Escaping from the City

I did the Escape From The City sportive on Sunday May 25. Like the Isle of Wight Randonnée it’s a 70 mile circuit route. It’s slightly less elevation gain (933m versus 1137 according to my iPhone). I got the pacing very wrong on the IoW Rando this year and I was determined not to make the same mistake again.

My complete trace is on Strava, and I have also made segments for the whole thing and the three discrete sections: start to first feed, first feed to second feed, second feed to finish.

Before I go into any analysis I would like to say that the event organisation was brilliant. It really makes a big difference to know that there are feed stations on the route where you are guaranteed to be able to get water and snacks. I thought it was odd when I found out that the first feed station was almost at the halfway point, and the second was only 17km from the finish; but in actuality this seemed pretty-much perfect spacing to me. You certainly want the first leg to be the longest because you start it as fresh as you’ll ever be. In view of this, if you’re ever doing the Isle of Wight Rando, and have free choice of start location, I recommend starting at the Ventor checkpoint near the southern point of the island so you get the two long legs to Yarmouth and then Cowes out of the way early on.

I was planning to take it easy in the first two sections and then ramp it up in the third, riding a so-called negative split. I seem to have executed that plan quite well: my average power numbers for the sections were 104W, 106W and 152W. Without the power meter I might have looked at average speed and concluded I had failed to implement my plan: 21.1kph, 16.3kph and 27.4kph.

All three sections are over similar terrain, so the speed difference is largely explained by two factors: the middle sector includes roughly 16 minutes of waiting around and debating the meaning of an abnormally positioned route sign; and the wind was generally with us in section 1 and against in sections 2 and 3. The average speed in section 2 while I was moving is more like 18kph (and average power is also higher of course at 117W). The wind was so extreme that at one point I was climbing a moderately-steep hill shaded from the wind, crested the climb onto the flat but exposed to the wind plateau and had to change down two gears because the wind was a more serious adversary than gravity had been.

A bit more than 10K from the end I was passed by a chap in full Twenty3C kit who was going quite a lot faster than I was at the time. I decided to try and chase him down and see how long I could hang on in the draft; as it turned out I managed to hang on all the way home. If it had been a tailwind he would have dropped me for sure. My worst moment was in a crosswind from the right: I couldn’t stay in the draft because that was off the left edge of the road; I think he backed off a little because his deep-section Zipp 404 wheels were causing him some handling problems. I made a segment for that part of the ride to see if I could guess who it was that I followed because we should have almost exactly the same time.

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