It seems like 6 months since I last took part in a sportive, that was the Cheshire Cat back in mid-April. Since then I have been continuing to put in the miles, I've extended my training route to a regular 35 mile route at the weekend which takes in a couple of challenging climbs. Work has been busy over the past month so after work rides have unfortunately been limited.
Although I'm doing a lot more climbing, and most certainly a lot longer "all in one go" training rides than previous years, I should also be getting a couple of mid week rides in. Going into the Macclesfield Bikeathon although I was comfortable, I did feel a bit stiff. I didn't have a smooth flow to my cycling rhythm and found myself puffing a bit. I'm also having trouble with the bike, I'm really struggling to get comfortable and have been adjusting my position.
Anyway, Sunday morning rolled up and I entered the 53 miles again. The 53 kicks off into the hills surrounding Macclesfield and Congleton, touching into the Staffordshire peaks for 30 miles before heading back down around Jodrell Bank and back to Macclesfield.
Anyone who has ventured into Winkle will know there a tough couple of climbs. Last year after just 2 climbs in I had to pull over, nearly spewing up, as I had ran into the red, it was a big, big lesson for me.
This time I was wiser, I had the hills from practice in the legs and managed a lot better, not stopping at all and climbing pretty comfortably (needless to say I didn't keep with the groups, but only got overtook once or twice). The hills do take their toll and saps the energy right from the legs and I found the last time miles really tough. I was riding on my own, there was a gusting wind which made it difficult too and I kept getting cramp in my right thigh.
I just couldn't seem to get into a rhythm and felt I was going backward, I just spun a hopelessly high gear in the big ring, rolling along lanes which seem to take forever.
Funnily I completed the course in 3 hours 15 minutes. 45 minutes quicker than my target! I completed a similar course in March which was 50 miles in 3 hours 22 minutes.
Now I would be chuffed but I still feel deflated. I cycled like a moron, I got overtook a number of times, I couldn't hang on to groups and just seemed to lack any energy in the legs. I blame it on the lack of training before hand, those extra miles of training make all the difference in the final 10 miles.
Another problem I had was that the bike overnight had picked up a strange clicking sound in the left hand crank/pedal. It was very obvious in the small ring and a little obvious in the big ring.
It knocked my concentration, I was too busy worrying about the noise, too busy getting angry about it. The noise when right through to the pedal everytime I got to 12 o clock on the upstroke and it affected the rhythm of my pedalling with a vibration going up my leg every time. I have no idea where it has come from as my ride the day before was perfectly fine. I'm getting into Dave Hinde's next week.
On top of that my cleats decided to play up too! The right side only clipping in at severe angle. Why did this all happen on the Sunday of a ride at the same time!!
So a good time but I felt I could have/should have done better especially on the flat and decents.
Once again another great event from Bikeathon crew, would definitely recommend it for 2011!