Mersey 24hour July 23rd 2011

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
281 miles
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.

Bike setup:
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).

Next time?

2011 Paris-Brest-Paris route

Aug 21st is Le Depart for the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris. It will be my 2nd go at this – in 2007 I finished just outside the allowed 90hours.

I found this site with more route details, and the lovely picture below of the route

The PBP 2011 route seen from the West

I don’t recall the route being difficult to follow, but this bit does look rather fiendish on the map:Mortagne-au-Perche

Breckland 12hr TT B12/3 – Aug 8th 2010

Basically a bash up and down the A11 east of Thetford. Feasible target was 200 miles, 16.7mph (based on my 24h in 2008; I think Andy Wilkinson has ridden 300/500ish respectively). Club Bronze standard is 215, so that was lurking as a possible (this sounds a lot easier than the 10 mile standard of 25min, but maybe I’m kidding myself!). I wasn’t planning to give everything, because the 1000k was still recent. Rode the Airborne (my audax bike) with borrowed Profile clip-ons and the rack taken off, and some lighter wheels chucked on; basically what I’ll probably use on the 24 (but I left the mudguards on, cos they’re quite tedious to remove/replace). Plan was to ride basically unsupported as a rehearsal for possible future 24 rides. Breckland CC have a central support vehicle which has basic food and water, and you can leave a bag of your own food there. I could have left my rucksack there had I known (or even ridden to the event!), but instead left this in Stan’s van.

It started drizzling before the 06:19 start, which wasn’t forecast and caught me out somewhat. Rode 40 miles at evens and realised I should slow down a little, but still got to the Eccles Road support area at 53miles well inside 200 schedule, and on leaving I realised I was on the 215 schedule still. I’d felt a little wobbly when I stopped, so I decided to ease up a bit and hope for 200. I’d been a little cold in the drizzle – I didn’t mind, but I was worried this would lead to ITB/knee trouble. Should really have started with knees/arms covered, it’s so quick to take warmers off.

First lap was OK, but i started to suffer on the next one. Stopped for a pee in the woods, and realised all was not well. Scoffed a load of food and had a good stretch, but didn’t really help much. End of lap 2 I guzzled loads of water and fuelled up OK, but when I started on the eastern circuit I really wasn’t well. I still had good power but I was craving sleep. The mind-numbing boredom of the A11 was not helping – the white lines seemed to be hypnotising me. Stopped at the west-bound garage, bought milkshake and tea. This all went down OK, but didn’t help. I set off very gently to see if I would gradually recover (Mick passed me as I was doing 11mph on the slip-road!). Eased into a reasonable pace – 17-18mph, sensible HR – but still had the dozies big time, and decided that the A11 was no place to nod off or wobble around. Stopped at the Eccles road support area, 113 miles or so.

Had a leisurely chat to the neutral support and the Reading folks. Took some piccies of DPCC riders coming and going. Then the police closed the A11 eastbound due to Will Dorsett being rear-ended by a driver (who didn’t stop); he was very quickly heli-vacced to Norwich A&E with suspected neck injuries. Race abandoned.

Stan was up on schedule for 250, so was a bit miffed. Pete and Mick missed out on rides for their BAR, not sure if they have other rides booked. So in a way I got off lightly. Howard was also on a flyer.

All in all a pretty rubbish day out, but good experience. I really hated the course – it was just bearable early on, but once the traffic count picked up it became boring and noisy. If I do another 12, I need a more interesting (if slower) course. My pacing seemed about right, based on HR mostly 140-155. I’m now certain I didn’t drink enough early on, which is odd because I’m pretty good on long rides usually. Probably two main factors; I don’t usually ride hard consistently for hours like that, without even a proper descent. Then there’s riding on aero-bars – it’s a tangible extra effort to sit up and take a drink. Lesson learned?

Latest news on Dorsett is that he should make a full recovery, despite some neck fractures and general battering.

Losing my record – Mersey 24h July 2010

While I was romping round Wales, clubmate Pete cheekily stole back the club 24h record. In 2008 I “smashed” his 20yold mark of 307 with 321 miles. Pete had a go in 2009 and retired sick early on, but clearly had got the taste of it again. For 2010 he did some serious preparation, and looking at our times over shorter distances I reckoned he had a 50:50 chance at the record. Here’s his message sent in the aftermath:

As for the 24: It rained on and off until the evening with a southerly wind (less severe than the head-on gale that we had in the 100 the week before.) Got going well at Prees and averaged well over 16 mph up to the first stop at 85 m. Slowed down once it got dark and went throgh 12 hours with 176m. The wind dropped and it got misty. Then it cleared around dawn and got cold. By the time the sun had warmed us up again there were quite a lot of strugglers and the wind got up from the north in time for the run back to Farndon over those hills. Painful run back to the finishing circuit but I was overtaking quite a few lost souls. I thought the record was out of reach and settled for the Vet’s record plus PB but as I turned onto the circuit and out of the wind I did a quick mental calculation and took the hand-brake off. One hour and fifteen minutes of eyeballs out time-trialling without quite knowing where the finish line was. As it turned out I made it past TK2 with a couple of minutes to run (that was 321.82) and blasted on up the hill to TK3 to expire. Final distance of 322.84. Helped off the bike by TK3, Christine Minto (nee Moody) (We are not worthy etc).

Time on the bike; 22 hours 5 mins (14.6 mph) no sleeping on the job!

That’sdefinitely my last one. I didn’t leave any miles out there, smashed myself up, couldn’t grip the bars with my left hand for the last five hours, hallucinated, wobbled, got the obligatory upset stomach and got to meet a legend. It’s up to healthy people who can eat proper food if the club wants a decent distance for a record.

Good luck for next year, which one are you going to do?


Bugger! Looks like I’ll have to have another go in 2011. This works out quite well, as it will be a month before PBP and long after the qualifiers. And a hard nightride will be good prep for The French Ride.

(Hopefully one of DPCC’s genuinely fast riders will announce an attempt; I can then admit defeat and retire gracefully!)

Mille Cymru – job done

Held over the weekend of 23rd July, this was my one big goal for 2010. Over 600 hilly miles round (most of) Wales, with just enough time to grab a few hours sleep, and the little matter of 13,890m climbing.

I’d ridden 1000k+ Audaxes in 2007 and ‘9, but this one was always going to be tougher. I didn’t realistically expect to finish, but knew the scenery would make it enjoyable, however much I managed to ride. On my side I had more training than ever behind me, a little less lard than previous years, and the experience from previous long rides. And a new, lighter mascot.

I might write a fuller report, but the final score was a finish just inside the 75h cut, with about 6 hours sleep on the way and no major injuries or other problems. A fantastic, well-organised ride; superb scenery and very satisfying to complete.

Thanks to Jamie for the piccie, more here

Official event site

The Rollercoaster Road that we all learned to love on Streetview

Mille Cymru finish
Arrivée! Last man home after 74.29H, still posing for the cameras (on a blind bend).

Is this thing working?

This blog comes to you courtesy of the cycling blog bandwagon. Everyone else plasters their ride reports over the web, so why should I miss out? I might also use it for rants, so the spelling and grammar may be erratic.

More likely is that I won’t use it again after today – anyone have a figure for how many blogs last longer than a week?