I rode from Bala in North Wales to Brecon last weekend. It’s not often I get to do point to point road rides, but work sent me northwards so I blagged a lift off the boss and took my bike so I could ride back.
The goal was simple (besides getting home): ride 100 miles of Welsh hills. Despite all my years on a bike, and three 24 hour solo’s under my belt, I’d never actually done a ton on a road bike.
The wind down the valley was strong, and the ribbon of tarmac that wound up the valley in front of me seemed all the more steep in these conditions. As I leaned on the pedals and thought aerodynamic thoughts, I glanced down to see my power meter was reading 450 watts – well above my threshold. I’d only been riding for 6 miles. It was going to be a long day…
Eventually the gradiant relented (the wind had other ideas) and I tucked up for the fast descent down to Llyn Vyrnwy. The route round the lake was very pleasant and calm in comparison to the previous valley. I continued onwards to Welshpool and then to towards Newtown. Here I met up with my friend Alan who’d ridden from Brecon to meet me. This was halfway and I was grateful to be able to share the headwind a bit. We headed back through Newtown and began our climb up into the hills. The wind was persistent and for the next 30 odd miles it began to wear us both down.
Builth Wells represented the final brief stop. Here we had a choice. The hilly route over the ranges, or the valley route which was 5 miles longer. My legs were feeling truly empty, and I was probably a bit under fuelled – I’ve never been good at eating on the bike. Neither seemed very attractive.
A can of coke and a Torq gel we were back on the bikes and heading for the hilly route. The combination of simple and complex carbs did the trick by the second hill and before we knew it we reached the top and it was practically down hill to Brecon. With 6 hours 37 minutes on the clock and 100 miles ridden I surprised to find my normalised power as high as 190 watts. Not bad considering I’ve not really done very much riding over the winter.
Contrary to any assumptions you may have made from the title of this post, I was in fact clothed throughout. I’d just forgotten to take my helmet, so felt a little under-dressed…