Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Avast Behind!

There is, it seems, a photographer out there with a sense of humour. Not being content with recording my plummet at warp 9 (40mph) towards Lamaload, he snapped the following "while my back was turned". Not exactly my best side.......

As for the rest of the Cheshire Cat ride, I shall just have to admit enjoying it on a masochistic sort of way.

An early start was achieved, getting off in the mist at 9:00 and a gentle pace ensued for all of 500 metres until Mike and Mark dropped the hammer, and Brett went after them. I clung onto the back of the splintered group at various lengths off the back until just before the first M6 crossing at which point (I thought) some semblance of sanity returned, with a slackened pace.

Imagine my delight at reaching the first feed in an average speed of 30kmh! Never before have I maintained such speed over such distance. If I have any sense at all (not likely) I never will again. Any groups available after the first feed were always travelling that tiny bit too fast, so most of the section was either solo or in ones and twos, not that that detracted from pushing on with brain going "good time!!!!!". Next time I will leave brain at home.

Arriving at feed 2, a scant 2 or 3 miles from Mow Cop, tiredness was encroaching on legs, and I noted somewhat belatedly that I did not need to refill a bidon, as I had only drunk 1/2 litre in the first 85km. Yes, I know its obvious now that I need to work on my nutrition strategy, but on Sunday I just got it all wrong. I still find it difficult to (reach for) drink without breaking rhythm, although some eating was done thanks to a top bar bag. On Sunday, the big problem was fluid.

Shortly before Mow Cop, there is a short climb before the canal, and the legs started to complain. Thankfully they got a small rest as the guy next to me snapped his chain, and I stopped to administer one of my spare quick-links. It got him home, and very pleased he was too.

Mow Cop was hellish. The bottom felt a lot steeper than it should, and the whole climb was a slow grind of pedals. I still harboured faint hopes of getting up at the bottom of the steep bit, but at about 100feet from the top cramp kicked in. Cramp in the legs I can deal with, you can always stand up and move around. Cramp in the ribcage is less fun. I have yet to find a different way to breathe. I got off as the fuzzy black bits started to move into the vision, and before I fell off. Defeated.

Then the hills really started. A succession of ups and downs through to Macclesfield Forest, and an absolute sod of a climb. Most hills by this point were a lovely walk, but at least the day itself was perfect, good visibility and wall-to-wall sunshine. I survived the chute downhill to Lamaload, although I stopped halfway worried about the state of the wheel rims after so much braking (hot but not red hot) and positively enjoyed Blaze Hill (especially being able to stop at the T junction).

By this point the High5 Extreme from Feed 3 was kicking in, and I was starting to feel better, speed actually increased a little. Until Swiss Hill. I couldn't get all the way up, but I did get past the photographers. Even pedalling and hauling on the wall with a free arm could not get me up it. Defeated again. In total I walked on 5 (five!) of the climbs. I wouldn't call the last few kilometers a "blast back to Knutsford" but I did go as fast as I could manage, and crossed the line in a tad over 8:24.

Disappointing compared to last year, and totally self-inflicted. Feeding/drinking strategy completely wrong, both on and off the bike. Weight on Monday 110.8kg (about 10kg more than last year) and the North Cornwall Tor is only 3 weeks away. The NCT has:
1) More climbing (1000m more)
2) Steeper climbs (at least 2 at 1-in-3)
3) Probably much worse, and windy weather.

I am in BIG trouble, as I doubt on Sundays performance I will make the time limit. I am now on an eating and exercise regime that will make Quakers look like party animals in an effort to shed at least 5kg before the NCT.

And on Saturday, I have another 200km Audax. Sane? I severely doubt it.


Simon Lewis said...

Well done. I share the same issue with poor nutrition and hydration. I just forget. Anywaym, the miles and hills are in the legs and you'll be better in Cornwall. Look after the knee.

the E.Port Sloth said...

Jeeves ... fetch the elephant gun!

Anonymous said...

Ah the Mow Cop never had the pleasure looks like a brute but cant be as bad as the Col du Tourmalet lol

All the best, Alec.