Sunday, 7 June 2015

Mermaid (and I!) clock up our third ever "century" on the Tour de Vale

StravistiX analysis of my HRM data for the Tour de Vale.
A good part of the Zone 1 bar is the slow "warm-down" I did after the event

Strava's "official" printout - I reached a new peak Heart Rate for cycling (of 174 bpm).
You can see the slow warm-down very clearly on the Heart Rate trace!
There was some waiting about during rider registration at the start,
as well as medal and certificate collection at the end.
My official finishing time (for the 100 km course) was 5 hrs, 22 mins and 55 seconds.
More to follow, after I have had a good rest!

The organisers have a facebook page where you can see some of the folks taking part, including some of the disabled "handbikes" some riders used for the event.
There is also an official list of "finishers" here, but the times for the 25km, 60km, and 100km routes are all mixed intogether, so don't assume the quickest (or slowest!) are doing a particular distance!

Update: some pics from the ride - I started off with Anna's camera in my basket, but it malfunctioned just after Chesham. Later I started using my smartphone for some more pics (but they are likely to be not as good, because the "proper" camera takes much better pics than a cheap smartphone!

Anyway, here are the pics from "home" to Chesham!
Me, all kitted up for the ride.
I planned a "no-stop" strategy, so I am carrying 4 litres of water, plus various foodstuffs, and tools etc. etc.
Naturally, I am wearing my trademark jeans and check shirt.
Note the prominent first-aid kit attached to the top of my rear carrier
- I'd hate to bleed to death just because someone can't find my first-aid kit!
Also ready for use to help other folks!

Buckingham Bikes (our LBS) had a stall for any last minute repairs before the event.
I daren't show them Mermaid, they'll have a laughing fit or a heart attack, or both :-)

Waiting for the start - the blue arch is the actually "start".
The rider numbers have "timing chips" in them, that activate as we go through the arch.
Very classy.
I seem to be the only one with significant luggage (mine weighs 11kg, all up for two panniers and the basket).
I am riding "super tourist" style, but almost everyone else seems to be in "cycle" kit, and riding "road".
I may have had both the cheapest AND the heaviest bike for the 100km!
Just before we started the announcer asked all thouse who had done a 100km before to raise their hands - not many of us put their hands up ...

This pic is from the Wheelpower's Facebook postings.
Sorry, I don't know the photographer, but they appear to have "donated" the pic for Wheelpower's use.
(please contact me for a photo credit, or if you think I shouldn't use the pic)
Who's that near the back in the stylish shirt and hi-viz jacket?
I'm about to pass through the arch - my rider number has a "timing chip" in it, and my "time" starts when I pass through the arch, and ends when I pass back through at the end of the 100km.
And we're off!
From the arch and down the lane at the back of the stadium ...

Heading out of town

Iirc, this is the section between Weston Turville and Wendover.
All the others seem to be leaving me behind ...

Well, I can't keep this pace up all day - better slow down a bit to save my strength for the hills!
I had a stratefy of trying to keep below 135 bpm except for the hills.
(that's about 77% of my "cycling" Maximum Heart Rate, or about 70% of my Hear Rate Reserve)

This Waitrose van was determined to get in front of me, only to be held up by a large pack of riders just as the route got twisty ...

Belting along, and I'm actually catching someone up near the airforce base in Halton ...

Grinning like a fool - but there is a lot of course left ...

The short, sharp, hill just after Halton takes its toll - my HR went higher than this (much higher!)
but I was too busy pedalling to take pics

Too blurry for you to read the sign, but it says something along the lines of "Welcome to Wendover Woods".
There is about 100m of climbing coming up ...

And I'm starting to move off the back of the field - this is a "walker" stopping on the main hill up through the woods.
I have already passed another "walker" on the short, sharp, first section up to the golf course.
That first bit is about a 13% grade, and is the "toughest" section of the course
(but, of course, the later hills "feel" harder, because folks are tired!)

