Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Manchester 100

Theres that phrase again ' Entry on the Line.'  Only an extra 50p on this Sportive just to see what the weather is going to be like before committing myself. Luckily, during the week and as it went on the forecast seemed to get better and better until it would nearly be perfect.

A couple of days before I readied my TT bike in anticipation of running a 'good time' for the Manchester 100. Brakes were perfect, wheels sparkling, new cables for derailleurs * ( hmm bad idea, more on that later)  as I needed to extend the tri bar arms and the cables were too short. On the Saturday I actually went to see where the start line was as it was supposed to be quite close. I live junction 18 M60 and the start line just off Junction 5 at Wythenshawe Park. 20 min job.

On the day I just couldn't be bothered to get out of bed and before I knew it I was kinda running late. I wanted to be out of the house for 6am but I eneded up leaving about 6.30am. The start was at 7am and I thought that there wouldn't be many going at that time. As I exitted the motorway there was a huge queue around the park, this was about 6.45am. Oh dear, I promised the missus I should be back by lunch time :P There are a couple of side streets along the way and was tempted the park up them like a few did but decided to respect the resident's area and wait. Actually the wait wasn't so bad and after paying my £2 (£1.50 if paid in advance) I had to follow other cars across the grass to the other end of the park, along way from the start.

TT bike out of the car, fancy wheels on and off I trundled through the wet, freshly cut grass that stuck to the tyres, brakes and blocks and anything else that might have significance. Approaching the start line I could hear the announcer counting down the first wave, off at 7am whilst beyond looked like massive queues. Getting closer I realised I needn't have worried as the girls on registration were getting through everyone at break neck speed. Couldn't be bothered to pin my number on so went to the start and into the next available wave.

GO! 7.17 the clock showed as I past the electronic board. Gently pushed past the others and into the muther of all traffic jams. Didn't even bother to start Garmin off at this point as there was a couple of miles of waiting. Took a while but soon I was flying on my TT bike. Barely any wind which I don't think is ideal as you end up having to break through it and in a gentle breeze its already 'broken?' Again I thought I was taking it easy and saving myself for later but the heart rate monitor rocketed to 180 within the first 5 mins, breathing was normal. I tried to get the HR down but I couldn't so carried on vowing not to look at it again and go off 'feel'. I was passing group by group, no one deciding to latch on. I was hoping to string a few together and then have a rest at some point but it just wasn't happening.

There were a couple of steep hills near the beginning-ish and Garmin showed 11%, had to drop to the little ring  a couple of times but then I couldn't shift up again. Those cheapo gear cables on ebay 10 for £5 or whatever it was do not come pre-stretched and I don't have any barrel adjusters. I thought I had totally stretched the cable when I first prepped the new cable but obviously I hadn't. Big ring all the way, luckily it was relatively flat.

Eventually a small group latched on at about 25miles and as we past other groups they tried but failed to hang on. I dropped them all on a climb which is saying something as I hadn't brought my climbing legs today, they felt crap up inclines. There was then a big descent where I reached 33mph and got stopped suddenly at lights.....Bastard. The others caught back up but didn't want to carry on drafting me. Shortly I had come across the 2nd group of about 30 riders after 40miles ish. Determined to get to the front I passed them all with ease and then was upon the lead group within minutes. Starting to get twinges of cramp appearing so downed my bottle of water as quickly as possible as I hadn't had much and ate a 'natural cereal bar'. I forgot to buy any gels for this trip which turned out to be a mistake and my bike only has one bottle holder so not enough water really.

They turned off for a feed station at 45-50miles and me and another guy carried on but he didn't last long with me. I now wish I had stopped and refuelled here but it may have been too late anyway. I was now cramping at every opportunity so had to ease off the pedals or pedal at a faster cadence. So far all my  miles had been 99% in the aero position, no ill effects although sitting up help alleviate the cramp so maybe the position played a part too? Passing Nantwich I could see there was a triathlon going on and there were bikers coming in the opposite direction. Had to keep a good look out for the signs as there were 3 sets now! THe Manchester 100 was excellently marshalled by volunteeres and my chances of getting lost this time were whittled down to non existant.

Some where now the 100km crew joined onto the main route and there was a feed station at 63miles and was surprised to see it jam packed. It was nice and close to the road, I bought a banana and an energy drink. Wish I bought more now as the drink was gone within a minute. I was away again as soon as possible and the water stop lasted me about 10-15miles of gentle pedalling and you can see the little spike in the HR graph. My world then came tumbling down.

I couldn't contain/control the cramp anymore and I had one massive seizure and only just managed to clip out and get to the side of the road. A marshall came running over ( what a fantastic guy) but by the time he got to me I was away again. I thanked him for his trouble as he had run along way! Heart rate plummeted to 130 now and had to be kept low as excessive pressure on the pedals caused me to cramp again and again and again. Any incline and I was a gonna. Overtakes were now few and far between. A guy past me who was in the lead group with 10miles to go and I hung on as long as possible. He set off at 7.10am. There was noone else in the main 100miler lot to overtake thank god but my chance at a great time had gone at 45miles.

It's not that I didn't have the energy, the muscles possibly hadn't recovered from friday ( hard workout that didn't feel hard)  but my aerobic capacity seemed fine as I wasn't getting out of breath, even at the start of the ride with 180 heart rate. Adrenalin kicked in with 5miles to go and I was able to go fast for quite a while but were were getting near built up areas which meant traffic lights so after an effort I had to stop then another effort required. That hurt! Just before that I was pushed up the last hill of the day which I will be eternally grateful for. Only had a quick chat with the guy then as the road flattened out I zoomed off as if I didn't care but I DID! REALLY! Thanks. THe last few miles took forever to pass by but the park was now in sight and there were peaople clapping and cheering. I held my head down as I didn't feel like I deserved the adulation, just coasting over the finishing line.

I was given a bottle of water and taken to one side to be 'interviewed' by some old woman who picked up on my Rochdale Tri club gear and started to ask loads of questions which just flew over my head. I could smell BBQ chicken and just wanted to get over to it ASAP! The announcer said that I had a 'great looking bike' heh thats all I needed more eyes on me. I did feel like a failure so slipped behind one of the tents and departed very quickly.

The first 40miles miles were amazing and I was having the time of my life but being in my aero position , something didn't want to disturb that so I didn't take sips of my drink as often as I should have and I didn't start drinking until over an hr after starting. The Geoff Thomas Sportive when I felt great all the way around I drank constantly and about 4litres with lots of gels.The feed stations were perfectly set up on that ride though, 25miles 45 miles 65 miles all with energy drink on tap, quick stop and away in seconds. I will get it right one day.

Total ride time was 5hrs 7 mins, I let the Garmin overtime as I was being 'interviewed'.

Garmin DATA    Distance 96miles     Av Sp 20.7mph     Moving time 4hrs 36mins
                            Ascent 2300ft           Av Hr 160!

Thinking about the ride, it was really flat but I was constantly pedalling 'hard?' Was it more difficult than a much hillier ride where there are big respites on the downhill sections? It wouldn't have been faster but I'm sure the effort required is more or am I talking out of my arse?

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