Monday, 9 March 2009

Taking Flight

Saturday was the 205km Cheltenham Flyer Audax, starting and finishing in Bishops Cleeve near Cheltenham, 'neath the looming brute that is Cleeve Hill.

Thankfully, the route avoided the hill itself, though it did finish at the bottom of Bushcombe Lane, in sight of what is, and probably will remain, a definite 'walker'. I had to walk in last years Tour of the Cotswolds, and having seen it again on Saturday, I don't think that will be changing anytime soon.

The ride itself started in unexpectedly excellent weather, unlike the Stratford RC Reliability Ride the day after (and am I ever glad I chose NOT to do that!), and with a strengthening wind behind us later in the day, I was hoping for a reasonable time. A reasonable time, compared to the Newport Audax 2 weeks ago would have been about 10 hours 15, given the extra few km and the additional climbing. A fairly rapid start to the first control at 25km did nothing to dispel this hope, though reality struck some 50 yards later. Turning onto the B4077 we climbed the Cotswold escarpment for a height gain of 148m over the next 3.5km. Only an average of 4.2%, but over 8% for stretches and enough to both warm me up and slow me down.

The tourist traps of Bourton on the Water and Bibury followed, with the sunshine serving to show why they are so popular. Cirencester was reached in a decent time, and bacon sandwich administered to ward off the dreaded energy bonk. Lunch was taken at 99km, and the section that followed was, for me, the most difficult, into the wind with long sections of sapping climb. The descent, when it came, was winding and so brakes were the order of the day, thus negating much of the downhill benefit.

Thankfully, the services of the Badminton WI had been secured for the third full control, and I can confirm that nothing revives weary cyclist better than WI cake. Setting off for the final section, the wind was behind, but time was already later than intended. Somewhere on this section, I noted than my light had slipped round the bars, so tried to adjust it succeeding only in breaking it off the mount. 45km to go and no light, except whatever daylight was left.

Making the jump to warp speed, I managed to tag onto the back of a couple of faster riders until 15km from the end when, inevitably, 'my legs fell off'. Stopping for a gel, I let the others disappear, and restarted after a couple of minutes break. This coincided with the final climb of the day, so it took a while to get going again, but the legs came back at the top of the Cirencester Road. A good launch at the top of the hill and I managed to pass my two erstwhile pacemakers on the way down. Sometimes being so tired you can't be bothered to hit the brakes can be an advantage.

The final few km passed quickly though not effortlessly, and I managed to sneak into the finish at 5:59 for my second successive sub-10 hour 200.

Obligatory stats:
Distance: 205.8km/127.9 miles
Total climb: 1700m (ish)
Total Time: 9:59 Moving time: 8:54
Average speed: 23.1kmh/14.35mph
Top speed: 74.7kmh/46.4mph

The pressure is now off for this month, and I can train relaxed for the Cheshire Cat on the first day of Summertime.

5/12 RTTY and counting.....................

1 comment:

the E.Port Sloth said...

Specialised Sit Bone Measurer.
Not an American device by any chance? That might explain the 'medium' result.