I love a challenge and this year was bridge to bridge. This is 14 k from Henley to Marlow. Last year I loved it but this year I decided to go non wetsuit. The training was fine at the lake and climaxing to just the cossie and I loved the fact no hassle of getting wetsuit on and off!! But they longest swim I had done was 5k and really did not know how I was going to feel with no buoyancy and tiredness. In training, work and 3 kids you can only do what you can and that’s life. Packing the car for a family holiday straight after B2B was really not the best preparation but then did put my mind elsewhere.
It was a wet start in Wave A on Sunday, with a 3:50 alarm going off only shortly after the last clubbers in the Hoxton Hotel noisily found their rooms.
‘Kona’ Steve Hobson & I joined Adam Buck & ‘6 Million Dollar Man’ (we can rebuild him?) Andy Curran in Wave A with about 200 others.
For Steve and I, as some of the elder riders in the testosterone-charged pack of young Bucks (Adam included) the biggest worry was:
Cb we go 4 hours without a pee, unchartered territory for me as some of you will find out as you get older.
The organizers joyfully announce severe flooding will make the first few k’s hazardous, so be prepared to stop at any time. Great!
Nerves were creeping in, but nonetheless they did a great job to get us away on time at 05:44.
The first 10k is pretty feisty at 50 kph+ so Kona Steve & latched onto any train that came thru – Onyx, Regent’s Park Rouleurs (RPR) & London Phoenix pushing up to the front. I sat behind Kona Steve, whose V8 thumpers were pumping out bursts of bonkers watts to bridge any gap and get us on their wheels – even my skinny little legs were hitting bursts of 500+ watts for 20-30 seconds 4-5 times in that early part of the event. Bizarrely this is the way to go, you have to vomit to stay in the pack. At all costs if you want a good time.
Going well at Pru 100 is counter-intuitive. A quick time involves more racecraft than power. With smart use of your power you can easily beat riders who should be stronger on the day, & who burned thru higher TSS score to finish 20-30 minutes back! I had a low overall TSS of only 255 on Training Peaks for the day, hence feeling fresh enough to ride home later. To put that in context, a Windsor Ride in Viceroy Group 1 burns a similar amount of energy & yet the Pru 100 is 100 miles and I averaged just under 40 kph to finish in 4:09:19. Big days out like La Maratona & La Marmotte would be a TSS of 380-450 to go well – far tougher abuse overall as there is little if any group riding or sitting on wheels in alpine events.The Pru 100 is all about using what you have wisely, and that goes against normal logic at times.
Most riders make the mistake of letting fast packs go, as it looks ‘too hard’ to hang on, but they then find themselves working hard for long periods in weaker groups, or solo, to ironically go much slower. Therefore working hard for 30 seconds at crazy watts and 50 kph is actually easier overall than being dropped to ride solo, as once in the pack you can often freewheel so averaging below 200 watts for long periods. You do however need to keep up on the hills, and not everybody can.
We entered Richmond Park in 43 minutes & sadly Kona Steve double punctured on a speed bump (I had no idea as he was behind me, but I never saw him again). To make matters worse he then had a ‘kit malfunction’ with the wrong tubes, or no valve extenders, or both for his deep rims. It was a long lonely walk to the nearest Bicycle Repair Man, and a finish time nowhere near where it should have been.
Leaving Kingston towards Hampton was feisty and I had to hold 330 – 350 watts for 2 – 3 minutes to get onto the group ahead as the pack was now splitting with some riders going backwards having shot all their bullets with 80 miles still to go. It would have been easy to back off, but you have to fight that instinct.
Walton, Weybridge, Byfleet & Ripley passed in a blur as after 2 hours we approached the first hill – Newlands. I could see the lead motorbike was only 50
metres in front of me & I was in a pack of 60-80 riders. They all looked young, it was about to kick off.
As expected the lead group blew to pieces up Newlands and 20 or so got away, never to be seen again. I ended up in the second group as we took in Leith and Box and then headed towards Esher via Leatherhead. Along the way we picked up riders who had dropped out of the first group, & saw several punctures too.
Given the relatively small number of riders ahead, the numbers puncturing seemed high but heavy rain had washed all sorts of muck onto the roads.
Measage to all Viceroys:
Keep a set of new, or nearly new tyres for key events. Nobody wants a puncture to ruin their day. Never train on your race tyres if you want to lessen that risk come the big day, as you want them perfect to reduce that puncture risk on key events.
After Esher the pace is hot up to Wimbledon & Putney, running thru red lights at 40+ kph as we cover the last 10k in 13 minutes to turn under admiralty arch and race to the finish. Sprinting is not my strongest suit at age 53, but I hang on to cross the line at 9:54 am and sneak in under 4:10 – a good result given the rain meant early sections were slower going, especially the descent of Newlands where we had a downpour to liven things up.
Next year my goal is sub 4:05. I will need to chance it with that counter-intuitive extreme early effort to push at maximum effort up Newlands to stay in the lead group to do that, as that is where the main split occurs. Perhaps had I stayed with them the ongoing pace might have been manageable, given the way thru & off works, with time coasting whilst the lead rider does the work.
I will try and find out next year!
Peter Kelsey 4:09:19
Darren Kidson 4:09:57: ‘Really enjoyable ride, and room for improvement next year!
Adam Buck 4:30:19
Johannes Veit 4:31:19
Andrew Curran 4:40:20
Lyndsey Fitzgerald 4:59:02
Stuart Simms 5:06:13
Kevin Dargue 5:11:46
Steve Hobson 5:12:02
Nick Christian 5:27:20
Stephen Newton 5:33:05
Jamal Shakir 5:37:32
Daniel Poynter 5:43:45
Tegwynne Goldthorpe 5:54:26
Kevin Argent 7:29:31
Elizabeth Kerry 7:30:11
Darrin Mackie 7:50:06
John Mackey05:26:24 (OT), 05:07:54 (MT).
Ian Talbot 5:12
Andrea Whelband 6:20 actual ride time was 5hrs 12 (which could have been sub 5 if it wasn’t for stupid tyre problems)
Lara Clay: 5.05 MT
Andrew Tolson: 7 punctures, and set my slowest time ever