Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tales from the Darkside

Last week I completed the Manchester 100 mile sportive. It was an interesting and educational experience. It was also rather painful.
Sometimes in life we 'bite off more than we can chew' This ride was a perfect example of this.
Although the initial taste was delicious it was soon followed by acute indigestion, and nausea. I bonked. After my previous weeks blistering pace in The Hotter N Hell (Texas) my confidence was high.
I was a Mule, my hooves were on fire, and my maine was once again ready to flow in the wind. I had some high equine standards to keep up.
I knew my American Mules would be neighing at my progress, especially as I was the sole mule representative in this UK 100 miler.
It was also the first time that our distinctive red and blue livery would be seen upon these shores.

Joanne our first female Mule also was taking part in the 100 km ride - all in all it was an auspicious moment in Mule history.

I set off at about 7 30 am wearing enough layers to be compared to an gigantic onion.
It was a chilly start.
There was also a strong south westerly headwind that was forecast to increase as the day progressed.
With this in mind I decided to push off hard knowing that I might get some assistance from nature on the run in.

After 30 mins I was pulling a long pace line at well over 20 mph.
The heat generated from my efforts left me wishing I had left my thermal long sleeved shirt in the car. I was poaching. like some over sized 'boil in the bag' recipe.
After 45 mins I was still pulling and twitching my elbow like mad.........No takers !!!!
After 60 mins I twitched my elbow, patted my bum and looked over my shoulder for support........still no takers.
After 90 mins I sarcastically shouted out 'Am I pulling all the way?'

My words like my efforts seemed to be lost on the multi coloured train behind me and I was well cooked. I had been in the red zone for far too long and it was time to slow down a little.
Just as I tempered my cadence an even faster pace line hurtled past on the outside.
It was an open invitation, too good a chance to miss.

Instinctively I jumped on the back leaving my own line floundering behind me.
Although I smiled at their demise, I also cursed myself as I watch the blur of the second drink station pass across my eyes.
My bottles were nearly empty.
In this new group I was definitely punching above my weight, clinging onto their back wheels as my I could hear my heartbeat racing to keep up with my ego.
After 55 miles there was a compulsory stop where you had to check in. By then I had averaged a not too shabby 23 mph.

I was on course to get in well under 5 Hours and smash my Personal best. The buzz was immense and My adrenalin was making me feel quite giddy.

Foolishly I just booked in and out believing that I could survive to the next drink station.
When I was in Texas I drank at least one bottle every hour and was totally disciplined about it. Now in England this had all 'gone to pot', deceived by the more temperate weather. I had also forgotten about my fluid loss during my poaching session

After 60 miles my legs had decided that they were no longer interested in my instructions.
Willfully they had decided that they wanted to go at their own pace, one considerably slower than what I was requesting.
After 78 miles I got to the final drink station. It was at the same time that my body had formed a firm alliance with my legs. Although I drank loads and it did wet my throat, I was still thirsty and this new and sudden volume of liquid made me want to throw up.
My legs now trembled like like a dog performing its morning ritual.

The last twenty miles were Hell. I looked for wheels to follow but the only one that I seemed to be able to stick with belonged to an 80 year old woman riding a mountain bike.
She had a small fluffy dog in a basket at the front that 'looked on' curiously.
On spying me the dog winced and shook his head in utter disdain, before hiding behind his elderly companion.
Maybe my frothing mouth was a giveaway.

This part of the ride was integrated with the 100 km participants and most of them were now overtaking me. There were pretty girls dressed in pink with crowns attached to their helmets and gents riding standard urban bikes, their troussers restrained by cycle clips.
They all gave me a wide berth as I meandered across the road like a lazy river.
Local authority Vans were and warning signs appeared by the roadside 'Heavy Plant Crossing'
Each time I came across a hill my thighs ignited with cramp, so excruciating that I was forced to abandon my bike in search of pavements or gates to facilitate some stretching exercises.
The remaining miles were covered slowly, very slowly.
Each mile I split into quarters and knocked off each one in my head.
When my Garmin finally read 100 miles there was no finishing line to be seen. I held back my tears.
My sense of humour had evaporated with most of my bodies fluids.
Every turn of the pedal felt like a mammoth task.
At 100.7 miles I went over the line in 5 hrs 58 mins. I was totally fu**ed.
The following week I did not want to ride, I did not want to see a bike again. In fact I did not even want to read about bikes or biking and hid all of my biking magazines.
Even my bike blog, like my bike was abandoned. I needed Rest and reassurance
This weekend I sought solace with my Best friend Colin down in the fens.
The Fens are flat.........really flat. Its like having an extra gear, a lazy cyclist heaven and sprinters paradise.
I took my bike to throw into a ditch along the route and my Camera to record the ceremony.
Saturday Morning requested forgiveness as it presented itself with a windless, cloudless day with warmth in the air.
It was too much
The lure was too strong I did 55 miles Saturday and thirty Sunday and loved ever minute of it and my keyboard is now humming again. I also managed to get some great pictures too!!!!!

5 comments:

jeff said...

I'm glad you're back on it. I'm also glad you shared the 80 year old mountain biker and her dog-in-a-basket. My laughter brought tears to my eyes. Thanks!

Red Bike said...

"The last twenty miles were Hell. I looked for wheels to follow but the only one that I seemed to manage was one belonging to an 80 year old woman riding a mountain bike with a dog in a basket at the front.
The dog looked at me once but winched and hid from my view on seeing my frothing mouth."

lol, Absolutely fantastic write up!

I think we've all been there with the bonking. 23mph average for the first half was a seriously hot pace. Espeshially as you did most of this on your own.

l' homme au velo said...

Joanne is a fine looking Woman would you tell Her that from me.You must be a Horse of a Man, I would be taking a lot of Rests myself on such a Journey.
I have done Cycles that Distance myself but probably a lot longer than the 5 Hours and a bit that you done. I have noticed that on long Trips you consume an awful lot of Water ,perhaps 2 and a Half Litres on such a distance together with Eating oat and Honey Bars for Energy.

Interesting the 80 Year Old with Probably Jack Russell in Basket,you were Struggling to keep up with Her she was going so fast in Order to get away from the Strange Man Foaming at the Mouth.

Dottie said...

Miserable experience, but it makes for a very compelling read! If that helps at all. Glad to hear you're back on the bike. I'm interested in trying a 100 miler one day, but my pace would be much (much) much slower :)

Aron Burton said...

Fantastic blog and write ups! I'm sure we've all been there were the last 20 miles are the longest and hardest 20 miles of your life. Keep up the great blogging