The temperature managed to stay just above freezing on Sunday morning and the roads didn’t seem to be icy, so it was with some zeal that I set out at 8am kitted out in winter gear ready to tackle the 2015 Harp Hilly Hundred.
This ride is one of a series of ‘Reliability Rides’ held throughout the winter. I don’t quite understand what that means but I assume that it alludes to the harsher winter conditions and the possibility that your bike might break down. The Hilly Hundred has been run every year since 1954 and (thankfully) at some point was reduced from its original 100mi length to a more reasonable 100km.
It was a tough ride, taking us through lots of hills in the surrounding area—Bison Hill near Whipsnade, Aston Hill near Wendover, Ivinghoe Beacon and a personal favourite of mine, Durrants Lane in Berkhamsted. I managed to get around whist consuming the contents of two drinks bottles, three energy gels and three energy bars and still had room for a massive plate of sandwiches and a pastry that was laid on at the end of the ride.
Looking at the Strava times for the Harp Hilly Hundred 2015 ‘segment’ my conclusion is—just as I thought—that I’m not very good. I’ve never done much group riding before and every time I try and keep up with a group I end up falling behind and dropping out. As well as physical strength there is a psychological factor to it and I much prefer to go at my own pace. The only time I managed to pass anyone was towards the end when riders were suffering from cramp (and I had to stop to help one of the guys out by giving him a spare energy gel as he was on his last legs!)
I’m taking my bike for a small service on Friday. As part of that I will be changing the rear cassette from a 12-28 to an 11-30 which should give me both a larger and smaller gear than what I have now, the smaller being something I think I might need for our long climb into the Alps in May. I am also considering changing the chain rings from 46×36 to a 50×34 which is more ‘roadie’ although I am not sure how much difference this will make to my speed. Any advice gratefully received!