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Wiggle Essex Explorer 2014

The sun was already very warm as I loaded up the car at 7am, and the forecast was for a very sunny day. Not ideal conditions when attempting to cycle 100 miles, but better than wind and rain! My preparations had not been ideal, what with pulling my hamstring a month before, and taking a week off to go on holiday, but I was still hopeful of beating 6 hours (my time last year was 6 hours 21 minutes, albeit on a different route).

The sportive seemed much busier this year (and it was later confirmed that there were nearly twice as many riders, around 850). I started in the second wave, and for the first 40km I felt fine - there were plenty of people around in groups, and we made good progress. Even up to the second feed station at 85km there were still plenty of groups on the road and I wasn't feeling too bad - I got to that station in 2 hours 40 minutes, so was well on for a time under 6 hours, and at that point I was optimistic of getting the gold standard of under 5 hours 53 minutes.

This however didn't happen - I had been expecting the third and final feed station at around 120km, so as I got to 115km I thought I would be able to refuel soon and didn't eat or drink much (my bottles were practically empty by that point anyway). However, it didn't appear until 135km, by which time I was very, very tired. The last hour or so was very hard going! By this point I had given up on trying to get the gold time, with my aim to get under 6 hours - I was almost thwarted when my left leg cramped up 3km from home, but I managed to get it going again and ended up with a time of 5:58.14!

Here is a video of me crossing the line - the air punch was through relief I think!

Here's a photo of me suffering in the last hour.

It was an enjoyable day in the end, and I was very pleased to break 6 hours despite the heat and less than ideal preparation. The only thing I would change is to have the 3rd feed station a bit sooner, as I might have got nearer the gold time if that were the case. It's my own fault really, they did tell us where the feed stations were beforehand but I didn't pay attention (I'll remember to next time!) It was interesting to follow the route of the Tour too, I bet the pros go along those roads much, much quicker than I did!


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