On the last Sunday in May I rode the CFC 100 mile sportive, starting and finishing in Stratford-upon-Avon weaving through bits of the Cotswolds, taking in Saintbury Hill amongst other steep nasties along the way. I signed up a few weeks before and hadn’t given it much thought as the route looked fairly benign save for the aforementioned Saintbury. It turned out to be a tougher day than expected.
Sunday rolled around and fittingly it was a gloriously sunny day. From the off we kept the effort levels in check and stuck in a small group sharing turns fairly well until Saintbury at the 18 mile mark.
As you can see it is a nasty climb where save for the middle section where you can recover a bit it is mainly a one speed climb. I certainly wasn’t looking to score a PR here and tried to keep it as steady as possible. A fair few were getting off and walking up here which slightly begs the question of why do this ride but that’s probably just a machismo thing.
The section after here until around 45 miles in went by fine but I knew my legs were a bit off and once again struggled to eat properly. At the second food stop I crammed a load of savoury food and felt a bit better but still felt lacking in energy. After my experience in the Peak District a fortnight prior, I had brought a couple of extra caffeine gels than normal but this still felt a bit early to start on them.
We plodded on for the 30-45 minutes but I was still feeling sluggish so I started on the gels and within minutes I felt much better and could start to push the power back up again. I guess I have to accept that I need these on every long ride now!
At this point I was determined to push on and try to match the 100 mile pace I set in the New Forest in 2015 which was a pretty flat route with nothing like the steep climbs of the Cotswolds.
As I mentioned before, it was a hot, sunny day and 3/4 of the way in we were nearly out of water. There was supposed to be a food & water stop at mile 78 but it appeared that they couldn’t get the staff and we had to do without! This section of the ride was well away from any towns and there wasn’t any opportunity to top up. There was an ’emergency’ stop at the 92 mile mark so the only option was to just push on. When we go there it was like finding an oasis in the desert where the water is the best tasting water you’ve ever had. After downing half a litre and a handful of Jelly Babies we set off for the finish.
Instead of the usual unpalatable ‘recovery’ bars you get at these things we instead got a free burger which tasted amazing after eating nothing but ‘ride food’ for the last few hours. I checked my ‘stats’ on the Garmin and I had roughly matched that of the New Forest ride and also went 2 mph faster than this same ride in 2015 – nice to see long term confirmation of not being so slow anymore. With better refinement of my eating / caffeine strategy I should be capable of a lot more on a ride like this but you never quite know how your legs are going to be on a given day.
Stats below. I am not using a cadence sensor anymore (I have a healthy spin and get no value out of knowing so) and the cadence numbers come from my power meter which I suspect doesn’t calculate them very well!