Approaching the summit in Wendover Woods.
The highest point of the Chilterns is a short distance away from the road.
We have climbed about 170m since we started at the Stadium.
I made up some more places, because there were a group of riders recovering and having a drink near the cafe.

Heading towards Chesham, and I tag along behind the guy in white and the lady in the red BHF top.

Yep, still tagging along, but not exactly "half-wheeling".
Iirc, they pulled into the water stop after Chesham, and passed me again later on,
then I didn't see them after that.
Of course, I moved up about another 50 places at the water stop, as I was travelling
"fully loaded", but some of the riders re-passed me later on,
but not all of them (tee hee!)

That's not a tall building at the back - it is houses on a steep hill.
Chesham is a sort of "split-level" town, with some houses at the bottom of the hill, and some at the top,
and some on the way up/down.
Actually, Chesham lies in a valley, so the route took us down one side, then out of Chesham and up through the hills on the other side ...
And, after that, there was the water stop (I, of course, cycled on, rather than stopping). then I got the camera out to take a few more pics, and the camera malfunctioned :-(
Good job I took my (rather low-res) smartphone, too!
Now the smartphone pics:

After Tom's Hill, where I cycled past another
"walker" - this one with the distinctive tap-tap
of cleats on their shoes.
I own neither cleats or the pedals to match!

Approaching Ivinghoe Beacon - about the
half-way point. A long, slow, hill up, and a
nice hill down from where the road turns left
(at the start of the wide chalk path),

Take off about 4 km and abour 20 minutes (my house to the start), and the watch says I am
have done about 52 km (of the 100) in about 2 hrs 40mins. I finished the 100km in
5 hrs 22 mins and 55 seconds ("official" finish time), so my speed held up pretty well for the event.
There were more hills in the first half, but of course one is more tired in the second half!
Heart rate is down to 101 bpm, so I am freewheeling down the hill towards Ivinghoe Aston at this point.

I seem to have the hill to myself :-)
There is a water stop a few miles back, and
I guess a lot of folks stopped there!

Down, down, down. I am more of a "downhill" cyclist than an "uphill" one. Still heading towards Ivinghoe Aston

The first half of the course had quite a bit of shade from trees as we picked our way round wooded lanes,
but from Ivinghoe Beacon onwards, there is little shade - it is just the riders and the Sun.

There may be trouble ahead ...

Looks like a puncture. Maybe my
ridiculously heavy Schwalbe
Marathon Plus tyres don't seem so
heavy now!

"platform" pedals, trainers (sneakers), and jeans.
of course you don't need a fancy bike and
fancy kit to ride a "century"!

Basket is handy for keeping my water bottles in.
I seem to be catching a few folks up.

Rest and water stop. I made up a buch of places here, as I had a "no-stop" strategy, carrying the whole 4 litres of water I had caluclated for the ride, as well as food and tools.

Coming into Wing

Nearly 70 km done (don't forget to knock off
the 4 km from my house to the Start).
Heart rate is on target (target was about 135 bpm)

The 100km route joins the 60 km route after the
water stop at Mentmore (go back about 2 pictures!).
So I am not sure if these folks behind me are from
the 100km route like me, or whether they are
"stragglers" from the 60 km route.

Enjoying the momentary shade of an occassional
tree. I have my shirt partly unbuttoned due to the heat,
but I'm still smiling :-)

Through the Buckinghamshire countryside. Not much tree cover on this part of the route!

One of several small villges we went through. I think this one is Cublington.

Fairly flat, but under the lunchtime Sun.

It is a little after 1 pm, and I have about 80 km done
Just 20 km left. I have been riding for about 4 1/4 hrs
by now. Heart rate is up a bit - time to slow down and
pace myself - there are a couple of modest hills
still to go.

By the direction of the Sun, I think this must be
approaching North Marston.

Crossing the railway tracks as we approach the A41 near Waddesdon. the line is only used for freight trains now, but there is talk of re-opening an Oxford-Aylesbury-Milton Keynes passenger route. Most of the track is in place, but a few extra curves need to be added, and the signalling and control systems would need updating.

