Southdowns 100 – Square Wheels


I often get the feeling that many people who know me think that cycling comes easy and that I don’t have to put any effort in – so in an effort to persuade you otherwise I refer you to the photo above! Absolutely destroyed. It was taken just after crossing the line after the 103.33 miles of the Southdowns 100 last Sunday.¬† What I have realised this week is that if I want to feel like I can ride like a pro (or at least, ahem, attempt to push myself extremely hard) then I need to rest like a pro. I didn’t have any easy days on the bike leading up to this ride and the night before it was well gone midnight when I finally got to bed. About four hours of fitful sleep later I got up to drive to Chichester. Not exactly archetypal preparation! Carrying a couple of injuries and the dregs of a cold and I am pleased to have survived what was a pretty challenging course. Distance I can do – elevation is much tougher. If you ever wonder why races like the Tour de France are so often decided in the mountains, just go riding somewhere extremely hilly with riders of mixed ability and see how soon they are scattered. Of course,this was a sportive, and not a true race, but I was intent on seeing just what I could do, whatever happened. Whilst others took advantage of the feed stations for a rest and a scoff I wanted to try the full distance without a break. I only stopped at the final feed station to refill my bidons (water bottles) and stick a few jaffa cakes in my jersey pocket. It was too cold to stand around anyway so I got on my way.

I had spent the first 50miles or so riding with a pretty fast bunch, but the benefits of being able to take turns sitting on the rear wheel of a front rider are all too apparent. I pretty much rode the second 50miles alone and it really took its toll as I endeavoured to maintain a constant cadence¬† and high average speed. It soon just became a battle between my body and my brain. I’m pleased to say my brain won, but my body has been paying the cost the last few days. I’m actually taking about 5 days off the bike, the most since August, and for once am enjoying the rest. Physio yesterday put the muscles in my legs back to their correct places and lazing around on the sofa (a very rare treat!) seems to be paying off. All this doing nothing is knackering though! I just want to sleep all the time.

The bike didn’t fare much better. The roads were regularly scattered with debris – rocks and branches – or covered in slimy silt due to the previous days’ rain. We also passed through two flooded roads where the water rose to nearly a foot. In testament to the wheel building skills of my favourite mechanic (Pete from London Bicycle Workshop) I didn’t even realise that my wheels were truly destroyed until I rode the bike again on Tuesday. Rear hub ruined and massive dents in both rims front and back. Had they been new they might have survived, but as Pete went about putting new ones together for me we worked out that the last set had probably covered about 20,000 miles in the last 2 and a bit years. Not bad for going for a Cycling Pianist.

Route and more details below should you fancy seeing some more stats and things. Pete’s comment about my new top speed (50.3mph) nicely summed things up: “You are not afraid of death, are you!”


One Response

  1. Mum

    Don’t know how you managed it! Mad, but well done! Love Mum

    November 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

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