Meet one of our sportive blogger competition entrants, Peter from Nottingham, who blogs his experiences of the recent Kilo To Go Motion in Mercia sportive.
After the disastrous early onset of cramp in my first sportive, I was praying that this time it wouldn’t happen. The thought of counting down the miles from a measly number currently showing as completed on the Garmin and constantly willing the finish line to appear on the horizon was not something I dared contemplate. To say I got it wrong first time was an understatement. Seat too low, not enough fluids pre ride and to top it off 3 pints of lager the night before. As I found out, a perfect recipe for an early blow up.
Some soul searching the days after, I plucked up the courage to gain some advice from my local triathlon store. Wise words and several pounds lighter in the wallet, I was fuelled with knowledge and various gels and hydration tablets. During a cold, wet and snowy 65 mile training ride to Bakewell (for a pudding), I tested my new fuelling regime and it seemed to work swimmingly. Hopefully it would stand up to the test of 94 miles.
I had been advised to have a couple of bottles of electrolyte drink, with the ‘scientific’ plan to have the various ions and electrolytes already in the system. So the day before the Mercia in Motion ride, I did exactly that. The morning of the ride, I had my usual breakfast of muesli and a cup of tea, but with a stronger 750ml electrolyte drink. By the time I rolled off the start line at Aldersley I had made 5 trips to the loo, to say I was well hydrated was an understatement!
I say rolled off the start line, it was more an embarrassing stumble to which I blame my riding buddy Mike, who must have knocking my gear lever whilst I was in the toilet (of course). Once I’d rejoined my starting group, I hit the front and strung it out a little to make it less of a bunch. I unfortunately lost Mike 20 miles in at a red light, but he caught up with me a few miles shy of the first feed stop (34 miles) as he descended from Cannock like a demon descending pork pie. A quick refuel and we got on our way. The legs were feeling good and the moving average was a very respectable 18mph. We rolled on, meeting only a handful of fellow riders on the quiet roads and at the second feed stop (66 miles) the moving average was still at 18mph. After a bottle refill, gel, half a banana and a soreen snack bar we were on our way to Ironbridge.
There was something magical as we rode past the towering auburn cooling towers of the site of the industrial revolution, however there was nothing magical about the climb out of Ironbridge. Mike disappeared off my bike wheel and as I neared a couple of people helping wave traffic past I looked down and gut wrenchingly saw a reading of 5.5mph, to which I exclaimed, "I could walk up faster!" Once over the crest and legs recovered, I still felt I had plenty in the tank and pushed on. After a sharp descent in Bridgnorth, I chain ganged along with another rider to Pattingham.
This was where the struggle started. It was a steady climb back to Aldersley and combined with a northerly headwind, speed was hit hard. The last 10 miles were pure attrition, but at moments like this you just have to grit your teeth and dig deep. I had set a target of completing in 6 hours, so was over the moon as I rolled over the line with an official time of 5 hours 45 minutes and 21 seconds, but more importantly I had completed the 94 miles with just minimal twinges of cramp and been able to enjoy the ride.