A day of two halves; Part Two

PARENTAL AND GRANDPARENTAL GUIDANCE: READING OF THIS POST IS DISCOURAGED.






…okay so, the first half of the day wasn’t completely rosy. I missed out the nasty parts and saved it for this half of the story! So a quick backtrack…

Although I was steaming along and having a great time, people were dropping everywhere. There were crashes galore! One chap a little further ahead of me slid off his bike in slow motion and took two down with him. There was the constant call of “ambulance, keep left” and then there was a body on the side of the road, which really shook me up.

As we were cycling along through a fairly urban part of the course, before Richmond park we could see an ambulance up ahead, stopped and attending to an incident. As we got closer we could see them on the floor dealing with a patient, at which point a wave of worry hit me. I knew it wouldn’t be Chris, he should be nearly finished. But Ollie? And then we were going past and I could see it was a female. Relief. Followed by guilt. Followed by an hour or so of distress at passing so closely by such a nasty accident (it didn’t look good).  I would have thought that the officials could have held up a sheet to protect her from the thousands of passing eyes.

So, when I started the descent from Newlands Corner I was still shaken and taking it fairly carefully, but beginning to enjoy myself again, and then another ambulance squeezed past and all of a sudden everyone stopped. We had stopped as a bunch before, but this one seemed like it might be more enduring.  And it was..90 minutes or so later we were finally released from our slow, start-stop clompy cleat walk up Leith Hill and allowed to get back on our bikes (on the steepest part of the course).

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However it had become clear through text messages that Ollie was actually behind me, and somewhere within a mile of me, so I stood to the edge and waiting for him to catch up. Unsurprisingly he was very fed up, his day hadn’t gone at all to plan; his wave had been delayed for an hour so he had actually started after me, and his brand new Continental tyre had a fault so he had, had to buy another. His early average speed of 22 mph had been ruined.

We cycled the rest of the route together. We saw many more ambulances and many more incompetent cyclists. The call of “ambulance” really does make some people panic. If you can hear a call but not the actual ambulance then you have some time to respond..however I saw one woman panic so much she fell off sideways from a pretty much stand still and another guy stopped dead in front of me whilst going down a hill (we were the only two people in sight).

We made the most of our last few miles, giving highfives to supporters, enjoying racing past people on Box HIll and finally by sprinting down the Mall and across the finish line. Official time: 8 hours 24 minutes 31 seconds.
I reckon it would have been 6.5 – 7 hours.
Ultimately, someone died on the course, all three of us returned unharmed and Chris had a great birthday present. I won’t do it again, but Ollie should give it a go on an early start with the the peloton, rather than later on.

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A day of two halves; Part One

New Union Jack Kask ready to go

New Union Jack Kask ready to go

After writing my last post, I left the hotel and found the start with absolutely no problems along the way. The weather was much warmer than I expected it would be at 0700 hours and I ended up taking my arm warmers off to stand in the waiting area. Within a few minutes I got chatting to two ladies, one of which was called Lauren – and I ended up cycling a bit of the first part of the course with her and then again a little later.

Mandatory start-line photo

Mandatory start-line photo

We set off on time, or possibly one minute early – and we flew past all of my 2014 puncture locations. The weather was perfect and the participants were friendly and fun.

After leaving Lauren behind I started to draft a few people, and then found someone going the right speed for me so I sat behind him for a while before feeling bad and introducing myself! His name was Rhys and he lives about 20 miles from us; his friends had left him behind. We cycled together through London, Richmond Park and through to the bottom of Newlands Corner, where I accidently dropped him. Feeling bad I did wait for him at the hub but didn’t see him come through, until I was too far away to get his attention.

Newlands Corner was the 47 mile point and it had taken me around three hours to get there – my Garmin stated that I had averaged 16.3 mph up to that point and I was super pleased with myself – I was feeling good and beginning to hope for a sub 7/6.5 hour time.

And that is where the second half of the day started…

Another trip abroad..

Yesterday, Chris, Ollie and I, along with one of Ollie’s old school mates – Matt, cycled to Wales and back. Coincidentally, it was exactly a year since this.  You may well think “well that wasn’t a coincidence; they planned last years ride, and they planned yesterday’s ride”, but we didn’t plan to do them exactly a year apart!

It gives me a chance to see how my cycling has changed though; for one I did not projectile vomit after the ride, despite it being about 24 miles longer.

Here are some photos for comparison, followed by some facts and figures!

4th May 2014: On the Welsh side of the bridge

4th May 2014: On the Welsh side of the bridge

4th May 2015: Chris and I on the bridge.

4th May 2015: Chris and I on the bridge.

Ollie, Matt and I on the bridge

4th May 2015: Ollie, Matt and I on the bridge

A comparison of the 2014 Welsh Adventure with yesterdays adventure:

Mileage: 86 Miles vs. 110.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3,560 ft vs. 3,329 ft

Avg Speed: 14.1 Mph vs. 15.8 Mph

Moving Time: 6:07:25 vs. 7:00:37

Elapsed Time: 7:38:05 vs. 08:01:03

Luckily it was slightly flatter yesterday; the legs are still recovering from Yorkshire and two fairly fast rides during the week. Other than that, I am pretty happy with how my cycling is going. Definite improvement there!

