First century of the season

10 10 2010

Up early this morning, getting ready to head down for the Canola Canter  for my first century ride of the season.

At the Canter last year, I did my first ever 50km ride, coming home in 2hr 45 in awful weather, on a hybrid and with all the wrong gear. This year I’m better organised, better trained and have better gear.

Still, for the first of the season, I hoping to be home inside of 4 hours. If I can get around in 3hrs 30, I’ll be stoked, but 4 would make me very happy.

Post-Ride Edit

Time: 3hr 41m 55s for 103.17km. That’s a not too shabby 27.89kph average speed. At one stage I was looking like coming in at just under 3hr 30, but then we turned into the headwind…

Ride Report

The ride started at the famous Wagga Beach, home of the notorious five o’clock wave. Except rather than 5pm, it was 7.30am. After gathering our brevets (it was an Audax ride) and map, we all set off. I think I heard that there were around 30 of us doing the 100km, with a few others doing the 150 and 200km rides.

The groups formed pretty early. I fell behind the group I wanted to be in immediately as I got caught up in the lights and traffic. Once we passed the bridge to North Wagga, I put in some effort and caught up inside of the 5km mark. From there on in we powered on.

The ride had three basic stages. As you’ll see on the map and profile, it was basically a gradual uphill to the first checkpoint, mostly downhill to the second, and then into the wind for the third.

The group rode at a reasonable pace. We were in the low 30’s for most of the first leg. The roads were good, there was a very slight wind, just strong enough to be a cooling breeze but not strong enough to really impede us. We all had a good little chat – ‘what’s your name?’, ‘how far you riding?’ etc, until we got to the slow incline that leads into Marrar.

Now I knew that there were some hills climb, and I’d slowly been formulating a ride plan. My final decision was based on three things:

  1. I seem to drop off the pack on a hill lately, and I hate having to try and catch the group after hills.
  2. I’ve never felt truly comfortable riding in a pack, even less so on hills.
  3. I have to push myself if I want to improve on hills. I am considering doing one of these rides at the end of January, so I need to improve my hill strength and fast.

So I decided that I’d break away on the hills and go them alone. If I pushed hard, I could get ahead of the group and by the time they were done I’d be back with the pack. Of course, things didn’t quite go to plan. I broke away and stayed ahead of the pack the whole way. Either they weren’t pushing or I was doing better than I thought. Either way, by the crest of the last hill before the checkpoint I had about 30seconds on the the next couple of riders and a good couple of minutes on the pack.

It was at this point that I lost my chain. Recently the chain has been coming loose when shifting from the small chain rig to the big on the front. Usually if I shift back to the small the chain will flick back on, but this time it didn’t. By the time I stopped and flicked it back on, the first of the riders had passed  me. Jumping back on and chasing them, I hit the checkpoint about 20seconds after them, and a couple of minutes later, the rest of the group came in.

After the obligatory signing of the brevet, food, drink and toilet breaks, we set off again. Of course, I started off the pace and had to catch up to the bunch. The first half of this leg was smooth roads, beautiful scenery and nice tailwind. We cracked on, riding in the mid-high 30s, breaking 40kph at times. By the time we hit the Millwood Rd (just after the half way mark), I started thinking about the next lot of hills. It wouldn’t be long before we hit the 10km of rolling hills and I knew that I was going to go alone again.

I broke away a little before the 55km mark, and pushed hard on every hill, up and down. To my suprise, I stayed ahead of the pack and pulled further away from them with each hill. I doubt that they were trying to catch me because I’m sure they could have. Nonetheless, I was happy with my performance. I didn’t disgrace myself on the hills. The last few kms before the second checkpoint was essentially downhill so I cruised along conserving some energy for the final stretch. In the process I got picked up by a three rider chase group. A little over a km from the second checkpoint we turned east, straight into a headwind, and it hit hard.

We rolled into the checkpoint, stocked up and took off. I tried to push, but I couldn’t. I felt like I had nothing left in the legs and the energy gels hadn’t kicked in yet. I struggled to keep the pace in the mid 20’s. The three riders left me behind and one by one the rest of the pack picked me off. By the time I hit the last hill of the ride, I was struggling just to keep moving. I’d used up far too much energy on the second leg and hadn’t refuelled often or early enough. Thankfully, on the roll downhill I picked up some pace, and the gels started to kick in. I had a little strength back in my legs and managed to maintain at least 25kph all the way home.

In the end, I came home in 3hr 41mins. Almost 20mins faster than I’ve ever done a century before, and considering I haven’t done more than 60km since winter, I’m quite happy with the outcome. Except that I think had  I refuelled earlier and more frequently, I could have taken another 10-15minutes of my time. That would have seen me home in under 3hr 30min and I would have been ecstatic with that.

So I’ve set myself a new goal. My next hundred in under 3hr 20. That’ll be an average of 30kph, and that will be awesome.

Congrats and thanks to Bicycle Wagga Wagga for another well organised event. I’m especially glad that they managed to sort the weather out this year, and the rain stayed away (it’s pouring today though). I would like to suggest that next year we do something about that wind along Old Narranderra Rd!

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2 responses

11 10 2010
Bryan

Great job!

11 10 2010
chrisfit2009

It’ll be in the ride report, but the more I reflect on the ride, the more I think I made a few mistakes and I really think I could have come home in under 3hr30.

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