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South Downs 100 (Chichester) Sun 23rd Oct

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1 South Downs 100 (Chichester) Sun 23rd Oct on Tue 18 Oct 2011, 00:47

I know Jon and I are doing the epic route, anyone else representing the club this Sunday coming?

Online entries close in 4 days and 1 hour (16.00 Friday)!


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I thought I'd write up my experience of the South Downs 100.

So yeah, without much planning I decided to tag along with Jerry, which I think was my first mistake, the lack of planning, not Jerry. After several weeks where I was riding a lot for work but work had been getting in the way of 'training' I wasn't the best prepared.

After a nice warm up riding to Chichester for the start we had what seemed like another 16 mile walk to the sign on. Once we'd trekked to the college sports hall and back we set off with the next group. The route out of Chichester was fairly quiet (as most roads are at 8:30 on a Sunday) which lead us to Goodwood. There is a great picture of Jerry and myself leading the pack up to the top of the hill where the photographer was positioned. What you can't see in the photo is that I'm navigating by sonar as my sunglasses have entirely fogged up at this point. We then conquered Duncton which was easier from this direction than from the other way on the Southern Sportive and gave us a lovely decent, albeit one with a sharp left hander at the bottom.

The route then wound its way through the downs, on roads I'm not so familiar with until we reached what the map tells me is Bexley Hill which is my new favourite nemesis. The only time in over a year I've had to get off and push, the road surface was wet and greasy, I couldn't put enough power down in the saddle and when I stood up I wheel-spun. It was all I could do not to stall and fall over, that's what I'm claiming anyway. I think having to walk up the hill here was what broke my resolve, from here on it was 'the ride on which I had to get off and push'. As we progressed I began to get more and more fatigued, despite eating every hour and drinking plenty I was rapidly running out of steam with half the distance still to go, it was about here where we realised that we'd not had more than a hundred yards of flat road all ride.

It was a slow climb up Turkey Island, up the side of long Harting but I made it to the top and down to the feed station. After a flapjack, a handful of jelly beans and refilling my bottles we were off again, the sugar hit gave me a burst of speed and we headed around to the back of short Harting, on to East then West Meon and up Old Winchester Hill at Wanford. By this point my sugar rush had slowed to a crawl and me along with it, Jerry commented that I didn't look like I was having fun, and he was right. The ridge along the top of the hill was blustery as ever, sapping my already diminished strength, I've never been more pleased to see the decent from HMS Mercury to East Meon.

Next up was Harvesting Lane, so up it we went. Jerry spent the entire climb shouting encouragement and urging me not to quit but the verge looked so comfortable. I managed to resist laying myself and my bike down on the grass and was rewarded with a feed station at the top. Judging by the amount of fig rolls I ate and how much better they made me feel I need to rethink my nutrition while riding. Fruity Oaty bars are all very well but I think I need sugar as well as slower release foods.
Newly refreshed by the life giving power of biscuits I stayed upright and on the bike all the way through Forestside and Funtington, over some lumps and bumps which we didn't remember being there until we reached the college car park, we were both convinced that it should have been flat and downhill. In order to keep within the gold time Jerry rode a 20 mile time trial with me sitting on his back wheel all the way back to Chichester.

I treated myself to a well deserved cup of tea or two and a leg massage from a very talented woman called Sue. Lessons learnt from this include eating something the night before and revising what I eat during the ride. I think I'm ok with how often I'm eating but I need something with calories that I can access faster than the nutrigrain bars I have been eating. As always Wiggle and UK Cycling Events did a bang-up job with organisation and signage, even if the last mile did go on for twice as long as I was expecting.

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JonG wrote:we reached what the map tells me is Bexley Hill which is my new favourite nemesis.

In Jon's defence it was the hardest hill I've been up in my 5 sportives, my heart rate peaked at 196 which is a new PB as far as I'm aware and that wasn't at the summit - still I was a little disappointed the only other rider I saw still pedalling by the top didn't accept my challenge of a race to the summit...Jon reckon's I'll get attacked by a cyclist one of these days as I'm far too cheerful going up hills.

It was a very lumpy course (6,781ft), for anyone interested here's what my garmin thought:

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Really good write-up guys. This is what being in the PNECC is about. Let's see more riders posting their experiences here.

10/10. cheers

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Very Happy Well done all. Jon remember you got to have the lows - it makes the highs even more memorable! lol!

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