End of a Dream

Well, my plans to ride/race the Kent Cycling Assn 12 Hour Time Trial are over – the race has been cancelled due to lack of entries – not altogether a surprise in the current climate, but still quite disappointing

As you may see from my other posts, this was to have been my 50th anniversary of this race, but it’s not to be. Both my training and preparation had been going fairly well and I was reasonably confident of being able to finish at or better than my target distance – so that’s perhaps the main positive I can take from this.

There is another 12 hour TT the same day – in Wales! That could well have impacted on the numbers as not that many folk are prepared for races of this length. I thought hard about it, but, for me, Wales doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel; the course does have hills – not that much but a lot more than the Kent course (and more than my current training) and I couldn’t get my head around food/drink issues (I was planning on being self-supporting) owing to the geography.

I’d been wondering recently what was to be my target for 2022 – I’d enjoyed doing a 25 mile Time Trial recently and may do a few more – but they weren’t the sort of target I had in mind. 

First 25 Mile Time Trial for 50 years

As part of my preparation for my 12 hour time trial in September – and because I just couldn’t resist it (it was on a Saturday afternoon and an hour’s drive from home)  – I entered the East Anglia Veterans 25 mile Time trial on 7th August. (Veterans are those older than 40!).

Because I had no recent time for this distance, I was the first rider to start, so I signed in, pinned on my number (6 – don’t ask, I don’t know either), warmed up and went off to the start. Was then counted down by the timekeeper and off I went – a few hundred yards of decent single carriageway road, onto a roundabout and then joined the dual carriageway A428 heading west for about 6 miles. Then turned round at a roundabout and doubled back to the first roundabout – then repeated the circuit again.

The road was fairly flat and I just went all out. I don’t normally ride on dual carriageways and it was slightly unnerving at times but I mostly held to the middle of my lane but weaving a little due to the cross winds – and the effort I was putting in. Most vehicles passed with a wide berth, but there’s always a few who think it’s clever to pass very closely. The flat course suited me well and I was amazed to see my speed was steadily around 22-23 mph – a bit higher at times and a bit slower towards the end. I had hoped I would do better than 1 hour 20 minutes, dreamt I might perhaps make 1 hour 15 minutes but was amazed when I saw that I clocked 1 hour 10 and 23 seconds – that’s over 21mph.

That’s on a par with my times 50 years ago (as far as I can remember) and when I apply my veteran’s age handicap of just under 9 minutes, it makes it my best ever 25mile TT – at over 70!

I normally keep a close eye on my heart rate (which is a better guide of effort than speed alone) but I found myself riding at my max heart rate of just under 160bpm – I knew I couldn’t sustain that for very long, and, sure enough, I couldn’t quite hold the pace to the very end.

I did get overtaken by about 4-5 riders – but I had expected to get overtaken by lots – bear in mind that the top riders would have been doing over 35mph – but they didn’t start until long after I did (due to be 150 or so riders).

Still slightly amazed – and absolutely delighted!

Noticed someone taking photos – will add if possible.

12 hour plans in doubt!

The Kent CA 12 hour time trial has been cancelled due to lack of entries. There is a Welsh 12 hour on the same day, but it’s a hillier course and more challenging in other ways… Still trying to work out if I can do it!

 

 

Setting Goals for 2021 – Declaration of Intent

A few years ago, almost by accident, I started to set my riding goals or main targets for the year ahead. It started with my first century ride (100 miles), then RideLondon (2017 and 2018), Tour de Yorkshire (2018), Tour of Cambridgeshire (2019 – an antidote to Yorkshire whose hills defeated me). 2020 was to have been the year of the 2 day 2 x 100 mile Tour de Broads Sportives (Spring and Summer).

Well, those events in 2020 didn’t happen due to the pandemic but instead I rode a 2 day 2 x 100 Km solo event on the same weekend as the Spring event was to have been held and I  rode a 2 day 2 x 100 mile solo event around the time the Summer was due. (In the spring,  the challenge of finding water  made me reluctant to head too far afield  – I can carry enough food, at a pinch, but not water – but this became easier in the summer as lockdown had eased).

But here we are in 2021. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Kent 12 Hour Time Trial I rode – that’s the only event from my earlier career whose results (213 miles, 6th place) I can still remember (I had been a bit disappointed not to have made 220 miles – a nice round figure).  While time trials are races against other riders, they are also, even primarily, races against the clock, with everyone aiming to improve on their previous time.

Each rider starts one minute after the other, and it’s strictly solo riding – no riding  behind someone else in their slipstream or even alongside. Time trials are normally 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles – but a 12 hour event is a blend of speed and endurance – ride as far as you can in 12 hours on a given course. I think the winner in 1971 rode around 260 miles – these days well over 300 miles is to be expected. I have no expectations of riding that far (or even as far as my earlier achievement) – after all, my bike and all equipment might be fairly new, but the legs are not!

