Sunday, 2 September 2012

North Cheshire Clarion 2012 Audax

"Mind the oil as you go up."  Perfect, I'm just about to go up the third steepest climb of the day and a convoy of MG's on a pootle out had dumped oil all over the road right up the climb.  An already stiff climb suddenly became more technical in avoiding oil patches.

This was one of the moments in today's North Cheshire Clarion 115km audax which took us out from Lower Whitley in Cheshire over to Alderley Edge and through Bollington into the edges of the Peak District National Park.
Route Profile of Today's Ride
According to the weather forecast we were expecting 16 degrees - superb.  Rolling out at 08.45am the weather was drizzly and generally dull until around 1.05pm when the sun finally broke through.

My plan today was to ride the 115km from start to finish without any major food stops and aim to complete it in 5 hours.  Cresting a climb called "The Wizard" in Alderley Edge (the first major bump) I nipped in to the first control point and filled up my water bottles and got straight back out again keen to hit the climbs.

I stopped briefly at the Co-Op for a sausage roll and a flapjack which I eat on the bike before the middle of the ride, to top up the tanks.  The long climb of the day was a steep one about two miles in length, my heart rate average going up was 164/165bpm.  Following a mile or so descent, there's another stiff and sharp climb which is where the oil was on the road.

What Goes Up

One benefit of a big climb is the descent and I absolutely love going fast.  The steep descent took me to 42mph/67kmh on the way down and it was worth every moment of pain going up, after that it was pretty much downhill and flat.

If you have a look at the last 20km of the route profile you'll see it has a mild ascent all the way to the finish, which was energy sapping, particularly as a headwind had been blowing most of the day.

Manchester 100

The audax co-incided with the Manchester 100 sportive and it was a good reminder to me why I don't ride that event anymore.  There are a signifcant number of riders on the route, all riding five or six abreast often trying to overtake and many without any group riding etiquette.  At one or two points today I had to raise my voice as blind bends had riders on the other side of the road coming towards oncoming traffic.
Food and Energy
One big change I've made since understanding more about my heart rate zones is a drastic reduction in the use of gels and sport nutrition products.

I prefer savoury food anyway but by managing my heart rate just below my aerobic maximum, you don't need the carbohydrate from gels and the like.  I can pretty acurately now determine if I do need to add carbohydrate particularly by keeping an eye on my effort levels.

Dont' get me wrong, I carry a couple in my pocket as contingency, but rarely need them.

Here's what I eat on the ride today: -

1x Banana (pre-ride)
1 x coffee (pre-ride)
2 x Chocolate Croissants (pre-ride)
1 x Sausage Roll (on-ride)
1 x Flapjack (on-ride)
4 x Bottles of Fluid

Dress for Success

I've figured out my perfect layering solution for long rides now.  It works for me as it allows me to quickly layer up/layer down depending on conditions.  Here's what I wore today: -

3/4 bib shorts
Base layer vest
Short Sleeved Cycling top
Merino Arm Warmers

Wearing arm warmers rather than a long sleeved top allows you to peel them back on the big climbs to dissipate heat and whip them straight back up on the cold descents.  

Ride Stats (includes my ride up from home)

Total Ride Time:        5hrs 37M including ride up (5hrs for the 75M event)
Distance:                   82M/130KM
Ascent:                      3,166ft
Avg. Cadence:         79rpm
Avg HR:                    140bpm (zone 3)
Avg. speed:             14.4mph
Ride Ascent Ratio:  38.60 

It was a good day out for sure.  For an entry fee of £6.00, yes £6.00 including food on departure and return (home cooked) you can't compare it vs. an expensive sportive.  My plate of food on arrival back at the control HQ was a meat and potato pie with baked beans, followed by a home cooked muffin - perfect fuel before the twelve mile ride home.


  1. I was out myself around Knutsford and Wilmslow yesterday, and I totally agree with you about the standard of riding being shown in the Manchester 100 event. Its great to see so many out there cycling, but the 'roadmanship' was sorely lacking and makes one wonder how many total inexperienced riders are joining these large scale events with little concept of the dangers they face on the road.

  2. Really impressed with the ride though for 82 miles you didn't seem to need too many calories!


  3. "There were clowns to the left of me, clowns to the right" I got caught up with the Manc 100 at the entrance to Tatton Park and had the misfortune to be stuck in the middle of them through to Knutsford. I saw one rider fall at a t junction, not sure why. The audax itself was superb, even the brutal climbs. The cake mountain at the finish was a VERY welcome sight. Cheers, Darryl