, who was there to help. We had damp conditions, but this was good as heat was not going to be an issue, and 1 litre of fluid would suffice. It was pretty windy, but in an event this long it was merely a question of pacing, and it wasn’t so windy that it would be a major issue.
I set off 3rd from last and covered the first 5 miles way above power target but way down on pace due to the terrain and wind. Onto the course proper and the wind was more favourable and I went through 25 miles in 55.10 so just 10 sec shy of target, and then began to manage my effort as the conditions dictated, but ensuring that every 5 miles was checked off under 11 minutes.
I passed 50 miles in a long 1.46, so ahead of schedule, and had no issues. On the last lap the wind had began to blow hard, but was in my favour. Knowing that the last 15 miles would be headwind I decided to conserve effort and maintain speed rather than try to build it. Sure enough the return was hard, and my glutes and hips were absolutely screaming, and every attempt to shift position and find respite just identified a new pain. I pressed on knowing the CR was going to fall, and that the last couple of miles ‘should’ be quick. They were, and I crossed the line in 3.37.40 – avg speed 27.7 mph good enough for a place on the UK fastest list.
I got back to the HQ (slowly) and had to be helped off my bike – I couldn’t walk to begin with, but normal function returned soon enough.
The ride was good enough to win the Welsh Championship, by 6 minutes and take 4 minutes off the course record as well as setting a new MDCC mark by 14 minutes.
That’s lovely. Isn’t it?