Although I’m doing something wrong if I’m no longer sick!

Less than a week ’til the essay is due in and summer is here 🙂

Laura

Race day stats

The results from yesterday are up. Here are some figures: 

Chris, who started a little later than us, rode the 100 miles in 8 hours, 7 minutes and 57 seconds – thanks to him for sticking with us slowees. I came in at 8 hours, 25 minutes and 52 seconds, and Ollie 1 second behind me because he’s a gent!

That put us in positions 177, 190 and 191 out of 247. 

The fastest male on the day rode the course in 3 hours 18 minutes, which is crazy! The fastest female 3 hours 51 minutes – same sentiment there really. We were one hour longer than the average time, however the average female time was 8 hours 3 minutes and 45 seconds so we were only a tiny bit slower than average, even with the mechanical issues. 🙂

 

 

 

A complete century

The official time isn’t out yet, not that it was really about the time, but the moving time on my Garmin is 7 hrs and 6 mins over a distance of 101.70 mi and an elevation increase of 4,193ft. The official time will be around 8hrs 30 mins.

 

I am so happy to have finally completed a century! Today was obviously the day. For weeks I have been struggling with my fitness, joints and fatigue; today the weather was perfect, my fuelling plan worked and I didn’t bonk. It has become customary for me to have a half an hour lie down as soon as I get off the bike but today I felt so good at the end of the ride that this wasn’t necessary and four and a half hours later I am still vertical.  

On the way into Warminster I commented on the fact that I had got to the 20 mile point with no punctures, and that even at such an early stage this sportive was an improvement on London. On the way out of Warminster my gears suddenly stopped working, the cable hung loosely – it had snapped. I remember the disbelief that things were going wrong again, although I have learnt the basics of bike maintenance I had no idea whether this was a significant problem – to me it looked awful. It couldn’t have happened in a more convenient place though really, we had just left the rest stop so we turned around and headed back to the bike mechanic who replaced the cable free of charge. Apparently it was a strange thing to happen – goodness knows how I managed it. 

 

Much of the rest of the ride went without incident; parents, grandparents and granddog supported as usual – thank you very much 🙂 At our final stop we realised that we were likely to do the 100 miles in just over 8 hours and we increased our pace a bit to try and get as close to the 8 hours as possible. However at the 96 mile point we came across a lad on a bike, which was making an awful noise and Ollie stopped to help him. I carried on to the 97.2 mile point, from which I blogged, where I stopped thanks to my chain coming off! The boy had a puncture and hadn’t realised, so Ollie spent around 15 minutes mending it for him, (although he had a spare tube he hadn’t got any tyre levers and had no idea how to go about replacing the tube) while unbeknown to him I waited at the bottom of the hill and Chris was desperately trying to work out where we could have got to. Finally, all reunited at the bottom of the hill, we finished off the ride – it wasn’t London, but it was great to complete it with my brother who got me into it in the first place.

For Ollie – what a journey – no bike to a century within three months! Congratulations! 

 

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Posing with my brother!

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All three of us at about 40 miles

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Pulling in for some lunch.

 

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All three of us at Crofton Pumping Mill

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Ollie and I coming in to the finish. We had discussed a photo with all three of us holding hands, but no-one was too keen to be in the middle!

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Chris coming into the finish.

 

Almost a month late, but it’s complete albeit on a more difficult course than originally intended! 

Laura

It was not the turn of the century.

The long awaited 10th August 2014 was not the day that I had planned for, trained for and certainly not the day that I have been imagining for the last 6 months. I suppose it was a cyclist’s nightmare, but a blogger’s dream. Where to start?

I think to start I need to mention the fantastic support I have had over the last week in particular: to my parents for travelling to London on the train for a mere glance of me crossing the finish line and for the pleasure of buying me an ice cream to help my recovery; to my brother for organising them (!) and for cleaning my bike; to Ollie for spending an entire week cooking for me and looking after me, for putting up with my nerves, for driving me, for getting up super early and for travelling around London alone to catch photographs of me; to Sammy and Jean for putting up with me and keeping me going; to the Public of London and Surrey, who were frankly amazing and to London Ride 100 for making the right decision. There are many others but it’s beginning to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech.

Setting off

Setting off

Shortly after I posted, first thing Sunday morning, the organisers of London 100 made the decision to cut out Box and Leith Hill making the route just 86 miles long. Initially I was extremely disappointed, having spent 6 months training and preparing for the century and avoiding completing 100 miles so that London could be the one, however having completed the 86 miles I am convinced that the organisers made the correct decision. There were several accidents along the way most probably caused by the poor conditions, Leith Hill descent would have been Leith-al!

