The Tour de Weald Cycling Sportive

A weird week this one and if I am honest a lazing one!

After a good week last week (see previous blog) I woke up Monday feeling very ‘washed out’. It might have been the early start for the open swim (5 am) on the Sunday or the sessions over the weekend, I don’t know. But after a quick email to Mark (my coach, we decided to have a rest day Monday even though Tuesday was a rest day too.

Monday was nice, left work on time (ish), had a nice pasta and chicken meal and an early night and woke up Tuesday feeling better. I had to attend a work event Tuesday night which resulted in a few beers, no food and a late night (11.30pm) all Monday’s good work reversed.

Wednesday I did a good run session including some effort intervals and it felt good. Thursday was due to be a short swim and short cycle as a brick session. I was looking forward to this, and was working out the logistics of swimming at the gym and getting to the stationary bikes upstairs as quick as possible, including a change of clothes etc. But I had a crappy day at work, got in late and my wife had cooked her dinner when I got in so there was a lovely smell of cooked food. I decided to sack it off and have another rest day. First time in ages I have missed a training session ‘for no reason’.

Friday was another rest day!

Saturday (yesterday) I had a lie in, chillaxed all day and bought myself a new cycling helmet as my previous one was damaged whilst in my bag on the flight back from Albuquerque. Late afternoon/early evening I did an easy 40 minute run and it felt good to actually get out there and do something.

And all the above led up to the Tour de Weald Cycling Sportive which I did today.

Alarm at 6 am, rushing around – Neovite, breakfast, dressed, sort bike out, load up the car, fluids, sort drinks, sort energy bars the list is endless. We drove to Burgess Hill, register etc and the wife and I were ready to go and we set off at circa 8.50. Me doing the tour at 65 miles (102K) and the wife doing the Kermese at 35 miles (62K).

We don’t ride together so I shot off, the quicker I go the less time she has to wait for me at the end. I had all my fluids on me and all my energy bars etc so although there are two feed stations I wasn’t planning on stopping. The second one you have to stop at to get swiped on your timing chip but that is all I was going to do there.

The start of the ride felt horrible, it was a lot hillier than I remember from last year and some of them were big monsters. Another rider was on my wheel for a bit of the first part and we rode together for a few K’s and chatted. He was going for a time of 4 hrs 30 mins which is what I rode it in last year (4hrs 34mins to be exact). So he asked if I wanted to ride together and share some drafting etc. I said yes!

But after about 5K I realised his pace was faster than I wanted to ride at and he soon disappeared into the distance. Strange I thought, if he is going for a 4.30 time and is riding so hard, I am going to be doing a 5 hour jobby at this rate!

There were more hills and the ride so far (60K or so) had been very up hill. There were down hills (of course) but on the narrow twisty and wet  roads I didn’t push it on the down hills, so there was no benefit having climbed for so long. These hills also effected my food and drink plan. The plan was a sports drink and energy bar every hour, as a bite and swig every 15 mins. I had four bottles and four energy bars, so I was going to grab something at the food stop if I was going for be over 4 hours. At the end of each hour I was on target, but I wasn’t eating and drinking every 15 mins as I had planned. I couldn’t eat whilst sucking in air climbing up a mountain and with wet, twisty, narrow, down hills I wanted both hands on the bars at all times. So the every 15 mins had to take a back seat.  

At 60K it started to flatten out and I got into a good rhythm and then at 66K I hit the mandatory food station. I got swiped, swapped my bottles around, grabbed a couple of cliff shot blocks (had a pee) and left (total stop time of 4 mins 13 secs).

I left just behind a couple of lady riders and could see them in the distance and aimed to catch them by the end of the ride. Another couple (guy and girl) left straight after me so there was a ‘group’ of five of us, but spread out.

I tried hard to catch the two ladies. They were chainganging, drafting each other and me riding alone meant it was a huge effort to catch them. I tried and tried but the gap wasn’t closing. Then luck was on my side. A short confusion on the route and all five of us stopped together to compare the maps. The guy who was ‘fifth’ knew the way so he flew past us and said follow me. That was easier said then done – I never saw him again.

But I was with the lady’s. I set off in front and they tucked in behind me. Couple of K’s and one of them can lead and give me a breather. But they never did. I led the two of them for 24K as they drafted behind me. I pulled away at some points and they chainganged back up to me. It was relatively flat and I was flying. Really putting some efforts in, getting on the drops and kicking the legs over. We passed a couple of others on the run in to HQ and at the end, with 5K to go they passed me as I slowed for a right turn due to traffic and they didn’t have to. Having sat there behind for so long I thought they had played me. Letting me lead for almost 30K and then passing me at the end. But I was having none of it. I put me head down and pushed again, I took them both and kept the pace as hard as I had been riding to catch them. I kept the pace hoping to break them and what do you know, when I looked back they were dropping off.

It was a good ride but it had been a huge effort so I thought I might opt for the 15 min run later in the day option, rather than the 15 min run off the bike I had been planning. But as I reached HQ and got my timing chip swiped, the wife grabbed my bike and handed me my trainers. She wasn’t aware of the effort I had just put in, but I followed her lead and put my trainers on, emptied my pockets and jogged off out of HQ. It was an excellent expression on the face of the lady’s as they were finishing and collapsing off their bikes as I nodded to them as I run past them in the opposite direction.

The run was surprisingly OK, well as OK as a run can be after a 102K ride that was half hilly and half hard! But it was OK. I ran for 10 mins, just because I didn’t know the area and ended up back at HQ earlier than I wanted to be but I thought that is enough.

Back at HQ I changed into some dry and less sweaty clothes. Had a tuna roll, another energy bar, a banana, the rest of my energy drink and 750ml of orange juice and water mixed together.

The timing chip data says 4 hrs 14 mins, which is 20 mins faster than last year and a run of the bike.

Not bad if I say so myself – it IS all coming together.

Thanks for reading.

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