Monday, 28 August 2017

Bristol to Exminster. Again.

So today was a long shift, Bristol to Exminster. A 6.00 am start due to a light morning and good weather, which in turn turned into a mini heat wave.  I was in bed by 8.30pm on Saturday evening after stopping over at Mum and Dads.

I woke up with a head-ache, a strange nagging viral headache which I have had for about a week. I do not feel ill, but oddly, as soon as you ride you realise that your HR is elevated and your power zones are thrown slightly out. But, I decided to press on and hopefully ride it out as they say. In the end 97.4 miles with a 'moving time' of 6 hours 5 mins.

The actual ride was a massive success with huge dividends made on the last ride back in April. Two things were at play here. One being '6' months fitter than in April and actually being on my Dogma F8 / Spin 45 combo over the Madone 9 / zipp combo. The Madone was beautiful, fast and efficient but I felt very nervous on it when shod with Zipp's when the road pointed down. Testament to this is the fastest I descended in April was 30 mph where as today I hit 44 mph no problem. The F8 out descends anything I have ridden up to date my hand built spin wheels ride with incredible assurance and they handle beautifully. No wobble, no issues, just stiff, fast, light and strong. Great wheels give you the confidence to drop at speed. My Vittoria tyres are just sublime too.

Timing (not moving) were as follows -

10 miles 39.38

20 miles 1.16

30 miles 1.51

40 miles 2.32

50 miles 3.14

60 miles 3.56

70 miles 5.03

80 miles 5.33

90 miles 6.19

Aprils times were as follows -

10 miles 42.14

20 miles 1.22

30 miles 2.01

40 miles 2.52

50 miles 3.39

60 miles 4.21

70 miles 5.45

80 miles 6.40

90 miles 7.28

Certainly some marginal to big gains made. I have certainly nailed a faster 40 miles in Devon, but factor in traffic lights leaving Bristol and things add up. My route takes me through the centre of Bristol and the reprobates were out all heading home from Night clubs as I rode by. You have to laugh. You would have thought it was the middle of the day. Looking at 60 - 80 mile timings, the overall timing difference are borne out of two things, fitness and common sense in using the A30 out of Chard rather than going 'across country'. The Yarcombe climb is a massive ball ache, two 900 feet climbs but the beauty of it is the fast descent into the back end of Honiton. It is a very high road at the top of the Blackdown Hills and an easterly wind chopped about, looking down to my right reveals the Otter Valley, not great when you get occasional vertigo on a bike, but I beavered (clever - Ed) away and descended well with bank holiday traffic not too bad overall. I also rode smart by hopping straight back onto the A30 leaving Honiton and time trialled to the Ottery exit rather than ride halfway to Sidmouth via the huge climb I call Tesco hill. There is no doubt that arriving in East Devon via Chard is a big ask in bike riding terms as the ride takes on a different dynamic if you are an average climber 70 miles into a long solo ride but to my mind, it is the best route. Riding across to Taunton and around the top and on to Tivvy is cheating, but I think I will do that next to test the actual mileage.

In reference to power output, my aforementioned headache had things slightly skewed and I felt like I rode in a zone higher than I would have, but data as follows. Oddly the bulk was in zone 1 which I can only assume was when the pedals were not turning. Zone 2 ideal on a long ride. One caveat to note is that historically, I always find portions of a long ride when I zone out and today the strange thing about hitting the Somerset levels south of Cheddar is that it is effectively so flat and unrewarding that you actually lose speed an thus time rather than gain it as I suppose the beauty of hilly terrain is what goes up etc. Flat riding unless TT'ing can now be a bit mundane though riding two or three up may be better. I think that being a good endurance rider is not about riding as fast as f**k everywhere you go, but learning to moderate the ride and make the power count. The turtle and the hare stuff.  I was, by my own admittance a bit boom or bust today, but that was due to my head and simply wanting to attain a better time. Staying in zone 2 where possible requires massive discipline. Credit to the serious long haul riders out there. If you do not know power understand that you can ride all day in the right zone with nutrition. Clever stuff. On the subject of nutrition, I had 2 bananas, 1 energy bar, 4 slices of pre-cut malt loaf, 5 energy gels and 6 bottles of water at 800ml. Nice !

Overall, it was a great ride. The Dogma is great, the only caveat I level is that is really is a super stiff bike and a couple of days off the bike required. It certainly sends more feedback into the rider than the Madone did. Sportive / endurance bikes likely a better bet than this this style of frame, but then they don't get the work done when it matters.  I would like to try something like a Canyon or a new Synapse on this route, but to be frank, I am not binning my 'fast' bike for two or three rides a year. I felt a little more 'beat' than I expected, but I set off in overshoes, knee warmers and a long sleeve base layer and in reality I could have lost them by 8.30 am such was the warmth - after 90 miles I was a cooked goose with white marks mirroring the shape of my sunglasses and my lips dryer than a Nuns front garden.

Anyway, job done. 2017 is all about 2018 now. Cheers.

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