The Puncheur

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Had a great ride yesterday on the Puncheur sportive, which started in the village of Ditchling and finished at the top of the famous Ditchling Beacon. I finished with a time of 4hrs 13, squarely in the middle of the silver category. Jonny was very close behind, at 4:16 (see below). It was disappointing to miss gold, and I reckon we could both have had it were it not for:

  1. going off course shortly after the mid-way feed station and losing perhaps 10 minutes retracing our steps.
  2. riding as a two or solo for almost the entire event.

The organisers advised those expecting a faster time to start later on, thus making for a better event, seeing as there were only 300 riders. So we started just after 9am, an hour after the first riders had left. Clearly, though, the faster riders were long gone, and no-one passed us for the whole 110km. Being able to ride in a pack would definitely have lifted our speed, especially in the later stages.

The ride had its moments of drama. At about the 45 mile mark, I pulled away from Jonny on a short climb and heard him groan. Although he later explained this groan was from seeing a large-ish rider up ahead who we had passed about an hour ago (but who had since pulled ahead following our wrong turn), at the time I read it as sign of an approaching bonk. Soon after it looked as though Jon was struggling to keep pace, so instead of waiting in a friendly manner, I rode even faster.

After 45 mins riding at around 85% of my max HR, I cooled it, reasoning that I had a healthy gap. I was running out of steam, once again there was no-one to ride with, and my chain was now dry. A rider who pulled up next to me at the lights said we had 4 miles to go to Ditchling. I figured it was all over. Then, just as I was cruising to the foot of the Beacon, who should overtake me but a grinning Jonny T.

I managed a casual greeting, but secretly I was spewing. Fortunately for me, Jon had burned through his final carb reserves in the pursuit, and was well and truly buried by the cruel final 1km, up the Beacon’s 10% gradient. I’d like to say I pulled away to a Pantani-style finish, but I was pretty ragged by the end. In fairness to Jonny, he did post a PB in the Brighton half-marathon last weekend, and has done less riding than me over the last month (which is all it takes, I reckon). 

All in all a strong showing. 2 weeks to the Burgess Hill Classic, so some rest is in order.

3 Responses to “The Puncheur”

  1. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » The Burgess Hill Classic March 16th, 2009 at 11:25 am

    […] The Puncheur […]

  2. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Sportive poster-boy March 17th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    […] Check it out. The sportivephoto.com home page currently offers a photo of me pseudo-toasting Jonny in the Puncheur. […]

  3. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Puncheur 2010 March 10th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    […] and Paul – as a key test of early-season form, the Puncheur lived up to its reputation from last year: a fast, mostly flat route around the South Downs with excellent food and […]

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