Posted by: Emily | October 10, 2010

My 76 miles of Ride 101

One of my first thoughts after finishing the Bike Blenheim Palace ride last weekend was what to do next. Even with the rain, Blenheim had been great and I’d really enjoyed the route. I was keen to find something similar and ideally before the end of the year. When I found out about another sportive, Ride 101, in Oxford the following weekend I was, therefore, immediately interested.

Ride 101 is, as the name suggests, a 101 mile sportive. It starts in Thame and takes in some of the Chilterns, with a shorter route option of just 76 miles. Although I was very tempted to do the full 101 miles, I also liked the idea of doing a quick-ish 76 mile ride on my speedy Scott Contessa CR1 Pro and getting back to London without it taking up the entire day. So that’s precisely what I did.

As I set off this morning and headed up the M40, I had a distinct Groundhog Day feeling. The journey to Thame was almost identical to the one I’d done exactly one week earlier to Blenheim, with one very notable difference – this time it wasn’t pouring with rain!

Arriving at the start, one of my first impressions was that most of the other riders seemed like reasonably serious cyclists. There was also, as there often is at these events, a distinct lack of female representation and I was surrounded by men in lycra. In my non-traditional cycling attire I stood out like only someone in stripy green and pink socks and plaits can.


My Socks

Compared with Blenheim this was a much smaller event with far fewer riders. There was no timing chip or mat to worry about and at 8am we simply set off in groups of 20 at one minute intervals, with the organisers making a note of which riders left at which time.

I started off at a reasonably good pace. I hadn’t seen a route profile, but was expecting at least one or two steepish climbs so wanted to be as fast as possible on the flats. As it turned out, according to my Garmin the shorter route had just over 4,000 ft of ascent. There were two main climbs, both quite close to the start, and the rest of the ride was undulating. It felt like there was an awful lot of downhill, but fortunately (for me) none of it was overly steep.

Ride 101 Profile

As anyone who has cycled with me knows, I’m not great at descending and have a very intimate relationship with my brakes. I was doing ok with the downhills though and even managing to resist the urge to break at all (almost) on some of them. In spite of this ‘progress’, I’d still find myself overtaking people on the ascents only to have them fly right past me on the very next descent. Clearly there’s a lot more work to be done on my downhill technique!

Despite some less than ideal road conditions, the route was fantastic and lent itself very well to a fast pace – especially with the dry weather. The first two thirds of the ride were, however, very windy which slowed things down somewhat. For the most part I was cycling completely alone without even another cyclist in sight. As I struggled through the wind, on more than one occasion I thought how nice it would have been to be able to ride with someone and take turns in getting some respite. Given the choice though I’d willingly take wind over rain any day and after 50 miles or so it started getting warmer, sunnier and the wind all but disappeared completely.

Unfortunately, by this point I’d started to develop some pain in my lower back and was beginning to wish I’d brought pain killers with me. My last 20 miles were slower than I would have liked and were interspersed with stops to try and stretch out my back. I don’t know what my official time will be, but according to my Garmin I finished in 04:54 with an average moving speed of 15.6 mph. Due to ongoing tech issues with my Garmin, my heart rate stats are once again meaningless, unless it’s really true that for the last 15 miles my heart rate was under 100 bpm for 80% of the time.

Ride 101, or 76 in my case, was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and well worth the drive up from London. Once again though I’m left asking myself the question What next?


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