Based on 2008, I figured that if everything went perfectly, 350 miles should be possible. Pete’s record was 322, so I felt that would be ‘easy’ to pass. The big unknown was Ross; he’s been a little slower than me on Audaxes this year, but seemed pretty organised, and had a support team (of 1) – which was more than I had. So Pete’s record looked unlikely to survive the weekend, but I’d need to ride well with no problems to beat Ross. Ross was aiming for 300+ – I knew this was absurdly low, but avoided telling him as it didn’t seem very helpful.
On the day …
I went pretty well until at least 8pm. I was determined to drink enought this time, and used both my bottles well before Prees (the 56 mile point) and stopped for a top-up from a support car. So I learnt something from 2008. So far so good.
100 mile time was 06:01:57 (22min behind Ross), schedule was 90 miles at that stage. Hoped to slow down and keep that 10 miles in the bank for a few hours yet. First 36 miles (all South) were flippin fast, at least evens. Seeing my average drop after returning to Prees against the wind was reassuring in a funny way – the adrenaline makes it incredibly difficult to pace yourself. Despite the gradients being very gentle, the 5 miles back to Esplay, mostly uphill, felt like a mountain into the wind. Esplay-to-Prees is just as much up, but more broken up, so it seemed less of a trial.
Then it all went wrong again. I think that once the heat of the day had passed I stopped worrying about fluid intake and just let it slide. Headache came on around dusk, but I made it onto the night circuit before feeling definitively ill. An unpleasant lap of the Prees circuit followed, probably the longest 40 miles I’ve ever ridden. It got cold very quickly, this persuaded to get back to my drop-bag before attempting a catnap.
Reached Raven cafe about 1215 and threw up. Managed a coffee, stuck head on hands and tried to nap. Overheard some elderly voices describing a lady rider – who must have been Jasmine – packing due to a bee sting around her eye. Ow. Slightly surreal experience. Got going after maybe 40minutes and no sleep, hoping that like 2008 I could plod round at 13mph and my appetite would eventually return.
Made it to Tern Hill – now pre-dawnish – and turned into the (closed) garage to avoid falling asleep on the bike. In 5 years of long Audaxes I have never slept on a garage forecourt – there’s a first time for everything. The unopened newspapers were pretty comfy, but still no proper sleep. Cruised down the hill and stopped with nausea building, but nothing came up. An hour later, at the same spot, I recognised Ross heading south, but too late to exchange proper greetings. He was grinning and going OK but looked a bit wacked.
Around 0900-ish they’d started sending us back onto the QB circuit, but I stopped at Prees for water and spotted Ross drinking tea with his ‘team’. I was pretty keen to pack at this stage. Found out he was a good 20 miles up on me, and still felt pretty strong – so I was never going to catch him feeling as crap as I was. Game over. I decided to recover for a few hours then ride up to the finishing circuit and register a distance (as I had to get back to the HQ somehow). It was nice chatting to support crews and the odd rider based at Prees.
The worst thing about ‘packing’ is the constant stream of “chivvyers” (thanks to ChrisN for that term). I wish I’d just told these people I had something critical wrong – maybe a broken leg? I suspect they had me wrongly pegged – a lot of people give up on something then regret it later. On this occasion I spent about 10 hours considering my fate – I’m hardly likely to reverse a decision like that just because a few people try telling me what a quitter I am! I can see why a lot of athletes just go hide in their motorhome in this situation.
So anyway … I pootled back and finished at the last TK before the HQ. Trundled back, ate chips, clapped the trophy winners. Pootle/trundle back to Chester, and a crazy daisy-chain of trains back home. Le Fin.
Oh, and Ross smashed the club record with 348 miles.
A nice film made by the Rapha boys:Fillum
Pete asked me for my ‘moving’ figures, so I’ve checked my computer
17h27m ! (this actually sounds about right)
In theory this should contain my little poodle to Chester station, but that won’t make very much difference.
From Ross’ GPS:
348miles (I had the GPS reading to the nearest mile so I’m not surprised their sums were half a mile less)
Once again I have failed to work out exactly how much food/water I need. So I did some research.
Wilko on feeding:
Every hour he takes about 70g of carbs; half in liquid form, half in Go/Torq bars (usually half a bar every hour). Assuming 4.2kcal/g, that’s 294kcal/hour. 7000cal/day. Compare with RAAM study Energy analysis on RAAM (PDF)
9,600 per 20hour day. They used about the same carbs, so the extra was all fat/protein. Estimated expenditure was 18000/day.
750ml water per hour, or 2×500 if needed.
I was fairly comfy on the tri-bars, but worse than 2008 – which was disappointing! I didn’t do the same mileage on the 24H setup this time. I hoped that miles done on my low-pro bike would be enough – they helped, but the 24H setup had much wider arm-rests. So my shoulders etc weren’t adapted properly. I could still have manage the majority of 24h on the arm-rests, but Could-Do-Better.
A few days after the race I tried moving the arm-rests inwards from the mid-setting to the narrowest – much better! I’ve only ridden a few miles like this, but I reckon it’s the way to go. It was odd riding the low-pro 11 days after the race; just 3 weeks off this bike and I just could not get comfortable (not helped by the hideous Stadhampton course surface). So adaptation is much more position specific than I’d realised.
On the plus side, few problems south of my shoulders (back, hips, butt, knees).