Tuesday, 14 April 2015

ElliptiGO - Yr Elenydd 300k Audax ride (short report)

It doesn't get any better than this! The mountain road to Tregaron and the Devils staircase. Photo Credit: Glyn Marston
So this Audax was a little extra qualifying ride to add to The Dean 300 PBP qualifier I rode 2 weeks ago. The Yr Elenydd is a 300k romp through mid-Wales started and finished in Upton Magna, East of Shrewsbury. It was a quite remarkable journey of green pastures, mountain roads, high peaks, rolling valleys, tough winds, long climbs and fast descents. It had everything you could want from a serious 300 where even some of the cyclists would be challenged and miss the 20 hour cut off.

I was riding solo for this one so I was in complete control of my pace and time spent at controls. Don't get me wrong, I love group rides, but the simplicity and focus of riding alone is a different type of enjoyable and one that I absolutely relish. Plus you really benefit on the ElliptiGO when you can dial in on that almost metronomic stride and rhythm which is impossible to find when riding in a group. The strategy for this one was simple; minimise stopping time - aiming for less than 1 hour over the total distance, and ride steady and hard throughout keeping my effort as even as possible.

There will be no blow by blow account this time around. I went into this ride looking for a purer experience on the ElliptiGO where it was just me and 300k that lay await. I didn't take photos, I didn't update Facebook, I didn't even want to break the momentum of the ride at the controls so bounced through many whilst most others sat around eating second and third breakfast, and drinking tea. The overall experience was significantly heightened as a result. Sometimes it's worth putting the distractions of modern day life aside and this has given me a lot to think about for future rides. That said I of course had Strava GOing on the iPhone all the way around. 

The highlights and lowlights of the Yr Elenydd were as follows:

(A few) Lowlights:
  •          At literally 5:59am one minute before setting off in the first wave of riders the dark clouds loomed menacingly above us, the heavens opened and it poured!
  •          For the entire first 100k I suffered from firstly a minor which then became a major mechanical issue with the 11 speed hub. It slipped, it skipped, it crunched, it was plain infuriating! I ended up losing gears 11, 10, 9, 6 and it wasn't much better in 5, 4 or 3! Argh.
  •         Headwinds for first 150k made the GOing slow but I actually secretly enjoyed the challenge and learnt to manage my effort accordingly. You just don't want to say it out loud to cyclists as I’ve noticed they do like to constantly moan about headwinds ;-) They should try it on a GO!
  •         With only 1.5km left to GO my front light goes out and I'm plunged into total darkness causing me to have to stop and lose some (not so) precious minutes.

(A lot of) Highlights:
  •         A great journey up to Upton Magna in the Nissan Leaf using two Ecotricity rapid chargers on the way. I love electric motoring which is almost as fun as the ride itself!
  •         A great night sleep in the Village hall waking up feeling refreshed and ready for action
  •         Beans on toast for breakfast really hit the spot. Thanks go to John and his team of volunteers who hosted a superb Audax
  •         At 104km I finally decided enough was enough and stopped to try and fix the hub, and I succeeded! :-D The cause was a new chain which I had just fitted prior to this ride, that had already stretched and loosened to the point where it wouldn’t engage the gears properly. The lesson here was that for the 15 minutes it took to fix the issue I saved well over an hour (possibly much much more) in higher top end speed and far more efficient climbing. Note to self – ALWAYS fix an issue as soon as it crops up rather than battling on hoping it will GO away. It usually doesn’t…
  •         The epic mountain road to Tregaron - taking on and conquering three major climbs of the infamous Devils Staircase (25% gradient), Gamallt and Cenglau which all come in quick succession.
  •         Ride through the Elan Valley in the warm afternoon sunshine which was as good as it gets on an ElliptiGO. The perfect ride which I will never forget it.
  •         Cranking out an average 20 KPH moving speed for the entire route
  •         Feeling really strong on the climbs and demonstrating what the ElliptiGO is capable of
  •         Rolling back into Upton Magna village hall just gone 10:30pm to clock a total time of 16:34
  •         Tucked up in bed just after midnight! ZZZzzzzzzz
Strava ride file here

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