It was the first (and only) event of that length I rode. I had wanted to do it again, but circumstances didn’t permit. So 50 years later I plan to make good on that, riding again for the club of which I was then a member  – Gemini Bicycle Club in Greenwich, South East London.

50 years ago my support team was invaluable – they got me to the start (and home), waited at points around the course, kept me supplied with food and water – and encouragement. I still remember the slight feelings of disappointment when the going was tough and I couldn’t see my team’s little white van and the lift it gave me when I saw it and my team. These days, most of my support has been virtual – and, yes, it has been effective but I’m hoping having actual people on the road will tip the balance between just finishing and finishing well.

Then and Now – 50 years apart. Click to enlarge

This event is due to take place on 5th September 2021 near Rye, East Sussex- here’s the link to the course detail – though, of course, nothing is certain at the moment. While I do plan to have an actual support team in place, I hope you’d think about virtually joining me – cheering me on, eating jelly babies and flapjack  (these might work for shorter rides but not proving good for long ones) and drinking lots of water (though mine will have an energy powder addition, you should perhaps add tea or coffee) – all from the comfort of your own home. You’ll be able to track my progress on the above link – and you’ll also receive an email link if you let me know in advance that you will be watching. (Comments on this website are currently not working – but training has a slightly higher priority than fixing them!)

This is not a sponsored event – but charities have taken a massive hit in donations during this pandemic and if you really want to encourage me, pledge and make a donation to a charity of your choice and let me know and I’ll use the sense of all the paper money as a sail when the wind is behind me!

Pedal Revolution Rallyé Events

A new take on sportives! Sportives are mass-participation events where riders gather together, start together, ride together etc – in both small and larger groups – and therefore not acceptable under coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Instead these Rallyé events mean riders choose their own routes and distances but book a time slot to arrive at the event village (for food stop and photographs and socially distant chatting). Only limited numbers are able to be in the village at any one time so there will still be the sense of riding in a big event – but without riders actually congregating at any one time.

There are 3 events planned:

26 July  – the event village for this one is about 12 miles from home so I plan to head into Suffolk first and aim to ride about 120 or so miles that day

UPDATE:

Saturday 15th August: This was to have been the Tour de Broads double weekend (2 x 100 miles) – and – for me – it still will be though I’ll be entirely on my own  today – I plan to ride to Walberswick and Southwold using a different route to the one I used for the July Rallyé event. Riding to the seaside is a new exploit for me (the swim not so likely) :

Sunday 16 August This is the proper Tour de Broads Rallyé – the event village is in now in Filby ( a village near Great Yarmouth); I had been hoping to ride to Great Yarmouth and include some of the Broads as well, but in view of the hot weather being forecast – and therefore the crowds expected at the seaside, the event village has moved inland and I’ll be exploring some smaller roads to avoid the coast road:

Oops – got that wrong! Sportives are almost invariably on Sundays and I assumed that the Sunday was the big TdeB day – nope, that was the Saturday when I was doing my own thing. Went to the event village on the Sunday and was puzzled to find no activity. Eventually went my own way and realised my date mistake when I got home.

Happy that I did manage 2 x 100 mile rides over the weekend though. Deliberately kept the pace down but was surprised to find a very similar average moving speed on both days (15mph is a fairly good speed for me over 100 miles) and it was only after about 80 miles on the second day when I also lost the tailwind I had been enjoying that the tiredness kicked in.

Sunday 6 September – the event village is in Norwich – again about 12 miles away away so I plan to do my own round Norfolk ride first before heading to Norwich and then home:

Well, the day was largely cloudy, but fine and I enjoyed meandering around Norfolk – some pleasant lanes, an unexpected but dry bridleway (which avoided a busy road). Kept the heart rate and therefore speed down and this worked well. Got a bit lost in the Northern Distributor road series of cycle paths (couldn’t understand what my bike computer wanted me to do), then got lost again in the Broadland Business park until I came to roads I recognised.

At around 90 miles I was steeling myself for a short, sharp and busy hill when I got overtaken by a young lady on a sit-up bike who just sailed past me, closely followed by another young lady on a regular road bike. I caught up with them on the flat and, yes, the first was on an electric bike. I had another 30 miles or more to go so the motor was an interesting idea!

I had wanted to do more than the 120+ miles, but I’d already been out more than 8 hours so kept to plan and didn’t extend the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedal Revolution Rallyé – Old Buckenham – 126 Miles 26th July

A brilliant day – and this type of sportive suits me quite well. I chose my route to go down to the seaside (Southwold), then over a footbridge to Walberswick to the Black Dog Deli (well worth it). Saw some other Rallye riders on the way – they must have thought I was going the wrong way!

Then headed back towards the Event Village where I met some friends. Everyone here suitably keeping a safe distance. Wanted to make this a 200Km ride so rode on rather than take the quicker route home.

