Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Tour de Vale 2016 - a slightly late write-up

With a finisher's medal.
You can clearly see the "ghetto aero" on my helmet!
Rode the local charity Tour de Vale again, about a month ago. The pic below is an "official" one from WheelPower, the organisers (they do disabled sports, and are based at the home of the Paralympics - Stoke Mandeville)/ The rest of the pics are mine.
About 2000 folks take part every year, and there is a 25km, 60km and 100km route. Of course I signed up for the 100km.
The routes overlap during the latter part of the event, so I am coming up behind a pair of slower riders doing a shorter route in the pic. I spent much of the time in a full "aero" crouch, but I am sitting up in the pic, using wind drag to help strip off excess speed before a 90 degree right-had corner (I spotted the photographer at the time, lying on the grass, and he was on the corner because he knew we would all be slowing down.
So how did I do?
Well, I was about half-way down the field. The fastest were just over an hour quicker than me. the slowest were several hours behind. Indeed, I was a WHOLE hour quicker than last year.
Me (in white) in an official event picture from WheelPower
Not to shabby for a bloke of 51 :-)
2016 finisher's certificate
2015 finisher's certificate
But to get it into perspective, I was drafting a big chap about halfway round, then when we got to a hill, his weight counted against him, and I pulled alongside.
We got chatting, and I said he was going well on the flat, and it was a bit of a push keeping up with him ... and he said ... his doctor had told him to take it easy after his heart attack last year. His pulse was 118 on the hill (beta blockers, he said), mine was 150 ... my golly, that chap must have been fit beforehand!
If you do Strava, the ride is here:
tbh, I wasn't that fit, having had some issues that affected my training at Easter. Christmas to Easter went great, but I finished Easter exhausted and (mildly) ill.
Applied my science background, and went for marginal gains instead. I worked a lot on my aero (I was one of only a few riders wearing shoe covers), and I had the bike stripped of any surplus parts. I was using "pro" training software (training Peaks) to optimise my available time and "tapering". Even based my water bottle loading on the temperature of the day, so I wasn't carrying the spare weight of unused water.
I was actually fitter last year, but this time I was more scientific, and it showed.
There is a guy near me who rides a lot more miles than me, and has a bike 10 times as dear as mine (he has all carbon), and yet he finished just 2 1/2 minutes in front of me, setting his own personal best for the route at the same time.
I beat his "last year's" time with the bike I ride to work on every day, and go shopping on with Anna :-) I have 35mm puncture proof tyres. My wheels and tyres weigh about half the weight of his complete bike!
He's a touch younger than me, has about a 5 kilo advantage in bike weight, but I was using the power of Science ;-)
Next year, I could be looking at more minor improvements, and I'll be faster again- and hopefully a bit fitter and lighter, too!
(I was about 10kg lighter this year than last, and I could do with shifting another 10 kilos. So I'm getting there, a bit at a time.)

About to leave home to cycle to the start.
As a "value" rider, I am wearing a pair of low-cost padded cycle trousers from a well-known German supermarket chain,
overshoes, helmet and gloves form the same source, plus an "old stock" genuine cycle cap picked up online for about a third of the full retail price.
The bike, although new, was priced at under $400 (!), and has had the wheels, tyres, gears and bars from my previous bike (Mermaid) swapped onto it.
as shown, the bike weighs about 14kg, excluding food and water (and the little toolback tucked out of sight behind the saddle), but than includes a 2500g wheelset, and 1800g for a pair of 35mm Marathon Plus tyres !

"Ghetto" aero on my helmet. Peaked caps work so much better than dark glasses in bright sunlight, too.
(Although my glasses do have "reactive" lenses)

Provisions for the 4 to 5 hour ride time I am expecting.
Apologies to the purists, but those are a pair of WELL oversize bottles!
Plain water in the rear, with a sugar drink in the front, with a dash of salt added.
The little bag on the top tube has a couple of bananas on one side,
and some dates, small tomatoes, and buttered brioche pieces on the other

"Secret Weapons" :-)
A pair of bar ends set up as short aero bars, a triathlon watch on my wrist (and hrm belt under my vest!), and my wife has altered the bottom of the sleeve and the cuff of my jersey to make it fit tighter (and more aerodynamically!)
I moved the watch to the bars just before the start of the event, but had it on my wrist before that - I don't like to leave stuff like that unattended if I have to pop to the washroom, or whatever.

the big blue arch has the chip timing sensors in it - it hald defalted as my group of starters were just going through.
All good fun :-)

The local cycle club were out in force. Their wheels cost more than my bike!

Registration tent. Fairly well organised, as always.

My bike, Hoppy, waits by a post while I have nipped off somewhere urgent ...
AS you can see, I am travelling fairly light this year, given that I had a "no-stops" strategy again.
Food is in the little bag on the bars, with a "timing splits" sheet in the top, showing me how quickly I need to get to certain points (often the top or bottom of a big hill!) to match my "training" time.
"Timing Splits" are a bit Old School, compared with "virtual pacer" features on modern GPS units, but are still brutally effective. Just make the writing big enough to read!
One of my water bottles (yes, they are VERY oversize) is just water, the other is my sugar drink.
Got a can's-worth of Red Bull in a plastic hip flask in my back pocket, to give me a bit of a boost for the second half of the event.
The small pouch begind the saddle has a minitool and a can of tyre repair spray. But hey, I'm running Marathon Plus tyres (yes really - all 900g each of them!), so I'm not expecting punctures.
Hoppy is down to about 14kg, plus water bottles and pouches in the pic, but more than 4 kilos of that is wheels and tyres!

And they're off.
As I had decided I was not a "Club" rider, I was allocated to the second set of starting groups.
I think some of those that started in fromt of me overstated their prowess, however ;-)

There were a few "handbikes" taking part, too.
Given that this is the "Birthplace of the Paralympics", it is only right and proper for handbikes to be included.

Finished already!
No, not really.
The same timing arch does double duty as both the start line AND the finish line.

Me at the start (on the left), pretending I'm not taking a selfie :-)
That nice neat haircut saved 33g of my "race weight"!

And I'm done. The other 7km is the distance to the start from my home, and that is also why my "official" time was 15 minutes less than that shown on the watch.
I think my Garmin 310XT (with HRM) is one of the best value purchases I have made.

The local bike shop (one of the event's sponsors) is on hand again to fix bikes up ready for the trip home.
Hoppy was as faultless as Mermaid was last year, so no repairs for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment