I need to start building up the long rides in preparation for this challenge, and for the moment I'm planning to stick in one decent long ride a week, pad out the rest of the week with 40-50 mile efforts, and have one day when I seek out some silly steep hills and do lots of repeats on them to get used to, and strong enough for the climbs on the Fred Whitton.
I can't really mimic the gradient locally, so I'll use bigger gears on the climbs that I do use.
I had a look at the forecast for the next couple of days, and it seemed to me that the best window of half decent weather was going to be today. So I had a play with my mapping software and came up with an 86 mile route that seemed to fit the bill. It was also going to be a good opportunity to work at the food/drink strategy.
I had previously thought that I would have a quick off-bike 5 minute break ever 20 miles - but that translates to 25 minutes of not riding on the Fred Whitton. So today I thought I'd seee how I went with a 40-mile stint between rests.
I knew that it meant that I'd possibly stop quite close to the end, but these things need experimenting with!!
Once again the roads were really mucky - some were more mud than tarmac! But as a whole this was a fantastic ride. There were a few more easy climbs than on the 70 mile route I did the other day, and the hilliest bit was from 55-70 miles - and again my legs seemed to perk right up then!
So - a planned 5 minute break for food and wee stop at 40 miles. Found a lovely little sun-trap for it, and it WAS nice to get off the bike, albeit briefly. Coming to a village at 77 miles, I had been thinking that I'd just ride through..... but I was actually getting stomach-knawingly hungry, so decided that I would stop there as well. I'd also been riding into the wind for the past 6 miles!!
It was a good decision!
Overall I was really pleased with the way this went. It's the longest ride that I've done in a long time, and I got the pace/effort about right, because there was still some oompfh left in my legs even though they were a little fatigued. One thing that I may have to look at.... I was feeling slightly cramped on the bike, especially cycling into the wind, so I may put a slightly longer stem on.
All in all - an excellent day.
86.5 miles in 5:43