Ride Report: 2011 Canola Canter 150km

10 10 2011

Yesterday I lined up for the 2011 Canola Canter. The Canter is an Audax ride, organised and run by BWW, my local BUG (Bicycle User Group). As always, there was a fairly decent turn out for the Canter with about 60 riders across the 4 distances (50km, 100km, 150km, 200km).

Despite an ordinary nights sleep, I was at the start line with time to spare. Prepared for rain, I’d switched my front bidon for a rain jacket, but was otherwise stocked up on energy gels and bars. A lot more than I’d usually take, but I was thoroughly under-prepared fitness wise and was prepared for the worst.

The pre-ride briefing started on a sad note. There had been two separate, non-car related, bike crashes the previous morning and both riders were in hospital By all accounts, both were fairly nasty and there will be some lengthy rehab involved.

After that, the obligatory instructions about checkpoints and safety. Of course, I paid my usual amount of attention.

The ride started well. At the first main intersection, the 150km riders turned off to the left whilst everyone else banked right. It was a glorious start to the morning and I hooked onto the back wheel of Pete, a strong rider and good bloke. He didn’t seem to mind that I was drafting, and if he did he didn’t say anything. I took a turn in front, if only for 8kms or so. We hit the first checkpoint (25km) in a little under an hour. Considering the headwind, Pete had done a good job of getting us there. After a short stop (for the obligatory chat), we head back. With the tailwind, we returned to the start a lot faster. In fact, over the second 25km, we were nearly 10minutes faster! I say we, but by now I’d been dropped. Pete had pulled ahead at about the 30km mark and I didn’t see him again to the second checkpoint.

The second checkpoint is actually at the beginning (and end) of the course. The 50km riders go out and back to this point, the 100km do the same, albeit by a longer route. The 150 is out and back and then off on a different 100km loop to the 100km riders and the 200km cover both of the 100km loops

Anyway, I caught up with Pete at the second checkpoint. We were the first riders back and there were a few well dones coming my way for staying so close. I commented that Pete was simply toying with me and I expected to be well behind by the finish. We took off together and that lasted for about 10kms before Pete dropped me again. I was grateful that he’d let me draft off him for so long and I worked hard to try and keep him in sight. I was keen to meet up with him at the third checkpoint.

The wind picked up a bit between CPs 2 & 3, and it made the rolling hills just that little bit tougher. I was keen to try to keep my speed up as best I could and was willing myself to hit the half way mark by 2hrs 30. Officially, I was a little off, but considering that time included both CP stops, I was quite happy. If I could maintain a decent pace along the climb to Junee, and maintain the right fuelling strategy, I had a good chance of getting home in a great time. The leg from Junee to Wagga is predominantly downhill and usually fairly quick.

I rarely ride out to Wantabadgery (CP3), and so I was reasonably unfamiliar with the number of hills. I knew it was ‘lumpy’, but I couldn’t quite remember how lumpy. Having had such a short time in the saddle over the past few months, I didn’t do so great on the hills. I didn’t struggle, but I didn’t own them either. I must admit to being pretty happy when I crested the last hill and saw the Junee turnoff. The checkpoint was just around the corner and I could take a break.

Only one problem. The checkpoint wasn’t around the corner. It was in Wantabadgery. It seems I was supposed to go past the turnoff to the CP and then come back this way. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention at the briefing so I’ve probably only got myself to blame.

Pete DID go to the checkpoint, and as such I was now ahead of him. But not for long. He rapidly overtook me but not before telling me I’d failed to hit the CP. I wasn’t going back. The wind had really picked up as I’d turned the corner and I was not in the mood to backtrack. It was only a km and I wasn’t chasing any awards, just the distance. According to weatherzone.com.au, the wind was around 30kph with gusts up to 60kph. Not ideal.

It was only a few more minutes before the rain kicked in. Great, not only was I cold, I was also getting wet and being pushed backwards by the wind. Stopping for a moment, I threw on my high-vis rain jacket and got going again. I was part way through a gradual 20km climb and not keen on loitering. The sooner I got to Junee, the sooner I could rest and warm up a bit.

I later discovered that the conditions had forced a third of the 150km riders to pull out by this stage, and to be honest, they were getting worse.  My speed was dropping constantly and my 10km splits were getting slower and slower. By the time I hit Junee, I was over it, and just wanted to be finished. Getting lost in Junee didn’t help. OK, so lost is a bit dramatic, but it took me nearly ten minutes to find the CP. The map I had was spot on, I just missed it the first time, and only found it after a few back and forths around town. Paper photocopied maps are ok, but they’re not a patch on the GPS on my phone. Thank god for Google, Google maps and navigator. In the end, I spent 13minutes in Junee looking for the CP when it was about 300m away from me.

I’d run out of water by now, but in my eagerness to find the damn CP, I failed to stop for more. I passed half a dozen places to get more, but didn’t.

As I turned towards Wagga, I knew if I could just maintain a reasonable speed, I’d make it home in six hours. As it happens, I couldn’t. I had no really energy left and the best I could do was maintain a grinding 20kph all the way home. Of course, I had plenty of energy gels, just no water to take chase them.

In the end, I came home in 6hr 11mins (moving time) at an average speed of 24.1kph. Given the conditions, I really quite happy with that. My word of choice to describe the ride is ‘brutal’. The wind, more than anything else wore me down. It really kicked in around the 60km mark, but from 90km on it was just ‘brutal’. According to the marshals at the finish, Pete had beaten me home by about 20 minutes which probably equates to about 7kms (although I have no official confirmation on this). All things considered, I’ll take that.

In the month prior, I done 119kms. Yesterday I did 150km. Hardly a balanced preparation. But it’s done now. And despite the wind and rain, I’ve found a new, challenging course. The Wagga-Wantabdgery-Junee-Wagga loop, 100kms in 3½ hours. Challenge accepted.

I’m in recovery mode now, but looking forward to really ramping up the cycling. The weather is usually great this time of year and I’d like to get some serious training in before the summer heat fires up in Dec/Jan.

Garmin Ride Details here

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