Staffs to Snowdon Update: My 100 Mile Review

It has been a long winter in the saddle and I have not posted on here for ages so here is an update of how things are going.

I set myself a target distance of 100km (60 miles) a week and have hit it most weeks since the new year. I have missed a few, but overall allowing 100km a week I am on track for my 2017 goal of 5200km (3250 miles).

Fitness wise I still get worn out and my heart monitor beeps at me most rides telling my heart rate is to high. However my average speed has increased from about 17kph to 23kph which can only mean that I am getting fitter.

Last Tuesday I set out to ride 100 miles (161km) in a single ride. This is a bit of a landmark target among cyclists, and a goal that this time last year I had never even considered achieving. So on Tuesday Anne took the boys to school and was on standby to come and rescue me if I had any issues.

I set off with the intention of getting to Bakewell in the Peak District. Why Bakewell, for a piece of Bakewell tart of course. It is amazing that it is the silliest of things that inspire me to ride these distances.

I started at  8:18 and headed on the road to Uttoxeter, my planned route was:

  • Rugeley to Uttoxeter – 1 hour
  • Utoxeter to Ashbourne – 1 hour
  • Ashbourne to Bakewell – 1 hour
  • Bakewell to the end of the Monsal Trail – 1 hour
  • Monsal Trail to The High Peak Trail – time ???
  • High Peak to Ashbourne via the Tissington Trail
  • Ashbourne back to Rugeley
I reached Bakewell in under 3 hours and was on track. From there I new the end of the Monsal Trail would take me to my furthest point away from Rugeley, and having ridden 101km (60 miles) before I knew I had got that distance in me. So near Buxton after 82km (51 miles) my thoughts turned to heading home. The question was how far could I go before my body gave up. At this point I was feeling good but became aware that my short rests where taking longer.
The Tissington Trail was as nice as I thought it would be. From the minute I started heading South the trails were all mostly rolling with me so pedaling felt easy, especially after the gentle uphill gradient of the Monsal Trail.
The end of the trail and a cafe just outside Ashbourne, and I did not need any excuse not to stop for a coffee and a Flapjack. Back on the bike for what turned out to be the worst section of the ride. Worst section for road choice and hills with a flagging energy supply.
I was 115km in and heading towards the hill on the A515 heading out of Ashbourne. I just did not have any power left in my legs, I was not tired and could sustain my average speed of about 22km, but on the hills I just had to get off and walk.
There are 3 hills on that piece of road that I know I could ride up, however on that day after that distance I walked them all. Once I crested the last major hill it was back on the bike as my next concern was the fading light and how long would my lights last.
As I rolled into Rugeley I had run of of water, gels, snacks and energy. The hills that defeated me are etched into my mind, but the feeling of success was growing. I though I would be a bit short of the 100 miles so I added a few longer bits on as I got ever nearer home, knowing if I pressed the ‘end ride’ button on my Garmin to be told I was 1 mile short would have been a greater pain than the one in my legs.
As I got closer to home and patted myself on the back for riding 100 miles I also started to think of how the ride had gone. What worked, what needs improving, how I can improve, how far can I actually go. 
I did this ride on very little sleep, bad nutrition, 2 litres of fluid and a number of other silly mistakes that I already know not to do. So as long as I can iron out the creases and do it right the next big ride should be better.
The ride including stops was 9 hours and 19 minutes of which 7 hours 34 minutes was riding. I had a total ascent of 1,637 metres (5370 feet), and the final distance was 164km (102 miles).
So what is next?
On April 22nd I have a 200km event up near Scotland in the Kielder Forest. Between now and then I am going to focus on improving my hill climbing ability. I may also be doing a couple of shorter events and probably doing another big ride towards and into Wales for some Welsh cakes.

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