Thursday, 26 February 2009

Great Expectations

A good name for a novel, but not something I have since I rarely have faith in my own ability.

Thus it was on Sunday for the Newport Audax. 201km of purgatory was expected, having done a massive 16 miles in the month since the Mere 200. Obviously, I claim the arrival of snow, ice etc as the reason for this, not sloth and laziness on my part.

Arriving in Wilmslow to pick Mike up, I was greeted by the unexpected sight of his brand new Hinde custom built "it fits Mike" bike. Some feeble excuse about broken cables on his old one followed. This new machine was soon christened in my mind the "BE-Hinde" since this was where I spent most of the day.

Untypically, we set off with the main group as soon as released by the organiser, and equally untypically I stayed with said group for the first 25km, achieved in just under an hour. Way too fast for me as an all day pace. Shortly before Holmes Chapel, I exploded uphill, the Hinde receded into the distance, and I started my solitary day out. Now, I don't mind this too much, I will probably cycle over 1000km of LEL on my own, so I'd better get used to it.

Good pace was maintained on the way to Newport, save for the drop down to the level crossing near Oakhanger. This lane is, quite simply, a mix of mud, gravel, water and diesel barely covering the shortlist for the upcoming programme on Cheshire's top 20 potholes. For those in the area, its at OS grid ref 762540. Avoid it.

Newport at 93km was reached in 3:49 and after a brief faff, I headed for Audlem at 128km and a stop at the Priest House Cafe for lunch. You'd have thought that by now, I'd have learned that 128km is too far for me without some semblance of proper food. Not so. Bars and gels only cut it for so far, and on Sunday, that was 105km. The 33km from Newport to Audlem took 2 hours, and I collapsed through the door of the cafe, much to the amusement of a group from Manchester Velo.

Life saving coffee (3 sugars x 5 cups), toast & Marmalade, and an all day breakfast were administered nurse-like by the staff. The cyclist was revived. 55 minutes later, I was back on my way as if nothing had happened. For the remainder of the ride, I managed to ignore the worst of the wind (meteorological not digestional) and keep going relatively well.

It seems that solitary riding can have its advantages. Normally, I try to push on uphill, dropping through the gears to maintain cadence, and keep up with the others I start with as they slow down to wait for me. With Mike long gone (and finishing at 16:02 for a time of 8:02 including stops he was LONG gone) I reverted to type up most hills, staying in a high gear and grinding up, albeit then being 'within myself' at the top and able to push on. By Middlewich the GPS was predicting a ridiculous finish time, so I made a quick stop and pushed on trying to achieve it.

The Drill Hall at Cheadle saw me arrive at 17:55. 9:55 overall time, including stops. My first ever sub-10 hour 200km Audax and a personal best by over 50 minutes. Chuffed.

Distance 201km/125 miles
Total Time 9:55, ride time 8:50
Average speed 22.7kmh/14.1mph
Top speed 52.7kmh/32.8mph
HRM not used
Calories unknown, but probably about 8,000

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