bikebritain Says August 17, 2013

How not to ride wiggle's 'Mega Meon'

Wiggle's Mega Meon Sportive

Having participated in 'The Long One' about a month earlier, it was a no-brainer to sign up and cycle wiggle's 'Mega Meon'. Based around similar roads (as the Long One), it also offered beautiful countryside and the same empty roads. I signed up. However, this article will be unlike previous sportive reviews. That's because until I got to the 105 km mark, it was a normal ride, being ridden at a rate that meant I would be finishing 160 km comfortably under 6 hours (my target time). At the 105 km mark though, things began to get 'jazzy' - and this warrants a little more context. 

Past experience has shown the following:-

1. Performance is improved after eating a decent amount of pasta in the morning
2. Appropriate hydration is key to a successful ride
3. Ensuring one's personal ablutions are complete prior to cycling is optimal
4. Drinking before the night before the event can render exercise much more challenging, especially in the heat
5. And finally, a good nights sleep is a real tonic prior to 6 hours exercise

However, what actually happened was this:-

1. Nothing to eat in the morning other than one very small sausage roll (the food of champions as we all know)
2. One glass of water seemed sufficient at the time
3. I needed to 'find a tree' immediately after I passed the start line
4. I had 5 pints of Peroni the night before
5. I had about the worst sleep ever, apparently being cooked on a high heat for most of the night

Not completely ideal, but I didn't let this worry me. You could always to the shorter route……as if that was ever going to happen! 

Fast-forward to the 105 km mark......after going so well, it had started to go.......pear-shaped.

Power to date had been very good. I had taken the first 50 km reasonably easy but from then on, I had been motoring. I mean, no one had over-taken me. I felt amazing. I could not be stopped. Arriving at the second food stop I scoffed a few Jaffa cakes and decided I didn't need to refill my water bottles. Still had some of one left. Big mistake. I would soon pay for this school boy error.

It came on quite quickly - power loss, that is. Suddenly, my legs felt very heavy and I was very thirsty. I was going through my water bottle like no tomorrow. Uphill, the legs were flagging. What the hell was going on? Try as I might, there was nothing left in the tank. I had well and truly burned myself out. I've done this a few times, but points 1-5 all started coming back to me. It was hot. I had not been drinking enough. I was dehydrated to start with. I was tired. I hadn't eaten appropriately. I was in trouble. I needed to go to into 'safe' mode. I needed to make the next food stop in one piece. 

The next 23 km were extremely painful. Some of the most painful clicks I've had on the bike in a long while. Worse than my mega ride in Mallorca a few months ago. I was utterly spent. I had nothing left. How on earth I was going to finish I didn't know. I just had to get to food stop #3. Climbing was like wading through treacle. It felt like I was going backwards, in fact I would have even going quicker had I been going backwards. I was making painful progress. People I had sped by earlier were coming back to haunt me. I was the cyclist people look at when they go past thinking "He's slow". I was very slow. I actually started thinking there was something working with my Garmin. It just would not elapse fast enough. It seemed to stick on each individual kilometre, just staring me out. Each time I thought it would never move. Eventually it did.

I have never gotten off the bike and felt unsteady, let alone stumbled. I did on the 'Mega Meon'. Stop #3 was up a slight hill and it took all my might to hold it together and shovel, and I do mean shovel, food into my mouth. 6 pieces of flapjack, at least 2 pints of water and countless Jaffa cakes later I started to feel human again. I was in bits. I spent at least 15 minutes here, resting. The food had an almost instant reaction. The legs were tired but I had refuelled them sufficiently enough to get me through the last 30 km of so. With recharged water bottles, I got back on the bike, ironically now feeling slightly sick. Too much food in too shorter time. Yet another schoolboy error!

I started cycling again and felt a bit better. I took it steady. My heroics had long since passed but I maintained a steady pace, even overtaking a couple of people as I continued. The ride finished with a 5 km slog up the back of RNAS HMS Daedalus that overlooks the Solent. I had no idea it went on for as long as it did. Usually this would be the type of hill I eat for breakfast. Long, steady, not too steep. Perfect. Not today. Every revolution sapped a little more from my legs and by the end it was as much as I could do to just push the pedals around. 

The final hurrah came on the way down to the finish line. An entertaining descent resulted in some minor overtaking antics, but nothing serious. I was very pleased to cross the finish line with a ride time 5:57 and an elapsed time of 6:19. The target will need to be having a total elapsed time of sub 6 hours. However, as far as the Mega Meon goes, I was pretty happy with that, all things consider. Next time I must refer myself to my own advice........

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