Saddle Saw

Jun. 20th, 2016 12:02 pm
[personal profile] f4f3
I was just prompted to say what actually happened about my Loch Ness cycle ride, and how it all went.

The short answer is very well - I finished, I finished inside the time I'd set myself, and I raised almost 4 times my sponsorship target.

The longer answer is still very well, and it's maybe worth saying a little about how the event met my expectations.

First of all, it turns out that a lot of people were taking it more seriously than I was - there were 4,000 entrants, and I'd say more than three quarters of them were club cyclists, or at least had a lot of experience of road racing. They were the people who were looking for a time of 2-3 hours, and they were a LOT faster than I was, espescially on the hills. Oh yes, the hills - more on them later.

Next, the weather was not what I was expecting - dry and sunny the whole way round, with not a drop of rain, far less the snow we'd seen the week before. This meant I was overdressed - I could have done with a layer or two less.

I also took too much food with me - the snack stops had more than enough. I should have taken more water, though. I went through my own bottle quickly, and the refills had a horrible amount of chlorine in them.

I set my own pace going round, I got off and pushed when the hills got too steep, and I stopped at all three of the provided rest spots. The upshot of all of that was that I took just around 5 and a half hours for the 66 miles, never felt I wasn't going to finish, and even felt remarkably fresh at the end.

There's a lot that I could have done differently, and maybe will if I do it again next year, but they all involve changing my goals for the day. As you might remember, those were to make my sponsorship target, to finish, and to get an official time, and I met or exceeded all of them.

It turns out that maybe I set my goals around the ride too low - I did treat it as a tour, and didn't push myself to any limits. I now know that I'm fit enough to jump on my bike and do the 66 miles without much training or taking it to seriously. But I could have cut an hour off my time without doing anything particularly hard. My time for the first 30 miles was just over an hour and a half. That's because that part of the route is mostly flat, and I kept an easy 18 mph pace up. The next five miles are all up hill, and those took me more than an hour, because I was pushing all the way. The last 30 miles took me just over two and a half hours, partly because they had more hills, and partly because I had three rest stops (one just before the big hill). I could easily have skipped the last stop, which was about 10 miles from the end.

The biggest mistake I made in terms of time was taking the wrong bike - the gears on my racing bike mean that you need to be strong to keep it going up hills, and I'm just not built that way - my manly legs are strong enough to push me to sprints or lift a lot of weight, but I'm not set up to sustain that effort for 5 miles or so. Partly that's fitness, and partly it's practice. So, knowing that, I'd take my touring bike next year. I'd probably lose an mph or two on the flat, but I'd more than make it back on the hills.

Still, we live and learn - as I say, getting the best time wasn't my goal.

I finished, I raised £360 for MacMillans, and I had a good time.

I call that a win. 
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