85 days until Gary Rides WC2C… (oh my)
Gary is fundraising for the Cots for Tots appeal on Just Giving, any donations are appreciated!
April hasn’t been kind to me and I’ve been a little quiet for it. I’ve been feeling awful for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been feeling tired, not sleepy tired, just a hollow, head under water kind of fuzziness. It even got to the point where I was struggling to do my commute by the shortest possible route. And when I posted one of my slowest ever commute times whilst riding an 18lb road bike, I knew something was up!
It all started at the Hell of the North Cotswolds (HONC). The HONC was my first dipping of the toe into the world of endurance mountain biking I guess. Back in 2008 I quite nervously grunted my way round in 6 hours 10 mins and 100km of pure grit and determination, and while I wouldn’t say I was hooked at that point, it certainly set me up for the next one.
Scott had recently tested Trek’s Superfly AL hardtail over on Cyclist No.1, thought it would be rude not to try it out…
Fast forward and I was at Winchcombe school again on the start line for the 2012 HONC. I was riding with fellow Cyclist No.1 contributor and charity rider Richard Fox (who starts his charity Jogle this week, good luck!). We sprung out of the school gates quite near the front and set about getting up the first big climb into some clear air to enjoy some lovely, natural Cotswolds riding. For about 40km or so we were really motoring and mixing it up with some pretty keen looking cyclocross riders too. I kept asking myself if this was too fast? But I felt fine so just assumed this was my ‘new’ pace. By the 50km and half way stage we were on for a 5 hour finish time (my goal for the day) but with hindsight the early stages of it unravelling for me were well under way. I felt the onset of a ‘bonk’ almost exactly on the 50km mark. I don’t ‘bonk’ normally, it was a bit early anyway, and it came on very sudden leaving me scratching my head a bit. Rich bailed me out with a snack bar and we cruised into the feed station some 15 minutes later. And that was it, I never really recovered after that. I quickly found Rich waiting at the top of every single climb, of which there were quite a few!
I was pretty early to register for once! The HONC sells out fast and I actually bought my ticket 10 mins early, and was still no.51!
We got back to Winchcombe and Rich told me we’d taken 5hrs 30m, not bad I thought all things considered. Only this was the ‘ride time’, the total elapsed had put us at around 6hr 10 mins – the very time I did four years ago! I was gutted and I’m sure Rich saw it in my face. I knew it had been a poor ride for me but surely my worst should be better than what I could manage back then? Yes there was a pretty hard head wind which seemed to blow all the way round, and we managed to somehow accrue a ‘lazy’ 40 minutes of stoppages along the way, but still – I was gutted!
Just a dork and his bicycle, putting on a brave face… my smile says I’m fine, my legs want to kill me!
I’m made of pretty stern stuff and shrugged it off quickly. It was a lovely day and it was good to give the tan lines a head start, and I really don’t get to ride with Rich very often. I figured some better nutrition and more cautious pacing would see me right and I could look forward to Bike Fest. A few days later it was apparent I’d done some damage as not only was I not recovering at all, I was getting worse! A week’s rest did nothing, another week’s rest did nothing. In fact up until this week, I’ve literally been unable to ride anywhere near a decent pace, and the low point was when I posted a 15kph commute on the road bike – ouch!
It was time to step away from the bike.
I’ve been resting, I’ve sorted my diet out a bit, I’ve got myself on a pretty potent multi-vitamin, and I’ve been trying to stay positive and not get too down, oh and lots of sleep. Finally and thankfully I’m starting to get back on track. This week there was a glimmer of power in the legs and my heart rate wasn’t going through the roof at the first sign of gradient. I even managed a local Strava xc loop within 112% of my PB, on my cyclocross bike, and without really maxing myself out. I’ve got to be pretty pleased with that!
So hopefully I’m on my way back! I’m going to ease back in, not rush, just enjoy riding! There’s a lot hinging on Bike Fest now but I’ve got something interesting in the pipeline in addition to actually racing, TBC! I was hoping for a top 10 at Bike Fest but now it’s about just getting round the 12-hours elegantly and efficiently with no drama or problems. If I can do that I think I’ll be able to carry the confidence I need to tackle the WC2C head on!
Obligatory Superfly 100 shot, still getting the miles in on this one too!
On a positive note, the Bontrager kit is holding up really nicely!