Posts Tagged ‘rain’

Tour of Wessex #2 (after)

All points of the compass: the Tour of Wessex.

All points of the compass: the Tour of Wessex.

Perhaps not quite the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike, the Tour of Wessex 3-day sportive was nevertheless a triple helping of very tough riding. As ever, the pain and discomfort fades from the memory, in this case leaving a generous sense of satisfaction. There’s no doubt that I felt under-prepared for the event, but my body rose to the occasion, and in fact by the 3rd day I felt much more robust, both mentally and physically, than I had at the beginning of Stage 1. Overall I came 53rd of the 204 riders to finish all 3 days, in a time of 19hrs 46min 07s.

So, a brief overview of the three stages, written quite quickly so I don’t forget it all.

Day 1 (106 miles)

  • Not much sleep (4-5hrs) after a long drive, never good for body or mind.
  • Missed big groups in fast early stages after unlucky traffic holdups.
  • Climbing through Cheddar Gorge was spectacular.
  • Long solo sections battered my morale.
  • Head winds after the third feed stop almost finished me off, I really deteriorated and was ready to pack it in.

Day 2 (117 miles)

  • Good sleep, legs in surprisingly good knick after a massage yesterday.
  • Resolved with Jonny and Duncan to have a more social day and stay together.
  • Good banter and drafting routine in groups.
  • Great to see Corfe Castle and the Dorset coast.
  • Had the option to bail and return to London. Resolved to continue.

Day 3 (106 miles)

  • Just me and Duncan. In the drizzle.
  • First three hours into light rain, riding on someone else’s wheel basically like standing over a garden sprinkler.
  • Great sense of solidarity in the groups now. Good communication, brisk riding.
  • Couple of big hills, including Dunkery Beacon, which was tough but no real issue.
  • Encountered lots of cars in windy lanes banked by tall hedgerows – pretty stressful.
  • Outrageously punchy pace lines towards the end.

The hardest bits for me were not the hills, which I barely seemed to notice; instead it was the brutally efficient pace lines. I’m not exactly built like Thor Hushovd, so leading on the front into a buffeting wind after 250 miles cumulative riding was fairly strenuous. Worse than the lead out, though, was peeling off and being unable to stay on the back when the next rider in line, rested from sitting in the slipstream, then put in a monster surge.

I would definitely say the Tour of Wessex is an absolute must for any sportive rider. The organisation and support were both excellent. Book it up asap, and book massages every day. At £12 for 30mins you’d be a fool not to. And try and book Cleers View Farm – top choice for accommodation very near to the event centre.

The only comment I would add is that the time categories were unrealistic. If Gold is out of reach for all but a tiny elite of riders then the ranges need adjusting. Sure, it’s a hard event, but 4% Gold on day 1, 1% on day 2, 0 (zero!) on day 3? Error.

Parting shot: a self-portrait in the event center bathrooms after the end of Stage 3.

Mid-March block

Having completed an arduous 10 weeks of winter training, I treated myself to a light week straight after the Puncheur – literally 2 commute days out of 7. It seems to have paid off: something has clicked, and I now feel like I have some Springtime legs.

A week fortnight ago I tentatively began a fresh month-long ‘block’ of training. Roughly, the plan is to put in long rides every weekend, culminating in the Downland Cycles 100-miler on 11 April. Mid-week, I’ll be alternating 3hr hilly rides with faster-paced tempo riding and intervals.

  • Last Weds I did 2hr 30 out to Toy’s Hill and back.
  • Saturday was 5hrs in the constant drizzle.
  • Thurs this week was Richmond Park – 10 mins race pace x 4, on 2 min intervals. Felt good, it rained again.
  • Tomorrow is… another long, wet one by the look of it.

After Thursday’s session I recorded a new low weight of 10st 8.6. The good thing is I’ve started to feel the fluidity and turn of speed I started to feel around this time last year, when I rode the Burgess Hill Classic.

During this block I’m also going to ensure that I allow myself enough recovery after hard sessions, and slightly reduce the amount of commuting I do.

Tears in the rain

I made only 5 commute legs last week, but on every single one I got drenched. Standing at my side gate on Thursday evening, fumbling with a set of keys, I turned to look at the rain drizzling around a street lamp, and recalled Blade Runner.

Sunday forecast


Oh great. 112 miles in the drizzle.