Action Medical Research Peterborough 100
Today I rode in my first ever Sportive, the slightly mis-named, 106 mile Action Medical Research Peterborough 100. It starts just over the road from me, at the Peterborough Marriott Hotel. I turned up to register at 0630, then popped back home to get my bike. I wanted to be in the first starting group, because the wind was forecast to get stronger through the day. I figured the earlier I started, the earlier I’d finish. But I was slightly late and after a short safety briefing, set off in the second bunch at about 0710. As a Sportive novice, and never having ridden close to 106 miles before, I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought that people would form groups, but it didn’t really seem to happen like that. I fell in with one other rider after around 8 miles, and we stuck together until around the 80 mile mark. To my shame, I never found out his name. Beautiful bike, though. Pinarello Dogma 60.1, Zipp 404 wheels, Dura Ace Di2 electronic groupset, largely as ridden by Sir Bradley. Worth substantially more than my car.
I’d set myself the target to try and finish in under 7 hours. This requires an average speed of 15.14mph, which doesn’t sound much. But it’s worth remembering that’s elapsed time, so that would have to include any stops. As it was, I stopped at every feed station and the lunch stop, for a pee and to re-fill my water bottles at least. 5 minutes stopped does not do the average speed any good at all. I’d set my garmin to keep running even when I stopped, so I would be able to see my elapsed time and average speed.
It’s a hilly course, far lumpier than I would normally ride. Part of the course is on the roads I ride regularly, but there are some proper climbs out Oakham-way. The Garmin recorded 5,147 feet of climbing, which is consistent with the other riders whose Strava uploads I’ve seen this afternoon. I felt good the whole way round, really. It wasn’t too much more of a stretch compared to my normal rides. The worst part was the wind. It was forecast to rise to force 6 by 1300, and I think it did. Luckily we didn’t have to ride into the teeth of it for too many of the miles, but it still affects you significantly even when it’s coming at you from an angle. My friend with the Wiggins bike was struggling with the sidewinds on his deep-section wheels. Sometimes the wind was so strong that it lifted the helmet off my head. I just got down on the drops and tried to grind it out.
At the 80 mile mark, our average speed had dropped to just below what was required for a 7 hour finish. This was due primarily to the wind, and stopping for longer than I had allowed for. So I had to tell my companion that I needed to turn up the wick significantly, and stop only fleetingly at the last feed station. I think he was tiring at that point, and wanted to call his Dad at the last stop, so we parted company. Hope we meet again, he’s a strong rider, especially on the flat. By the time I’d reached the last stop I had got back onto the necessary pace. I knew at that point that I’d make it in time, barring a mechanical failure. Only 16 miles remained, and all on roads I know well, and I had an hour in hand. I also knew that I’d be in the face of the wind for around 6 of the remaining miles, so I needed to make hay at other times. The proximity to the finish gave me a good boost and I romped (well, ok, I didn’t romp, but I did feel good) home in 6 hours 51 minutes and 44 seconds.
I must thank Action Medical Research for the organisation. I’ve ridden with people locally who grumble about the cost of this ride, but the money goes to a very worthwhile charity and, even forgetting that, it seemed good value to me. I hope to be back next year!
Here’s a link to my Strava upload.