I definitely got the pre-event nutrition wrong for this one - not enough carbs the day before made me pay the price in the end...but the rest of it went really well!
A good nights sleep and a big bowl or porridge and a banana saw me right for the start though, and as the event only started 5 miles away, a group of us met and spun very gently down there - which was very nice to ease legs in to it! On arrival we registered, had a coffee and then waited for the off!
The weather was perfect for fast cycling, overcast and drizzly but warm at about 18-19 degrees and almost no wind - roads were slippery in places but not much you can do about that!
Though this was a sportive I was treating it as a TT, to see what pace I could sustain for 79 miles to get an idea for the Ironman - I kept to my no drafting rule as that would not have helped at all!
I started in the middle of a group of 30, but had overtaken and lost them halfway up the first hill past the Red Shoot...or so I thought, I hadn't realised some character was using me to pull him up the hill! (see the photo)
I didn't realise he was there until near the top, anyway my brief glimpse made me think he was an old timer so I thought I'd lose him soon enough...err nope he was a shadow for the first ten miles while I was secretly cursing him! Over the first two hills and down a long descent on very wet roads (as you can see below) and I had caught up the ground on the group that had started ten minutes before me and by the time I hit ten miles I had clocked a split of 28.49 (my pb is 28.07) and my HR was about 156 so I decided I needed to ease up slightly and my legs settle in to the ride!
My shadow then pulled up alongside me and apologised for drafting all the time but he was doing the short route and wanted a good start - fair enough I said and off he went at 12.5 miles! I was feeling pretty good at this point and passing plenty of riders, there were people trying to draft me but they weren't able to hold on for more than a few hundred metres at a time - I don't know why it was annoying me because it makes no difference to me - but it did!
After 20 miles I eased up slightly just before nearly losing it on a sharp right hander on a hill, then it was a long and muddy downhill where I was able to refresh slightly having clocked 20 miles in under an hour - 21mph ave! I was chuffed!
At the first feed station I upped my aero bottle with a nuun and had a flapjack and set-off again - lots of flats meant I could settle in to a nice rhythm and tick off the miles - the riders were getting spaced out now but I was still passing plenty - although my cheery wave and greeting was more often than not ignored! It would seem that people aren't keen on being overtaken by someone working on their own! (idiots)!
At about 45 miles there were series of rolling hills - nothing big but they tool their toll on the legs and I was suffering a bit - after this I hit some lovely roads in the middle of nowhere and was on my own for about 30 min's so I sat up had a good drink of ZipVit (I love this stuff) and a bite of a Mule Bar before settling down to it around the beaulieu area! My back was a bit tight but it was more tight hamstrings than bike problems so a bit of standing up and stretching on the bike helped!
I caught and passed three riders from the Hamworthy Velo Club (HVC) who really didn't appreciate my cheery greeting! A couple of miles later and I pulled in to the second feed station to top up my bottles and one of the HVC riders stopped as well - we both left at the same time so I offered my draft to help him catch his mates...I rode pretty hard to catch them up, when we did he just rode past and started chatting to them the cheeky git! I did draft here for about 200m to catch my breath and then set-off again as they were too slow...I did get a cheers as I left them but general manners never hurt!!!The last 20 miles were getting tougher and at mile 65 I had run out of gas having averaged 19.9mph up to there, up the long drag back to the forest road from bramshaw I dropped down to the little ring and spun it out - trying to think of excuses to go straight home! I didn't however and once I got on to the flat I was able to sit at a relatively comfortable 22mph for 5 or so miles...this led up to the 25% Blissford Hill - I was dreading this and cruised slowly down to the bottom of it - a few wheel spins before I got up it...but I did and it wasn't too bad - the round of applause at the top was also very nice too! From there it was a mile downhill and two miles of flat so I put my head down, dodged the horses and came in to the finish in 4.07 hours for the 79.19 miles with an average of 19.5 mph!! This is me going up the 25%...I was shattered but pleased with the time - proper eating the day before may have seen me hit 20mph but thats ifs and buts! No complaints - I have never pushed that hard for that long on that bike before so it was a step in to the unknown - I am now very scared for Ironman as I'd still have to ride another 32 miles and run a marathon...not to mention the swim! Lots of work now required..!!
ooh and I am famous!