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The Longest Hill on the Longest Day

So, he did it - Dave Haygarth defeated Cragg Vale. Over 231 miles and 22 consecutive ascents...

"It will end. Just remember, it will end". And end, it did. My friend and a superb Endurance coach Greg May told me that last week, he was right.

I did my best - it was an almighty adventure for me. Before Friday, my longest ever cycle in one ride had been 135 miles. The most I'd climbed in a ride was 10,000 feet. That all changed on a day (and night) (and day) to remember.

The stats are just stats - they tell a bit of a story but obviously not all. But let's dwell on the stats a bit more because, apart from anything else, that's what kept me going. Number-crunching whilst riding, thinking of things like 'number of Skiddaws' or 'How far off the south coast would I be now'. Those silly little things help pass the time when you're grinding your bike up and down Cragg Vale 22 times.

 

  • Planet X new technical sponsor of Christina Watches pro team
  • Former US Postal pro Jamie Burrows with Planet Z Christina Watches team

Above Left: "A reminder for when my head weakens"
Above Right: This light probably has reach of 231 miles in itself

 

Some interesting stats / notables:

  • I was secretly hoping to "Everest" when I got through the night (Everest is 30 ascents), but had no disappointment when I realised that, still on pace at 10am, that wasn't going to happen. I still felt like it was a good load of climbing. I like to think of it as 'A Kilimanjaro and a Skiddaw on top :-)
  • It was a 24 hour event, but I was done at 19 hours (including stops). There was nothing left. My legs were fine, my backside was not. I had quality clothing, good chamois cream, and a well-adjusted riding position, but I was simply not used to that sort of time in a saddle. The last climb and descent were virtually all out of the saddle. Enough!
  • I drank 23 litres of fluid over the 19 hours. I pee'd only 4 times. And I ate god-knows how much food but certainly a big load. I did not run out of 'energy' in any sense, I just 'slowed' suitably But, I lost 3 kg. What the...?!
  • I rode through most of the ride on three-climb blocks (31 miles / 2,950 feet). That worked well because I had drunk all my two x 750ml bottles by then.
  • I got a bit spooked at 5am with some wobbly steering so slept 50 mins. That was not a planned time-slot - I sat on a chair and put my head on the table in front of me, then looked at my watch and it was almost 6am. (I felt fixed!)
  • The bike was a joy, but it was not mechanical-free. A rear wheel with c. 4,000 miles on the clock decided its freewheel bearings had had enough... so I had to pedal down Cragg Vale without a freewheel (luckily I had a spare wheel to put in).
  • I kept the iPhone Strava app going with a £4 battery booster from eBay. It's the size of a crayon and when I finished, my phone battery was still on 100%. Recommended!
  • I changed clothes twice. It was good for morale, and a few minutes washing / drying sweaty face / other bits made a whole of difference to how I felt!! Post-ride, it's interesting. I think I've done something really special. As a friend pointed out on Strava, I gained the "Most kudos I've ever seen on a non-pro ride".

 

 

Above Left: "Change of clothes, 50 mins kip, and now sunshine"
Above Right: This is how far how far 231 miles ride from Dave's house would be


I am obviously in awe of the endurance racers (especially on Mountain Mayhem weekend), and what they can pull off. I know I could not compete at any satisfactory level over those distances, but I feel like this was a good toughie to take on. I see other people's double-centuries now on Strava and immediately look at the ascent, almost automatically.

There's certainly a world of epic rides out there, but as with anything Epic, you only find people more epic when you dig about. Mike Cotty last year, for example. But the Cragg Vale ride was cheaper. And there was a lovely pub as a HQ. And reps are, somehow, just that bit dafter.

 

Above: Dave's Strava profile!


Finally, I have people to sincerely thank. The co-riders for a few very valuable ascents and chats, the pub / HQ, and all the other riders for good jibes, constant encouragement, and sanity. Thanks in name to Carl, Chris, Michal, Lewis, Brant, Giles, Alan, and my lovely wife Katie (who had some really crappy traffic to contend with dropping me off and picking me up!).

23 June 2014

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