Thursday, 12 June 2014

Ride Report: Slaying The Dragon Devil

Sometimes it's good to hurt a little... During interval training my legs hurt from the lactic, during time trials my lungs and throat hurt from the heavy breathing, during really hard efforts I can even make my head hurt from the blood rush. On Sunday though, I think it was the first time that I have hurt everywhere, from my feet to my forehead, I think I experienced some kind of pain in all areas of my anatomy during the 11 hours that I spent in the saddle. The weird thing is... it was one of the best days I've ever had on a bike.

I wrote a post on the Wiggle Blog (Link) a few days ago talking about the numbers from the Wiggle Dragon Ride, but in case you missed it, here are a few of the stats:

  • 303 Km (187 miles)
  • 5,061 meters (16,604 feet) of climbing
  • 28.1Kph (17.46mph) average speed
  • 10hrs 46mins riding time
  • 216 watts average weighted power
  • 7,973 calories
It was one long day on the bike, I went through some big highs and some deep lows, but overall the 11 hours of elapsed time that I spent ascending and descending the mountains of South Wales was a great time on the bike.

Crossing the line at 7am, things started out quickly; a fast escape from Port Talbot and then straight up into the mountains. I had told myself that I shouldn't go out too fast, but I was happily holding a 30Kph average, and was jumping between some good groups of riders, chatting along the way.

The first big climb started to string the field out, and at the top the views over the mountain were stunning. Dry weather in Wales is something that I haven't experienced before, and not only was it making the riding far more enjoyable, it meant the clear views of the vistas and mountains was tremendous.

In fact, as the day went on things really started to heat up, with the temperature going up to around 18'C (hot by Welsh standards) and on the climbs it was quite toasty, when the strong wind wasn't cooling things down. That brought forward the problem of drinking. Powerbar Isotonic started to be consumed in significant quantities at the feed stations.

The day went on and I was loving the long climbs and the long descents. Mountains are definitely my home. The brutal climbs of the Devil's Elbow, with its 20% gradients; the long arduous climb of the Rhigos, and the stunning valley and vicious kick of the Devil's staircase. It was superb.

Things were going well in terms of numbers as well, I was holding a steady 30kph average, and heading for a sub 10 hour time as a result. That was up until hour eight... then things started to suddenly become rather tough.

It turns out that Powerbar energy drink does not agree with me, especially so when I have to climb Black Mountain (a second category climb); stomach cramps, leg cramps, headache and heavy sweating meant I was crawling up that climb like a snail. Averages came tumbling down, and that period between 230km and 270km was without doubt one of the worst times I've had on a bike.

It wasn't until I got to the final feed station at 265km, where I refuelled, drank a lot of water and recovered a bit, that things got back on track. The last 30km were rapid and great fun, pulling the numbers back up a bit. I finished with an overall 10:46 moving time and was pretty pleased with that.

As a whole it was a fantastic day out. Incredibly long, for 30km incredibly difficult, but easily compensated and made sweet by the great climbs, the great descents and the great feeling at the end of completing my longest day on the bike to date. It makes me want to do a lot more endurance riding and racing. Watch this space.

Wiggle Dragon Ride
Great to see so many riders out on the Dragon Ride

Devils Elbow
Photos from Matthew Alexander Photography

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