The start was at 8am in Poynton which meant getting up at 5:45 am to make sure I got there before registration closed. In the end it was a clear drive, though I was feeling far too sleepy to contemplate riding which was worrying me, particularly as I had just come off a pretty easy week, I expected to be raring to go even given the early start.
Picked up number by about 7:20 then had a bit of a wait til the start. I didn't see the point of getting Bianco ready much before 8 so sat in the car with my coffee to try to wake up and watched the usual shenanigans that always seem to go on around these events (see last post).
Managed to skip most of the queue to start without realising (oops) and set off on the first few miles quite fast (for me) to warm up my fingers a bit and just to get away from the potential carnage at the start. I also got a bit carried away by being on Bianco again I think, its the first proper ride on it this year. As usual on these things I caught up with some big groups of riders doing silly things which I tried to pass as soon as possible, thankfully being so early traffic was non-existent.
There was very little wind which I was pleased about as to me big flats mean headwinds. I decided early on I was going to ride on my own, I like the confidence of knowing I can do long rides off my own effort, seems like cheating to sit on a wheel (wrong attitude on the road I know, Jez is forever giving me grief about it). I was also not feeling particularly sociable or indeed "on it" to be riding with others. Once the route split I realised that it may be a very lonely ride at times as not all the field would be doing the 80 miler so latched onto three guys who came past.
I sucked wheels for ages but did a few turns on the front, mainly when they seemed to be going too slow and allowing gaps to form (ooh get me!).
To be honest most of the ride is a bit of a blur, we rode around the telescope which was nice...which is about as interesting as it got actually. I could tell my head really wasn't in it as I was actually a little bored. I arrived at the feed station having averaged 18mph, which bothered me for some reason as it is quite a bit faster than I had been riding lately, even though it was clear from the average HR that I wasn't thrashing myself. After the feed station (before or after the telescope I can't remember but about 35 miles) my legs really seemed to wake up.
So I did some more catching and passing but no more wheel sucking, then it started to get a bit more lumpy and interesting and actually enjoyable as I passed even more people on the climbs. Bianco was great up the hills, who'd have guessed a bike without guards, rack or pannier would be easier to get up a hill.
I often find I pass a lot of people on climbs on events like this, particularly if there has been a lot of flat, its not because I am a great climber, more that I use my gears appropriately or don't get carried away pushing some gear I can't handle. Though it is satisfying to pass some strong looking bloke, who's probably just battered past me on the flat, me spinning away in a girly gear whilst he tries to grovel up in some monster flat riding ratio.
The big climb of the day was Pott Shrigley (I think, I called it Wiggly, Jiggly, Shoogly and all sorts in my head on the way round) there was a cut off just before it if you were late getting there - no danger of that for me. I could see the hill was getting close, straight into Bollington (I think) on a fast descent, follow the signs....and all of a sudden I missed the hill????
I basically ended up on the 50 mile route, by the time I got my bearings I was only 2 miles from Poynton and CBA going back, which isn't like me but there it is. I missed the route split sign somewhere, somehow. I had the route in my Garmin but all ride it kept blanking then redrawing the map a few minutes later and it decided to do it just around the route split. Signage had been great til then so I just followed the first sign I found. D'oh. I had a page map but it wasn't detailed enough for me to get back on track.
So back to the car, 61.5 miles on the Garmin instead of 78, 3:30 ish on the time and an overall average of 17 mph which means I didn't lose that much on my own or on the climbs. I think I would have got round the full 78 in under 5 hours which was my "good day" target.
So, lessons learned: I'm lazy, I can ride harder than I think and keep it going. Need some better map back up! Flat rides are not my thing when training for a hilly event but I think doing this course with a well matched group would see a fast time and probably be really enjoyable (the hard bit is getting a few more matched riders). Flat roads make eating easy, my nutrition was actually pretty good for a change. Cheshire has some very good traffic free lanes, just a little flat.
I appear to be fighting a bit of a cold at the moment so that probably explains the meh attitude on Sunday.