Monday, 22 March 2010

Kapiti Cycle Challenge 2010

I was feeling exciting heading into the Kapiti Cycle Challenge. This is one of, if not my most favourite course over which annual fun ride events are held. With testing hills that will not  completely destroying your spirits, intertwined with the fast flat sections down the Kapiti Coast and up the Hutt Valley in-between it offers a bit of everything.

Ride Data:
Distance: 91.17km 4,649 Calories
Time: 3:09:30 28.9km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 1,096m Descent: 1,087m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Wellington, NZ 21 March 2010
I went into the ride encouraged with improved hill climbing the previous week during the HospiBikeRide. It had been some while since my last cycling personal best, surely today I could manage one?  My nephew, Jordan had been staying for the weekend. After watching his two consecutive 800m personal bests at the North Island Secondary Schools Athletics Champs he kindly calculated his improvement over the previous twelve months and gave me a time to beat to the nearest second. From memory that was about 8 minutes faster than my 2009 time of 3h31m5s.hew, nailed it with an almost 22 minute improvement in 3h9m30s YAY!!

After the pre-ride safety briefing the mass start went on time at 8:30am. Unfortunately, we came around the first corner and it it was a large peloton hard on the brakes and trying not to make contact with other bikes and riders. The north-bound Overlander train was running a few minutes late. Once the train was through it was over the railway and a brisk pace in the peloton down State Highway 1 to the Paekakariki township before turning left up the Paekakariki hill climb.

This year when ascending Paekakariki there were not masses of riders passing me. I was actually gaining places! Wow! Even on the steep sections. This was a most unusual situation for me and usual lead balloon like approach to hill climbing. The training is paying off. Awesome :). I reached the top of the first climb in a shade over 40 minutes. Wow! 12 minutes ahead of last year in only 20km.

With the help of one other rider we had about a dozen riders in tow from Pahatanui. No amount of encouragement could seem to bring any other riders forward to share the lead. They were just holding on and were only interested in drafting today. By the Haywards Hill summit the rest of the group drop off with just the two of us left for the rapid descent down into the Hutt Valley.

Once into the Hutt Valley we found ourselves in a larger group. Once again lacking in ambition to lead and build good pace. The guy I was riding with up Haywards seemed to be tiring and I found myself oscillating between the front and peeling off to the back until frustration at sub-25km/h pace going straight back to the front. It was difficult to establish any consistent speed along this section as shown in the speed and altitude profile below. I possibly did a bit too much work in this section but my personal goals related to time and not placings. Sitting back and having a rest at 25km/h was not going achieve a significant personal best time. Fortunately shortly before turning for the climb up into to the rides highest point over the Akatarawas a very strong rider in wearing a Marmite jersey took a long strong lead.

Kapiti Cycle Challenge: Elevation and Speed profile

The ascent up the 440m Akatawara Hill begins with natural terraces offering short climbs followed by flattish travel. It doesn’t get very steep until the final push for the the summit. During the climb as is usually the case the group we were riding in broke up. Some strong riders that had taken a ‘breather’ earlier took off from the front. A few of us were left around the middle while those that were just trying to hold on to the group up the Hutt Valley disappeared behind.

After winding up the Akatawara Road and over the summit I was greeted by nice, smooth new ‘hotmix’ tarseal on the descending side. Very nice for riding on compared to the usual ‘chipseal’ style road surfaces on most New Zealand. With a narrow and twisty descent to Reikorangi although nicer to ride on and rolling smoother the turns and in ability to see around corners did not exactly allow any speed records on what is a rapid descent.

I crossed the line reasonably strongly showing improving fitness and durability compared to the start of the cycling season in spring. The remaining question being, can I find sufficient improvement to find a further 9m30s time saving to break the 3 hour mark for the third running of the Kapiti Cycle Challenge next March?