Monday, May 20, 2013

Gran Fondo New York

I have never used these letters in a blog before (or an email for that matter), but OMG, what a ride yesterday....

Lets see, going back a week before the start of the race I picked up a nasty cold and so was laid low all week, no training at all, just trying to beat the cold.... It pretty much worked and I woke up Sunday morning feeling 95% of normal, bit still worried about not having trained at all for 2 weeks now and setting off on my first 100 miler.

Weather report had been forecasting mild weather for the day with a 10% chance of rain....

How wrong were they!!

We had monsoon conditions for most of the race with a steady flow of rain and 6 - 10 mph winds through the entire day. This made for really challenging conditions in a ride that I was already nervous for.

Some stats: more than 5,000 registered for the ride, approx 3,800 started, only 2,200 finished. Brutal day.

First hour was pretty uneventful, although within 15 mins we were pretty soaked, I lost my riding buddy (Rob) at mile 5 when my chain derailed (the first of 4 such events). Held 16 mph in the wet and was really focussed on my heart rate and seeing how the body felt after recovering from the Half IM and cold. After 30 minutes everything seemed to start checking in and I felt better, although very annoyed with myself for leaving my rain jacket in the car...

The big event / focus of the ride was the climb up Bear Mountain at mile 45. It is a long (3.7 mile) steady climb which I can imagine must be pretty good to do in normal conditions. In a monsoon not so much fun.... I locked onto the wheel of someone who looked stronger than me and was able to hold onto him for the whole journey up, keeping a steady 9 mile pace all the way up, so I was pretty happy with my climb there. The decent was madness, fog / rain / wind brought visibility very low and we could only see about 200 ft ahead. Riding down holding on the brakes for fear of what we couldnt see, shivering in the cold as the speeds increased but our legs werent moving dropped body temps way down and resulted in some stiff muscles at the bottom of the hill.

I actually found the next hill harder than Bear Mountain, it wasnt as steep but went on for longer and I wasnt expecting it to be so tough, this made it worse in my mind. My speed only averaged out at 6 mph on this climb and I struggled to hold onto wheels.

The cherry on the cake was a fall at mile 104 (0.5 miles from the end). Conditions had become pretty tough and the road conditions werent great, we were being funneled into a narrow track next to a busy road. I was cruising in the aero position and must have lost concentration, hit a pot hole and went down on my right side. Picked up some road rash, bruised chest and legs. Thankfully no major damage to me or bike (butchers bill is $200 to fix the bike) and not a great way to end a long and wet day.

Anyway in spite of the tough conditions I picked up a lot of experience which was a big goal of the day. Worked on my nutrition plan which seemed to hold:

2 x 3 hour bottles of Perpetuem
6 Hammer gels
2 bottles of water with electrolyte mix
2 Power Bars

If the day had been hotter no doubt would have drunk a lot more water on the bike.

Total elevation for the day was 8,800 ft. For Mont Tremblant the total is 7,000 Ft. Not a whole lot less than this ride. Need to do lots more hill training now to get ready. Lucky there are a lot of hills around us to train on.

I was really happy to finish, bank the 112 miles and learn. Now back into training, 90 days to go!

Some photos from the day from the Gran Fondo website to give a flavor for the conditions (even the great marketers over there couldn't think of anything clever to say other than "Epic weather"):

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Ironman Finish Line - Go to clock time 13:16:19 to see me finish