Saturday morning and the alarm clock went off at 5:45 a.m. Not really what I had in mind but we were off to do a long day on the bike, south of Edinburgh, starting in Lasswade near Bonnyrigg.
The Bethany Sportive, according to John, was 'a bit lumpy'. Lorna had a few other descriptions for it but this is a family blog so I'll just say she reckoned it was a little on the tough side!
We got there early, registered and met up with the rest of the ATHelite team. We knew the weather was going to worsen as the day wore on so ensured we were one of the first teams out. It was brilliant working as a chain gang and we were keeping up a great pace as we flew through the valley. Then 'pop', 'hisssssss', and 'puncture, pull over' were heard from the front of our peloton...
It was a sound we'd here again, several times during the day, and they all happened to John! Four punctures and one exploding inner tube later and it was game over. Thankfully on sportive events there are support cars roaming the route and John and his infamous Continental Supersonic GP tyre were loaded up and ferried back to the finish line.
To be honest, at that point in the race I could quite happily have got a lift home. I've decided that hills don't like me and after 2000m of climbing I was pretty ready to throw in the towel. I'd fuelled pretty well during the day and had worked well with the rest of the gang to keep the pace going but every time I hit a hill the rest of the team disappeared into the distance. After several one-man time trial efforts I'd then catch them up, put in a stint at the front of the group then drop off again as the hill turned skywards!
At one food stop I left early as I knew they'd be the fox to my hare and sure enough after 10-15 mins they caught and passed me, on yet another hill. I have to say a big thank you to all the volunteers, especially for their home baking. The chocolate brownies on the course were amazing!!!
I was keeping a close eye on my Powermeter and I was looking at well over 250+W whenever the tarmac began to rise. I'm hoping to put down a constant 200W for the Outlaw which seems a bit easier than the constant interval session on the sawtooth shaped landscape of the border hills.
The weather we were expecting arrived and the rain began to fall more heavily and the wind picked up, so much so that I was pushing 250W pedalling downhill into a headwind on the final 20 miles of the route in an attempt to get to the finish line ASAP. I downed half a bottle of water and within a few minutes started to full human again - I suspect I was dehydrated, even though I wasn't at all thirsty, and by that stage had drunk probably 2.4 litres of water during the ride.
I also discovered that spinning in the little ring at 90 rpm (~140W) versus the big ring at 90 rpm (~220W) didn't really put any additional strain on the CV system, but meant I was going noticeably quicker.
Eventually, after 6 hours and 31 minutes of cycling, I crossed the finish line, notching up another century ride.
Lorna and I were supposed to do a 10km run after the bike and as she wheeled in as I put the bike in the car I could tell (thankfully) that we wouldn't be doing one! It was absolutely bouncing down at this stage so we opted to get dried off and have coffee and cake with the rest of the ATHelite team!
So, whilst this was a really tough event, there were several positives to take out of the day. Another great social event for the ATHelite team, another good training ride and ideas on how to improve my performance in the longer events. Those hills may have won the battle but they've yet to defeat me!