This was a blisteringly hot day – according to Tony’s car’s thermometer it was 29 degrees (my Garmin registered a maximum of 33 degrees during my ride) – and with a stiff old breeze from the north that greatly exceeded the 7mph draft that was forecast. It was my first outing on the E2/25 for a year or so.
Driving out there, it was clear that the conditions were going to be ‘interesting’, due mostly to the heat, but also the wind. We collected our numbers from the HQ and retired to a lane near the start. Tony was off slightly more than an hour before me, and I found what little shelter I could beside a hedge and waited. After a while I rode up and down the lane, but it was so-o-o-o hot! By the time I rode off to the start, I’d drunk almost everything I’d brought (clearly insufficient!) and eaten a banana as I was feeling a bit hungry. I reached the start line a bit early and waited in the shade of a tree while talking to one of the women riders (I was starting three minutes after the women in the race). Passing riders who’d already finished observed that it was pretty tough on the return leg.
The start was pretty straightforward, though I always get nervous when the pusher-off actually pushes me off, as it always feels like I’m going to depart in an unfortunate direction! But everything was OK as I zoomed off down the sliproad onto the A14. The breeze instantly had its effect, and indeed the outward leg was pretty quick all the way. Coming out of the turn, I was caught by #80 for three minutes, then at the bottom of the slip road by #78 for one minute. No-one else passed me, though I did catch some of the women riders.
I found the nagging head wind a bit tough, especially on the slight uphill gradients (the course is actually really flat for the most part). I was also getting very thirsty, with what little saliva I could muster gluing my mouth up! So it was something of a relief to see the finish line looming! I finished in 57:02, which isn’t too bad given my season so far.
After the race, we returned home for home-made pizza and Leffe, which rounded off a hot, sticky and reasonably successful afternoon out.
Stats-wise, I spent most of the race at rather a high pulse rate, often in excess of 190bpm. I think this reflected both the temperature and the effort, though the power recorded by the Powertap wheel was rather lower than I’d expected. All these data and more in the Garmin trace!