The 12 hour
Normally I get Em to do these write ups as we often do the same races and she does a much better job than me… However this time it was only me who was daft enough to enter the WCTTCA 12 hour so I’d better write about it!
Firstly I need to say a huge thanks to Em and Dave Fearon for looking after me the whole day and to Jim Williams and the Gregorys for coming down and cheering me on; I think I’d have packed it in without them.
The day started nice and early with Dave pulling up in his van at 4:45am and we loaded it up with my TT bike, road bike, spares and load of food and drink. We then set off to Farndon where the HQ was, getting there in plenty of time to get sorted and roll up to the start line for my start time of 6:37am. Honestly I wasn’t as nervous as you might think, mainly because I hadn’t really allowed myself the time to contemplate how long 12 hours on a bike really is… turns out it’s quite a while.
The first section of the ride would best be described as “rolling” and I constantly had to reign it back on the ups so I didn’t go too hard. I managed to lose a bottle and drop my first feed all within the first half hour, as well as being down on my schedule due to the hills. I wasn’t worried though as I was feeling good and had plenty of time to sort it out. The first 25 miles came up in about 1hr 2 minutes and got me to the Hodnet roundabout where I began the first of 4 laps down to Shawbirch and back. Fortunately these roads were a bit flatter and I was able to maintain my average speed nicely, picking off earlier starters as I went. At about 70 or 80 miles in my lower back was really starting to hurt, which hasn’t happened to me on the long TTs before but has happened on the longer slow training rides weirdly. I had to stop to stretch and applied some ibuprofen gel which seemed to help a fair bit. I also restocked on food and drink, as I’d missed a feed due to being sent on an unexpected extra fourth lap with a few others who were going well.
On my final approach to Hodnet roundabout I was sent on to the transition to Prees Heath via Tern Hill where I had the pleasure of faster roads and some pondlife swearing at me from their cars. Once at Prees Heath roundabout I took a sharp left and started on the “Battlefield leg”. Dave had mentioned this bit in the morning with a sly grin and I soon realised why. The outward leg (to the south) was mostly uphill into a block headwind and seemed to go on forever, and to make matters worse there was a lot of traffic and it had just started to rain….
As I took a bottle from Em at the top of a hill (120 miles in) I think I mentioned something about it being “the worst thing I’ve ever done”. She just laughed. I got to Battlefield roundabout, did a 180 and set back towards Prees, fortunately now with a big tailwind I felt a little less sorry for myself although I’d made my mind up that if they sent me on another lap of this bit I’d stop. Fortunately that didn’t happen and I was sent on to the “Quina Brook” circuit where it was great to see Graham riding the opposite way cheering me on and Anne and Helen at Prees Heath and Jim Williams who was taking some great pictures, cheers guys!
After a lap or so of the Quina circuit (150miles) I realised that my stomach was not feeling good so I had some crystallised ginger (good tip from Dave) which seemed to help for a bit but I was really struggling to eat my rice cakes/ brioche/ gels and needed something savoury. Fortunately Dave had lots of spare cheese and pickle sandwiches and one of these was just the trick, at least for a bit, although unfortunately it all started to go downhill from here as I found it harder and harder to eat and “keep it down”. Turns out I don’t have a strong a stomach as I thought and my fairly loose nutrition plan of a gel an hour plus something solid and some energy drink had started to backfire. I guess if I’d been targeting this event all year I’d have done some practice runs but I kind of entered it on a whim and thought it would be fine…. OOPS at least I only had another 5 hours and my legs were still feeling good so just got on with it.
At about 180 miles I was directed off the Quina loop and set off on the leg towards Wrexham and the finishing circuit. Although quite lumpy there was a lovely tailwind and the roads were fast and interesting which kept me distracted from my bad stomach. My average speed at this point was still a decent 22.6 and on schedule for about 265 miles. My steady rhythm was broken on the Bangor on Dee road by a set of temporary lights and then a heard of cows crossing! No worries though as I was back up to speed soon and was on to the finishing circuit around Wrexham industrial estate.
Whilst my legs were still feeling surprisingly good, my stomach was not and it meant I couldn’t pedal as I would have liked. The other issue was that I wasn’t taking in the correct amount of food so I knew if I tried too hard I’d bonk spectacularly. Not pressing as I wanted did start to cost me against my schedule, but I wasn’t going to give up and just kept spinning, making the most of the fast parts and cruising the slow parts. At some point Jim offered me some of his chips which were the most welcome and best thing I’d eaten all day!
After about 8 laps of the circuit (the last 3 hours are mostly an unpleasant blur) the clock got near to my finish time of 18:37. I came to timekeeper 1 at 18:35:30 so had to go on a little longer than the 12 hours to the next timekeeper where I could finally finish the ride with a final distance of 257.74 miles. I fell in to the chair Em and Dave had waiting for me, ahhh.
Back at the HQ we had a good chat with some other competitors; I think everyone expressed a relief it was over! Massive respect to everyone who rode and a huge thank you to the marshals and organisers, the event ran really smoothly.
So to sum up; I’m proud of myself for finishing, 257 miles is a long way and I’d never have thought I’d ever ride that far a couple of years ago. Lots of lessons were learned and my legs definitely had way more miles in them. Will I do another? Maybe, but only if I can sort the fuelling out…
Official results from the day…
1 – David Parkin – Chorley Cycling Club – 282.96
2 – Victor Chetta – Pirate Juice CC – 279.11
3 – Daniel Shackleton – ABC Centreville – 274.13
4 – Alan Chorley – Seamons CC – 263.85
5 – Colin Hayes – Liverpool Century RC – 260.31
6 – Sam Taylor – Weaver Valley CC – 257.74
Thanks to all in the club for your lovely comments and congratulations, it means a lot!