Approaching the "old" gate just West of Waddesdon.
I have caught up the four "Le Jog" riders. They overtook me three or four times during the 100 km,
so I guess they had a "sprint and drink" strategy employing all of the water stops,
while I carried all my water and had a "plod, and keep plodding" strategy.

After the A41 crossing, we are approaching the hill to Upper Winchendon. We have just passed a water stop, so there are lots of riders overtaking me, many of them not for the first time (I, of course, didn't stop). That "Sky" rider is one of those who has been past me a few times. I guess he is another "sprint and drink" cyclist.
The most annoying bit was where two folks shot past me at the start of the hill, only to stop right in front of me and get off and start pushing, forcing me to swerve round them, as I pedalled relentlessly onwards.

Top of the hill, and left into the park :-)
Time to relax.

About 90 km done in about 4 hrs 42 mins.
Heart rate is 133 - pretty much spot on target (135)

A nice downhill in Eythrope Park - private land with no cars, lovely!

Almost there- going down the side lane behind the Stadium in Aylesbury,
just behind the "Le Jog" boys.

They think it's all over ...
(the finish is the blue arch in the background)
After they overtook me 4 or more times, I finished pretty much level with the "Le Jog" boys.
They looked like they had 20 years on me, and at least 15kg on the weight of the bikes!
But we still finished about the same.
Youth and bikes count for maybe about a quarter of the result, but the rest is down to training :-)

... it is now!
the final "scores"
My watch includes the time (and distance) from my house to the start, as well as any GPS error in my measured distance.
The Garmin site tells me that the official route (which I got "electronically" from the organisers beforehand) was 101.25 km, yet my waqtch has recorded about 103 km (once the 4 km from home to start has been allowed for).
On the time, because the riders numbers had electronic chips attached to them, we got "official" times - mine was about 22 minutes less than the watch time (which included cycling from my house to the start, and waiting to go through the starting "arch").

Queueing for my "Finisher" certificate

A nice touch - the certificate printer was
powered by a bicycle-generator!

Finishers get a nice METAL medal - everyone agrees it is classier than the London to Brighton medal I got last year!

The sun is still shining, although I prefer overcast
for distance riding ...

Buckingham Bikes (our LBS) still doing repairs - this time to bikes at the end of the event.

Folks relaxing after the ride. There will be a BBQ and social event in a few hours, but I'm off home for a sit down.

A slow "warm down" ride home, and I have
clocked up a total for the day of just over 115 km
(not entirely unconnected with Strava's "June
Gran Fondo target of 115km!).

Getting changed at home, and it appears that a bird pooped
on my jeans during the event !
Must have been lucky for me, because I got home safe and sound!

"Official" download of my time from the timing co-ordinators. Time was measured as we went through the blue arch at the start and at the finish, so it didn't matter if you started at 9 am or at 9:10 (like me!) - the rider's "official" time started as he/she went through the arch. Very hi-tech :-)
Tbh, the same technology is used for the big marathons and stuff like that, and this event did start at the "Birthplace of the Paralympics! - Stoke Mandeville, so the organisers would have been quite familiar with such technology.
As for my time - although I might have been a bit faster if it hadn't been quite so sunny, I still finished a WHOLE HOUR faster than the "test ride" I did 4 weeks earlier over the same route. I certainly paced myself better this time - I faded VERY badly after about 60 km on the "test", so keeping my heart rate down to about 135 bpm except on hills seems to have been a good strategy for me. The "test ride" also allowed me to gauge how much effort each hill would cost me, and how much I needed to save for the later sections. After the last hill, I actually speeded up a bit to use up my remaining reserves of strength.
Who know, next year I may have another go.
But first, I have the London to Brighton (86 km, but the biggest hill is near the end!) in a couple of weeks.
Judging by my Tour de Vale performance, I will be looking to do the London to Brighton in under about 5 hours ...

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