Cheshire Mini Sportive – Sunday 17th February 2013 - Race Report
To be clear from the beginning, this was more a ride than a race. With the “gold” standard set at sub 2hrs 25min, the course was pretty challenging with about 1500ft of climbing. The weather was almost perfect but the big issue was the road surface! The potholes were plentiful and massive! On several occasions I could see the bottom edge of the brick work supporting manhole covers. I must have grown soft, living in North Wales, where anything larger than a dinner plate (and/or deeper than 6 inches) is considered to require “same-day” repair.
The only other factor which slowed one’s progress was the number of road crossings. I haven’t counted them but my Garmin data shows I was at a stop for over 4 mins of the ride. The traffic, for the majority of the ride, was heavy and impatient!! I have never been “beeped at” so many times in such a short period of time.
Having said that, I did enjoy the ride, but not in a way I would have expected.
The race HQ was set out pretty well and as the riders crossed the timing line, the roads seemed pretty clear. Temps were around 1C and there was some ice on the road, but nothing more than I’m used to so just made sense to be careful until we were on to the bigger roads. As the route left the village the road opened up, and so did I. I had hoped to do some aero practice, and even do the ride as a tempo race effort but, given the conditions, as outlined above, this would have proved too much of a risk. The route was pretty undulating for the first few miles then it was up over Alderley Edge. Speed came down from a handy 20mph+ to just under 14 mph with my HR breaking into zone 4 for the first time. Limited my HR to avoid zone 5 as I find any venture into Z5 can mean I burn out too quickly. Due to my heart condition, it seems impossible to recover from super-high intensity efforts during a ride. Down off the top of Alderley Edge speed was much better but due to the road conditions it wasn’t possible to really “go for it”. There were several riders who were caught in the potholes and had crashed out of the ride. Many more had punctures. Survival was the order of the day, so no all-out riding. As it was not going to be possible to use the ride as a proper tempo session, I decided to use it to go for some bigger gears than I would normally use. I even did some of the hills in the big ring, with cadence down to sub 50, just to see how my HR reacted. After the first 15 miles I began to notice a tinkling noise coming from my front wheel, then, a little later coming from my back wheel. As I pulled to a stop on one of the crossings I noticed that I had lost 1 spoke on either wheel. I was just over 10 miles from home, so I tucked the broken ends into the other spokes and kept going. There were a few shorter climbs in the last few miles but I managed to keep the speed up and never fell under 17 mph in the final 8 miles. Reaching down for a drink, with just 5 miles to go I noticed that the course had taken more than just some spokes – no bottle. I got my head down and put in a couple of 22 mph miles just to finish it off. The ice was still there as I approached the race HQ so I took it very easy in the last mile.
As I pulled in and my time was checked there was a new feeling. Normally, when I finish, there are loads of people and I am “processed” with the hoard. Almost all of my races have been running and not biking. This time there was almost no one. Just the time keepers, a few spectators and one or 2 other finishers. As I remembered to stop my clock I just rode away to where I’d parked my car and got in. I started to realize that the car park was full. None of the cars had moved, at all. I thought I must have done pretty well, when after picking up my bag and going back to the changing building, I had a quick wash and emerged to….to…. exactly the same thing…. Almost no one. Now, as the results have been posted, I realize why. I had come second out of 168 in the ride. My time of exactly 100 mins was a full 9 mins slower than the winner but at least gave me an average speed of 18 mph. The guy who beat me was the young lad I had seen in the changing rooms. I had thought, he looked very young at the time and, as it transpired, he was in the 20-29 age group. The average completion time was just over 2hrs 30min.
So there we are. I had hoped to ride faster than this. I was looking to brake an average speed of 20 mph (90mins) but it was less the climbing that slowed me down and more the heart felt desire to survive the road conditions!
Looking back at the data from my Garmin, in the context of my up and coming race in March, I have to be pleased that I got a nice 33 mins in Z4 and 53 mins in Z3. That’s got to be a good tempo effort for this stage of my race prep. BRING IT ON!!!