The main cause of the day not going as planned, and resulting in me naming my ride on Strava as ‘Hellish’, was named Bertha; ex-hurricane Bertha. The Met Office describe the horrendous rainfall and wind speeds within their blog, but of particular note was their comment about the amount of rainfall:

The highest hourly total was 18.4 mm at Wisley in Surrey between 9 and 10 am this morning

As a small, novice cyclist I am yet to develop the strength or discover the skill to cycling in wind, even the most unassuming of breezes upsets my cycling and slows me down, so although I knew that the rain wasn’t going to be fun, it was the wind which was really concerning me. I couldn’t really have imagined the amount of rain which came down though, or the subsequent conditions which we would have to endure. I remember wondering, while cycling through Richmond Park with a disorientating stream of mud running diagonally across the road, whether this was a course better designed for Mountain Bikers. It was shortly afterwards, in Kingston, that we were asked to dismount in order to walk through or around the largest flood that we had faced to this point.

Flooded under the Kingston Bridge.

Flooded under the Kingston Bridge.

Having carried our bikes around the flood and remounted, we were captured on camera by Ollie:

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I heard the course being described as Toughmudder for cyclists by two girls on the TV, while Chris Boardman described the rain as being

Torrential and then Biblical and then back to Torrential again. 

There were points within the course, while cycling in the centre of the road, that I was unable to see the curbs at each side of the road, let alone what was in front of me. Although I was wearing my cycling glasses water was still pouring into my eyes; so it is from this experience that I learnt that my left eye lid is pretty inefficient… I constantly had to wipe/rub the water from my left eye or cycle with my left eye closed. 

As with most organised rides, once I am out on them I rarely know where I am so I can’t identify the locations of the two other significant floods which we went through, one of which I thought had killed my Garmin Cadence sensor as I had 0 cadence for the following 10 miles.  £££££ flashing before my eyes. Nor can I expose the location of the crazy , cyclist hating woman who nearly had me off. I think at this point it is important to stress how absolutely fantastic the public were; people of all ages, individuals, couples, families, pub parties all out cheering us on, high-fiving us and generally making us smile, in torrential rain as well as sunshine. But this one lady ignored, even fought with, the stewards and walked out into the road directly in front of me, with a look of rage in her eyes and shouted STOP! There would have been no chance for me to stop but I managed to swerve and avoid her. Her action was simply to make a point though – the road behind me was clear – she only had to wait a matter of seconds to cross safely.

The secondary cause of the day not going to plan, could also be blamed partly on the weather, in that within 7 miles of the start I had two consecutive punctures. It took around 30 minutes to replace the tube, twice, and to do an inordinate amount of pumping (Sammy kindly banned me from pumping due to my sore wrists). During this 30 minute stop we couldn’t believe that we didn’t receive a single offer of help, while on the Savernake Sizzler you’d be offered support by a fellow rider at the merest sign of a sneeze but on Sunday as three ladies struggled, competently, at the side of the road flanked by men standing around looking on we weren’t offered assistance, not even once. That’s London for you. Once we had set off again we flagged a Mavic support vehicle for their track pump. On the road once more, in torrential rain, barely able to see what was in front of us, we were flagged down by two lads who were on their fourth and fifth punctures (double puncture); they had run out of tubes and their pump had broken. We stuck around to help them and thus ended up at Hampton Court over 60-90 minutes later than anticipated. The day was barely recoverable – if we got to the end without being captured by the broom wagon we would be lucky.

 

Double puncture in torrential rain.

Double puncture in torrential rain.

Boys struggling

Boys struggling

Girls helping

Girls helping

And this leads to the third cause of the day being more difficult than it should have been; weather and maintenance distractions meant that I didn’t keep to my fuelling and drinking plan. Furthermore, my poor foresight and thus preparation meant that I hadn’t given my Fig rolls and electrolyte tablets adequate protection – at Hampton Court hub I found a pink mush, a combination of the tablets and the rolls. In case anyone was wondering, pink Fig rolls taste as bad as they look. At Newlands I bonked but there was a handy cafe selling chips which we each bought a portion of and ate like the possessed.

I’ve taken two days to reflect on a ride, which became my priority for 6 months and after so much anticipation it’s difficult to get over the disappointment of; not completing 100 miles, not enjoying the ride and the fact that the ride was punctuated with difficulties. However, I think it will become a fond memory – the crowds, the piano man singing ‘The bare necessities’, sprinting along the Mall (as instructed by my brother – in Cavendish style), the privilege of cycling on closed roads and I suppose even the weather added an element of adventure to it. 

My brother's comparison on me and the Pro's

My brother’s comparison of me and the Pro’s

And late yesterday my brother sent me this…

2 seconds slower than Vos

2 seconds slower than Vos

…so maybe I didn’t do as badly as I first thought.

The wait for the turn of the century continues and I remain defiantly novice.

For those of you who have already sponsored me – I will complete 100 miles this summer, and for those of you who haven’t – why on earth not?! I cycled through a hurricane – it’s got to be worth a fiver surely?

Laura

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Sponsor me here

The official photographs can be seen here but they are not representative of the day – I was soaked and wearing a waterproof for all but about 90 minutes of the 8 hour ride.