UPDATED June 2015!
Given the better weather I am riding to work a lot more now, this can be viewed as the interval work for the challenge as the distance door to door is only 11 miles. It’s proving a useful suppliment to training though.
One thing I need to be careful of is putting too much pressure through my knees, I can ride all day at a sedate, old-man sportive pace but if I push (I have to get to work in good time!) I get achy knees after the 3rd or 4th communte.
Riding in is a big booster in unexpected ways: it confirms my fitness, it adds to my fitness and it saves a decent amount of money each week plus the environment is happy! Now, if only the wind would calm down a touch, it would be perfect.
The ride forms the bulk of the challenge and, despite having ridden a number of endurance challenges; this part of the Ironman is the bit that is bothering me most.
The maths is simple, to get in under 8 hours for the 112 miles, I need to average at least 14mph. When you see it written down it doesn’t seem too bad, some parts of the course will see speeds creep over 30mph, others will see the number dwindle to 7mph. However, I know from experience that clipping along for the first 3 hours at 17mph will degrade my average in the last couple of hours in the ride. The trick is to save your legs where you can (downhill and/or wind assisted) and make sure that a minimal amount of energy is expended achieving the 14mph average for all the other parts of the ride.
Eight hours is too long though, I’d be happy if I could maintain an average of 15mph, which would knock 14 minutes off the 14mph time. I have to be mindful about arriving in good condition for the row, potentially another 3.5 hours of slog with very tired muscles. Food intake will be critical for both the bike and the row; I can’t afford to run out of energy, coming back from ‘the bonk’ is virtually impossible without a long rest.
I am very fortunate to live near the Ridgeway and places like White Horse Hill, they make for great bike rides when you are training or simply out for fun. The only downside to this is the potential for climbing, not something I want to do too much of on this challenge.
I rode in the Childrey Spring Classic recently, it was nice to do a local sportive taking in some of the amazing views across the downs. I must confess to copying the first 30 miles of their route because it was relatively flat and very familiar to me. Three of these loops (with a couple of miles added on) plus a smaller 14 mile loop around Wantage, Hanney and Challow make up the 112 miles. If you fancy this sportive next year, keep your eye on, the website below, it’s a very friendly, local sportive taking in some fantastic countryside.
The bonus with this circular route is that I am always close to home or the gym; the worst case scenario is a wrecked bike but this can be easily solved by someone driving my mountain bike out to me relatively quickly. Training on these loops is invaluable, I can get to know them really well prior to event day. This can make the difference when it comes to getting the hills done, if you know where to push to take as much momentum into a hill a possible, it makes the overall energy expenditure slightly less.