Saturday, 4 April 2009

Cycle: 2009 Graperide

Ride Data:
Distance:101km4658 Calories
Time:3:27:2529.2 km/h
Elevation:Ascent: 692mDescent: 687m
Ride Data:Garmin Connect PlayerMapMyRide
Location:Blenheim, NZ4 April 2009

The Grape Ride is a relatively flat, 101km fun ride through the wine growing region of Marlborough.

It seemed an ideal event to try and work on increasing my recently disappointing pace. Having a best time over this distance of 2:42, I thought I had conservatively placed myself in the 3 - 3:30 starting group with bibs numbered 2000 to 2999. I was hoping to slip in at around 3 hours, but that is going to need to wait until next year. Yep, too fat, too slooow again. That said, on the plus side I am seeing my average cadence rate increasing which should help my speed and recovery in the long term? Fingers crossed anyway :).

The start was staggered and released in very small bunches. It was a very compressed starting area with thousand or so cyclists in the middle of the Forrest Estate vineyard. That said, they put on a great atmosphere with their location and sponsorship of this event. At the start area there is very little room to move, making it tricky to get into the exact place you prefer, e.g. near the front of your desired starting group, or for many it appeared even into their desired starting bunch. It took over 30 minutes from the gun, before the small bunch I was released with made it to the start line.

Mental note: Get to the start uber-early next year to be at the front of my starting group

Once across the startline, I quickly caught a bunch of 100 or so heading towards Blenhiem. The 20km/h along the flat was too irritating for me, so I cleanly made way to the front of the bunch. Through to Blenheim in good time at ~36km/h, with 50-60 passengers remaining.

From Blenhiem, the going was slower as we turned left into a headwind towards Picton. Our bunch had 4-5 workers at the front of our bunch a large trail behind us. As we hit the small hills on the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive the bunch soon broke up, and the mixed ability of the 20 or still on the front of the bunch became apparent. I saw the same people come past me on every incline :(, and then I went past them on each descent :).

Unfortunately, I dropped off the back of this group while eating and drinking into the headwind as we headed towards Havelock. I was unable to find my way back on and was really starting to feel my legs, possibly a result of the previous weekend hilly ride at Le Race.

Mental note, learn to use my drink-bottles with my left hand so that I can still change gears and stay with the bunch

Thankfully, it was an uneventful day for me, but I was surprised at the number of crashes that had occurred in front of me. I saw St John cleaning up three people who had heavy bunch crashes from what I could tell. Some concerntration lapses in front of me that made me pleased to be slow off the start-line. I was also directly behind someone's rear whell as their derailleur hanger broke, sending their rear derailleur going straight into their backwheel. An unfortunate and expensive ride for them today.

I really enjoyed the finish through a flat and twisting lane among the grape vines. I found it fun putting in my final dash through there.

I finished in 3:27:25 this year which leaves me a good half-hour to try and chop off my finishing time next year.

You can see more of this event in this Youtube Video - of people who were a long, long way in front of me.

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