Friday-Saturday, 15-16 May 2020

This weekend was to have been a two day, 2×100 mile sportive, Tour de Broads Spring Double, one of my big challenges for the year – it’s nearly 50 years since I last rode two big rides back to back, though what sticks in my mind the most is the 12hour time trial I rode then (213 miles = 6th place).

In this time of lockdown the event is, of course, cancelled, but, for me, the challenge of multi day riding remains – I simply have no idea how my legs and I will respond to a second day’s riding and I want to find out – so I’m now riding a solo, private Tour de South Norfolk on 15-16th May. There is also the challenge of finding food and more especially water, so I’m only aiming for 2 x 100 KM rides, over local routes I know well and with short cuts and shops mapped if need be.

There was to have been a second event in August – Tour de Broads Summer Double – by then I should know how my legs will cope and, hopefully, I can plan food stops a bit better – so the target is the 2 x 100 miles for then.

 

Update:

Well, that went quite well. Legs on Day 2 seemed fine though the choice of some small, gravelly lanes from Winfarthing to Hapton was unwise – would have been better to stick to the Turnpike (but that can feel boring as I use it often). That, and the hills towards the end (deliberate choice) seemed to knock the average speed down (15.0 vs 15.6 on Day 1).

Yes, will aim to ramp up to 2×100 miles by August!

 

Audax Ride – The Horsepower 100km, Saturday 14th March 2020

An enjoyable ride – 100km is a distance I now like, though it’s not really a challenge. Starting from Great Dunmow, a charming town, I caught up with James (he’d paused for something) and then rode with him to Newmarket where he bought me lunch – but I was riding a little out of my league and paid the price when the long hill coming out of Newmarket was a bit too much for me and I dropped behind (he is somewhat younger than I). I carried on on my own and met up with him again at the finish.

But it was a memorable ride – it was the last event I rode before Coronavirus restrictions kicked in and put an end to all events and even riding along together. So all the chats and social interaction are now a treasure to look back on (and forward to..).

On the day, handwashing was the dominant theme, the pub where we stopped for lunch was packed and the 2m social distancing, queues to get into supermarkets (and shops still allowed to trade) as yet unknown.

Plans for two day (2 x 100 mile) events (and, indeed, all other events) now shelved but I try to get out for 2-3 hours riding every other day or so to try to maintain physical and mental fitness, staying local mostly on known roads.

 

 

 

 

 

Tour de Broads Spring – Double – 16-17 May 2020

First big challenge of the year (not the first event though- see other posts)! This is a two day event, 100 miles each day – I’ve no idea if I can do it, but I’m going to try – it’s been a dream (hopefully not a nightmare) for some time. It’s around 50 years since I’ve ridden multi day events and even then they were fairly leisurely touring events, laden with luggage and not aiming at 100 miles a day – I can’t remember ever racing two days in a row. Not that sportives are races – but they are challenges to complete in a reasonable time (7 – 71/2  hours is now about right for me).

Tour de Broads is organised by my favourite sportive organiser – Pedal Revolution in Norwich – I ride their events whenever I can and am particularly pleased when I come across young children riding with their parents on shorter, carefully chosen routes. They also organise ParkRide events each week in Norwich, especially for those just learning to ride or coming back to a bike later in life.

This starts in Great Yarmouth and approaches the Broads from the South – route has not yet been published but I will update when it is. I normally plan emergency cut-outs so I’d shorten the route if things aren’t going well  but the Broads (plenty of water, not that many roads!)  might make that a little challenging and may simply mean I have to ride it all!

Southwold Roubaix 2020 – 11 April 2020

This is an interesting sportive – it can include several off-road elements that mimic the Paris-Roubaix professional race which will take place the next day – with cobbled roads, often poor weather – very challenging,  exhausted mud-caked riders, numerous accidents and broken bikes! I rode this sportive last year with one off road section (sandy, deeply rutted lane – not really my scene) but this year am opting to stay on tarmac. We did have some poor weather with a little rain, wind, hail/snow  – no way to avoid those! – some sun but still cold.

The roads are quite good, quiet but I well remember seeing what looked like a very tall cyclist way ahead of me coming into Framlingham – he was riding a Penny Farthing with considerable grace. I managed to take a wrong turning last year, so will try to get it right this year.

Suffolk Spring Classic Sportive, Sunday 22nd March 2020

This will be the fifth year I’ve ridden this event. It starts in Newmarket and meanders around the Suffolk countryside, along some quiet roads, through some delightful villages – but it’s quite a tough start to the year. There are no major hills, but lots of small hills which take their toll on my legs by the end. One year it was 100 miles (and I was really quite glad to finish that one), but normally the distances have been 75-85 miles.

Very near to the finish, just when I could be thinking it’s nearly over, there is a nasty little hill that looks a bit like a vertical wall – it’s partly the effect of coming downhill towards it and then suddenly having to climb it with very little left in the tank!

(Writing this is a reminder to me!)

From the 2019 event – started with arm and leg warmers, but removed as such a nice day!