I've arrived at Peruvian Wharf around 7:00 after taking ferry first time here. The starting area was busy already, after all there were over 2000 people participating. After waiting in short queue I go my start pack with some printed informations, numbers for bike and luggage, wristband and timing sticker that went on my helmet. After tagging everything (bike, bag, helmet and myself) I was ready to go. I couldn't find any information about available nutrition so I decided to take few energy bars with me instead of inner tube (I still took pump and repair kit) and it turned out to be a good decision!
The biggest problem I had was fact that I didn't cycle that much in years. Of course, I do around 200 km each week, but not all at once. My main goal was to finish the day with smile on my face and some energy left for Sunday. I decided to stick to 3rd heart rate zone and basically managed to hold around it for majority of the distance. Obviously it was not always possible to be spot on with heart rate, after all the event was held on open roads, with traffic, lights etc.
Anyway, as you can see on recorded training data, we were supposed to end in Windsor, which is located west of London. But instead going there directly there (that would be no fun at all), we went completely opposite ;)
I knew that London is different than the rest of England, but to be honest I was not expecting countryside to be THAT nice. Green almost everywhere, little to no cars (ok, last time I said the same and I ended up in hospital...) and this silence that you won't find in the city. I loved every single second of it.
Perhaps it doesn't look like it, but first day course was quite flat, highest point of this curve is only 150 meters.
I've arrived at Windsor with only 20 people already there. Since not everyone started at the same time, I actually don't know my exact place, but I'm sure it was in the top 10%. I haven't been so proud of myself for a long time ;)
Rest of the day was very calm. I got my 15 minutes massage, ate some real food (got enough of power bars at that point) and, surprise, started to read a book. As more people finished, the place become more and more crowded, but there was nothing serious happening. Or perhaps it was me - too tired to appreciate what was happening. Anyway, I ended up in my tent very fast.
I woke up around 5:45 with the "I'm going to finish this quickly again" idea in my head. Oh I was so wrong, but let me get to that. I started around 7:30, in the 4th wave, I think. It was surprisingly swift ride and I don't even know when I ate first 40 kilometers (first pit stop), or next 40 (second pit stop).
But 20 km after second break I made wrong turn (stupid me) and wandered for a while, completely alone. After another 10 km I somehow managed to get back on track, meeting lots of people racing. I was happy that I'm not lost anymore and I felt great at that time. The only problem was, that everyone was damn slow. In 15 minutes I overtook few dozens of riders and I started to feel that something is wrong. Few kilometers more and I knew for sure - I was at second pit stop. Again. Check the map, you will se the loop.
I've lost more than hour and ended up adding 30 km to my route. Oh it made me pissed for some time, but in the end I started telling to myself "you've made 30 km more and still are faster than lots of people, man up!". This worked. What stopped worked were my knees. I don't know if it was just too much or wrong bike fit (saddle to low? wrongly placed cleats? truly don't know), but last 50 km were real pain. I ended up taking breaks every 30 minutes, I slowed down, messed up with cadence, hr, goals etc etc. Well, sometime things just don't work. You can see the complete recorded data here.
Second day was also way more hilly, perhaps my body just said "enough"? If you look carefully, you can see hills that I had to do twice ;)
We've made quick stop at Herne hill Velodrome. I say quick, because I had absolutely no power in my legs left whatsoever. I made few laps and recorded them on the last bits of HD Hero battery ;). I will definitely go back there at some point!
I've arrived at the finish line around 4 pm, tired as hell, but happy.
Was it worth it? Hell yes! It's quite expensive (160 pounds), but if you wonder if you should do it - the answer is definitely YES! There we few downsides of course, so here are my positive and negative thoughts.
- Beautiful and challenging (especially day 2) route, well marked (yep, I got lost, but still - well marked)
- Nice, quiet overnight camp
- Pit stops with food and tech team (thanks to them for fixing my gears ;))
- Nice photos taken (not free, but not that expensive either)
- Friendly atmosphere
- So many great cyclists
- Tasty dinner
- Massage after first day
- Better showers that I've expected ;). MUCH better!
- not well organized time between finish and the evening of day 1
- no food between finish line and dinner on day 1 (some protein / recovery shake would be perfect)
- low carb breakfast (biggest downside, at least for me. Eggs and bacon? That's nice if you don't need to use 6000 kcal in next few hours)
- overnight camp was supposed to be secured, but after 10:30 (and whole Sunday morning) everyone could access it. There was also a side gate that was open and left unattended
These negatives are minor things in the end and for sure didn't change my overall great experience of the weekend.
Will I do it again next year? Probably yes. But now I'm thinking about incoming triathlons. First is in 5 weeks only. Should I be scared already?
Btw, I've completed two goals for this year!