Meon Valley Riser

As a first sportive of the year it came at a difficult time. I had had an operation a month before which had meant no training for a couple of weeks and in the week following that I had come off the bike and had mangled my face, hand and neck. The only ride in the previous month had been a flat 38 mile easy ride. Probably not the best preparation for the Riser.

The morning was chilly and misty but was predicted to warm up later on so it was difficult to decide what to wear. I ended up with an under armour base layer and a jacket which was probably the right choice as I started off a bit chilly and ended up undoing the jacket in the last 10-15 miles.

I had intended starting towards the front with a few of the guys from tri club but actually ended up starting towards the end of the field with a different couple of the club.

As it panned out it was probably the worst way possible to pace any race! I spent the first hour at pretty much threshold trying to catch up with some of the groups ahead with my peak 60 minute power being from 5 to 65 minutes. I settled down a bit after this time after passing one of the other tri club members who I didn’t know was riding. Having started earlier than me he had ridden with a friend who was riding too slowly for him so rode together for the middle 40 or so miles.

It was the most sensible pace I rode all day chatting about various races and future plans.  We rode at a decent pace but well within limits as the morning wore on. The hills though were beginning to take their toll. As the course profile shows the Riser was well named!

We went up Butser Hill (twice) Portsdown Hill (twice) and Old Winchester Hill to name a few. I hit a gradient of 20% twice over the ride. After riding together for 40 miles Mark dropped me and I suffered to the finish.

The heart rate trace says a lot I think. High Zone 3 or 4 for the first part of the ride but toward the end I didn’t have the strength to raise my heart rate above 130-140 and it ended up being really really hard work.

It was a difficult day no doubt. The wind picked up as we turned South and ended up more than a strong breeze. On some of the more exposed areas it was blowing very strong. It was also my first Sportive on a double rather than a compact crank and I think that made a difference as well. With a 12-25 cassette there were times when i could have definitely done with another gear at times.

On the last hill coming back over Portsdown my legs ground to a halt and I gracefully got off the bike and had to walk the bike up the final hill. Not great and left me feeling not too good.

However on reflection it wasn’t all bad. The organiser had a gold standard of 4:50 but the first finisher rode 4:57 so nobody achieved the initial gold standard! They changed the standards to reflect this meaning I ended up with Bronze. Despite feeling not too good about the ride I was comfortably inside the to half of the finishers.

There are certainly a few lessons to take from this like the pacing and also that Sportives are difficult with no training! Interestingly my Bikescore for the training stress was calculated by Golden Cheetah at 392 – most IM bike rides are around 300. If there is a consolation it is the there are virtually no IM bike legs that will be as difficult as the Riser.

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