Monday, 2 June 2008

Chiltern 100

We haven’t had much of a training update over the last few weeks, but as summer has arrived so have various family commitments, so there have been fewer larger group rides, but individually we have been increasing the distances and climbing involved via sorties out deeper into the Chilterns.

Our first real benchmark test of our fitness came this weekend with the Chiltern 100 sportive, a 105 mile loop starting from Great Missenden involving 2620m of climbing. Depending on what you read, this is only about 650m less than in the Etape. To make a crude comparison, if we were to add on an extra 5.2 miles to the Chiltern 100 at a gradient of 8%, this would account for the additional 650m. So if we assume we can make just 4 mph at the end of the Etape, this would mean we have to add on an additional 1:20 to whatever time we might achieve in the Chiltern 100 to gain some sort of comparison. The broom wagon completes the Etape in 9 hrs 40 mins, so the minimum target for Sunday was 8 hrs 20 mins.

So back to the actual day, alarms went off around 0545 (another good piece of training for the big day) and 5 of us left Harpenden at 0630. This allowed us to park in the Great Missenden school car park where the event started. We quickly registered and were in the second wave to leave at 0805. The weather was not great to start with and many people setting off with rain jackets on. However it was not cold and the rain stopped within the first hour. Given this was a quasi competitive event, the adrenaline was flowing and we set off at a pace way above our normal longer training rides, we were averaging 18mph for the first couple hours, even though they included 4 biggish climbs. However we soon came to realise this was the flattest part of the course.

The first feed station was slightly too early on for my liking at about 36 miles, but I refilled a water bottle had a bite to eat and quickly carried on. So far I had kept up well with the bunch but could feel the pace might be too tough for me to sustain. And so it proved, at 40mph there was a long climb and I lost contact with the leading group. I tried hard at the top to catch up, but I was not to see Tim and Andy again until the finish.

The section from 40 to 80 miles was particularly tough, there were virtually no flat sections at the bottom of each descent, just straight up again and some of the climbs tipped 20% in places. In particular the climb out of Chinnor up to the last feed station at 72 miles was tough.
Thereafter there were still 5 more climbs of any note, but none were quite the same challenge. At the final feed station I caught up with Robin and two of his friends and whilst they left a minute or so before me, I managed to catch Robin 15 minutes later at the top of climb 16, who had been dropped by his friends. We cycled together for 15 minutes then I lost him on a descent, so I spent the last 20 miles mostly on my own. Using the route I had found on Mapmyride, I had added some message markers that counted the tops of each of the climbs. I found this quite motivating towards the end as it went from 4 to 3 to 2 and then just the final climb. I think I got the drink and food about right as I felt I had something left in the tank to push hard on the final flatish/down hill 3 miles into Gt Missenden, average well over 20mph. The last hour or so I was also conscious that I might well beat 7 hours so I did push this last section.

So how did we do (Now available on the Chiltern 100 results page):
• 06:27:34 Andy M
• 06:31:46 Tim W
• 06:48:12 Brett I
• 06:48:13 John G
• 06:48:16 Simon W
• 06:49:05 Robin H
• 06:57:19 Craig
• 07:10:16 Andy C
• 07:13:15 Mike
• 07:57:05 Michael M
• 07:57:06 Paul M

So, I think we all did well, nearly every member of the team got a bronze award and the first six all got silver awards. As a team we narrowly missed an overall gold award. Also, if my estimates are anything like correct on the comparison, then we should all avoid the dreaded broom wagon. Also against my time for the British Sportive last year of 7:24 (117 miles and only 2000m of climbing) this was a great improvement.

The route takes you through some lovely villages and country-side, I would thoroughly recommend this sportive to anyone. The organization was good too and on behalf of those who took part, I would like to thank all the organisers (Chiltern 100 web site).

1 comment:

Craigster said...

My elapsed time was 6:57. Thanks for organising the team entry - sorry I didn't catch up with you guys at the start. I locked my bike onto the roof rack then drove off with the keys on the roof of the car... Thankfully after much desperate searching in the middle of the Hitchin Road, I found them in the gutter. Definitely a lucky escape!