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Eastern Counties CA 100

Eastern Counties CA 100 mile Time Trial
19 June 2016

You know that a hobby is perhaps becoming an obsession when bedtime is 9pm on a Saturday night and the alarm is set for 2.30am Sunday….

Images courtesy Davey Jones

Anyway, back to the plot here.

Having taken early retirement from the Ironman triathlons for now, yet with some big training miles done over the winter it seemed entirely appropriate to go after the longer TT distances and see how close I can get to those PBs set in the mid 1990’s.
The 100 mile seemed like a good idea, especially as I have not ridden so many of those. My PB of 4:12 was set in the ECCA event in 1995, so I contacted the event organiser for this years edition. A full field looked likely, so I checked the reserve box and hoped my qualification time would be enough to get a ride.
Full field, and I was reserve #12 of 15! However the rate of drop outs for the 100 is fairly high and a super job by event organiser John Golder meant that 14 of the 15 reserves had confirmed starts by the Saturday night before the event. Great idea this reserve system.
So, with the addition of hydration and food to the bike, I prepared myself for an early start to drive up to Newmarket on Sunday morning for an event which started at 04:45. My start time was about an hour later fortunately. Cue the 9pm bedtime and 2.30am alarm.

A 3 lap course on some fast roads (A14 / A11) meant this BBAR qualification event had a national championship level field with all the top hitters out to record a BBAR time. The SW wind which picked up during the morning probably removed the chance for a competition record – winner Richard Bideau still managed a 3:22:16 which is the 2nd fastest ever 100 and within a minute of the all time record. The top 10 all went sub 3:40

Back to my race – going in I felt prepared due to a recent block of training in Mallorca (highly recommend that place) plus a decent week with no work travel stress and a couple of mid-week evening 10’s in wet and windy conditions. Key was not to overdo things too early, so I started steadily enough and kept eating and drinking. The first 10 miles (16km) went by in 23:20 so I immediately eased back, after the first turn I realised why that felt so easy – a tailwind on the first section! First 40km went by in 1:02, then another 1:02 for the next one. This was looking pretty good, pace felt OK, eating and drinking was no problem and being passed continuously by the BBAR riders riding at sub 3:40 pace allowed me to watch their race unfold in real time.
Third 40km took 1:05 and I could feel that SW wind starting to pick up. A PB was still feasible if I could hold it for the final 40km, however my pace started to wilt severely from km135-155 into the headwind and despite a storming finish, today was not to be the day for the PB. However, 4:16:09 is a great result and although it placed me 52nd of 90 on the day, it meant a lot to me! There is a lot of time for reflection in these long events, and I really felt it was an honour to be riding the old “home roads” of EG legend Brian Philips. His PB and club record was done on these same roads.

So, mid season re-cap – I am getting within a few minutes of those 1990’s PBs over 10,25,50 and now 100 miles – and next year I will be upgraded to Veteran status and can start measuring things by VTTA standard instead!

Over and Out
Ben Houston