Manchester 100 Report
After the Etape Mercia cycle ride I got straight back onto the boat at Liverpool, heading back to the Manx GP for practice week. It was great to be able to help some of the guys over there, mostly with suspension advice but occasionally I was able to pass some course knowledge on too. The week flew by and all of my regulars for the week were making great progress with their lap times, something which was very satisfying for me. I came home on Saturday night, staying for the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, then sailed back again on Tuesday morning. This gave me a chance to help the lads with any last minute adjustments before racing on Wednesday. I stayed until Thursday night to help out with anything for racing on Friday.
My first ever 100 mile cycle ride, the Manchester 100, was booked for Sunday and I’d not even sat on my push bike since the end of the last event 2 weeks ago. This wasn’t really the best preparation so I had a gentle ride (17 miles) out on Saturday morning and felt ready enough for the start of the event.
Dragging myself out of bed at 5.10am on a Sunday morning to ride a push bike for 100 miles the thought entered my head “What has happened to me?”. Eighteen months ago I wouldn’t even have considered doing something like this and would’ve labelled the people who did as nuts! But here I was, scoffing down porridge at stupid o’clock in the morning because the cycling magazine that I get (yes, I do now buy cycling magazines!) reckons it has good slow release energy properties. I have also upgraded from Vaseline to a crème product from a brand called ‘Assos’ which seems pretty appropriately named considering its area of application! So with my Assos creamed up, cycling apparel on and bike loaded I set off to Wythenshawe Park – hoping not to end up in an accident en route and have to explain to a nurse why I was driving wearing cycling shorts, commando and had cream all around my under carriage!
The park was filling rapidly, apparently 4000 others would be riding either the 100k or 100mile routes. I got ready and set off with a group of about 30 others at my start time of 7.15am. I had learned a valuable lesson at the 70 mile Etape Mercia two weeks previously, where I’d burned myself up in the first 50 miles, wore my legs out for the final 20 miles and basically had to drag myself home. I settled into a pace, deciding that I’d use my heart rate monitor to good effect this time. At the previous event I didn’t feel like I was going hard at it early on and was confused that my heart rate was pretty much north of 160bpm continuously. This time I watched that monitor like a hawk, using it like a rev counter. As soon as I saw a figure above 140bpm on a flat piece of road I backed off, a bit like a rev limiter without the torturing engine sound! It sort of went….. pedal-pedal-pedal.. wooaahh, slow down for a bit….. pedal-pedal-pedal.. wooaahh, slow down for a bit.
The plan seemed to be working, I was managing to hold conversation with other riders around me without gasping for breath. One guy that I was chatting to said that his last 100 mile ride was in 1976, well done that man! I wasn’t even born until 1979 and here this chap was holding a decent pace. At the previous event I recognised my biggest downfall had been smashing it up every climb passing everyone around me and congratulating myself at the “summit” how great I was. As mentioned then, at 50 miles my legs were fit to drop off.
I am naturally a competitive person, don’t get me wrong, if I get beaten then I’ll shake that man’s hand. I’ll then relentlessly do as everything possible to prevent myself from being beaten again. In Alcoholics Anonymous style “My name is Mackers and I am competitive”. So when someone passes me climbing a hill, even during an untimed/non-competitive cycling sportive, the voices start in my head “Are you just gonna let this happen, push harder we can get him back”. Not this time, I held back and stared that heart rate monitor out in what was a masterclass of restraint on my part. Watching people passing me up the hills was probably the most frustrating bit of the whole event, the voices had to be silenced for the greater good this time but knowing what I’m like next year’s event will be different!!
So the ride continued on, I met Jo, Ann and Ted at various points to swap water bottles and energy gels etc., heading out through Northwich, Tattenhall, Beeston, Nantwich, Middlewich, Wilmslow and back to Wythenshawe Park for the finish. During each of my five minute stops Jo commented on how well I was looking. I thought I could probably go harder at it but was holding an average speed of just over 16mph (my Etape Mercia average was 17mph) so I was happy to stick to the plan. My Assos started to hurt at about the 80 mile mark but shuffling about on the seat a bit found a more comfortable spot. With 10 miles to go I caved in to the voices and just went for it, still feeling like I had loads left in the tank. I reckoned that even if both of my legs gave up, after doing 90 miles of 100, I’d drag myself for the final 10 with whichever body part that had some life left in it!
It was satisfying to be passing people on the road and to be personally in a much better physical state. The shoe had been firmly on the other foot at the end of my last ride. I crossed the finishing line after 6hrs 22 minutes and 100.5 miles. Really pleased with myself, a bit of neck ache and some saddle “discomfort” were really the only problems that I’d had, but having never ridden for more than 4 hours before I guess that this was always going to be the case. I’d really enjoyed the event and it gave me a great sense of achievement to cross that finishing line, I’d had my doubts that I’d be able to do it after I’d really felt the 70 miler two weeks previously.
That’s about it for cycling events this season, I’ll be doing my best to keep up the mileage through the cooler months and maybe start working towards an accreditation in the Velodrome.
The Frodsham Trials club have a local event coming up – Sept 15th – so I’ll unearth my trusty Beta Techno for that. I’m keen to take young Ted along to a trial to show him what it’s really about. He is great on his Oset and when he is in the mood will ride some ‘sections’ that I’ve coned out for him, standing on the pegs. If he’s not in the mood for controlled riding though he’s just as happy riding around sat in the seat as fast as possible. Then announces that he’s touched his foot down when cornering! Basically I’d like to get him involved in trials so that he slows down!!! I wondered about approaching the club and discuss starting up a guided route for the kids to run aside from the adult trial. It’ll be something to commit to and I’ll have to see what response I get from the club (who don’t know me from Adam) but we shall see.
Racing wise, I have one last meeting planned for this season, The Anglesey Grand over the weekend of October 12th. Shaun Boyle and Barry Ikin are very kindly going to loan me the Fireblade for the event, I’ll do my best.
As always I’ll keep you posted.
Posted: September 5, 2013