On Sunday I took part in the Verulam Cycling Club Ride for a Reason cycling event in St. Albans. This is organized to coincide with National Bike Week and is the fifth year it has been run. Obviously it is the first year I’ve taken part given we’ve only been living here for two months.
On Friday I’d still not decided whether or not to do the 44 mile route, or attempt the tougher 64 mile version. The latter is not much shorter than the longest ride I’ve ever done. However after signing up for the Ride Around London I figured the longer route would give me a good benchmark of where I was and how much training I’m going to need to plan for before September rolls around.
Turnout was pretty good (I think about 130 people in all) and at 8am when I started pretty much everybody was doing to longest route. The weather, even at that time was very warm, and it was only going to get warmer as the morning went on. For the first 30 miles I felt great and, whilst riding on my own the majority of the time managed an average speed of about 16mph over some undulating terrain (but with no real hills) I felt strong in my legs and powered up most of the bumps I came across. I probably spent more time in the big ring than I’ve done before, holding about 20mph on the flat
However, then the sun really started to take effect and whilst I was drinking lots and taking the odd gel, I did feel my energy levels falling. This, combined with the much hiller second half of the ride slowed me down a lot. At 40 miles I hit the main challenge of the hill coming from Charlton into Preston. Whilst short, it is consistently steep with my Garmin reporting about a 17% gradient in places. Climbing remains my weakest point and I had to stop a couple of times just for a few seconds to let me heart rate go down a bit.
After that was a welcome checkpoint (all three of which were excellently run and given the low entry price of £7 very well stocked!) The run after the checkpoint then involved a few more short but not so sharp hills. I rolled home in 4 hours 17.5 minutes of moving time, averaging 14.9mph. Further gory details from my Garmin are here.
I was certainly impressed with the running of the event, and plan to attend one of the next Verulam CC Sunday runs before probably joining up. All in all this event told me that I’ve got a lot of work to do to make the 115 mile event in September enjoyable and not a long slog! At least the sun should not be so strong. Finally, lesson of the day is to remember to apply sunblock. I’ve got wicked pro-style tan lines!