IPWR training ride

As part of my preparation for the IPWR, I conducted another ride over the Australia day weekend. Being a long weekend the plan was to complete the 820kms over three days over the same course I used the qualifying ride(but complete the loop this time), in the end, I cracked the 820kms in two days. It was a good hit out with some things breaking and some harsh conditions. Ironically I was happy it wasn’t all smooth sailing, it was good to have things break and fall off, to see what needed fixing for the real thing in March.

The significant change for this ride was the removal of the frame bag. In its place, I strapped just the tool case and tubes to the frame, with the rest going into a “day” pack attached to the seat bag. The big upside to this configuration was easy access to the water bottles.

A side on view showing the new configuration

The other was a change of wheels, after destroying the Pro-lite wheels on a decent from Mt Glorious the week before. The replacement wheels, a set of Vision Trimax T42 wheels and overall they performed very well. Combined with some 25cc tyres, they offered a comfortable ride, did not get affected by crosswinds and the aluminium rims provided much better braking than the full carbon Pro-lite wheels.

Day one – 415kms

The day got off to a bad start with one of the new 1 litre bidons ejecting itself before sunrise. I initially thought the bidon was broken, which would have severely hampered my ride. However, it had only come apart. So after scrounging around in the dark, I managed to find all the pieces, and after a quick water stop in Beerwah, I was on my way.

Next, the power meter started playing up. Not critical but for a data junkie like me it was annoying not to be capturing this data. Eventually, I gave up and completely disabled the power meter. After the ride, I discovered one of the Garmin vector two pods was damaged by the chain.

Somewhere near Pomona, about 180k into the ride, the day bag, which was attached to the seat bag fell off but stayed hanging on due to the attached safety strap. Ironically the strap almost caused the bag to swing into the drive chain, which could have been catastrophic.

Just before Kilkivan (266kms), it started to rain, the light rain was a welcome relief from the heat, and I managed to get into town and under cover before the heavy rain started. The heavy rain lasted for about 15 minutes and was a good excuse for a break. I was wet, but the shoes were dry so on balance, I was happy with that.

Coming into Goomeri, I copped a bee sting, a minor annoyance but resolved it was there to toughen me up.

Unlike the first ride, I made it to Kingaroy before dark; I was feeling good and determined to push on. I attribute this to the I was eating and my determination to take shorter breaks off the bike. Also, I believe it was easier because I was familiar with the route after riding it for the qualification ride.

Riding on the country roads at night was a new experience. While I was a little apprehensive, the reality is the roads are quiet, it’s cooler, and you have great awareness of approaching cars. I quickly settled into a rhythm and continued to ride.

I had planned to stop at MaidenWell, but it was only 2000h, and I was on 399kms. Yeah right! I was going to stop on 399kms! So I pushed on.

I arrived in Cooyar around 2030h, and with a storm on the horizon I figured this would be a good place to stop for the night. Being Australia Day, the Cooyar hotel was in full swing, but the publican was helpful and friendly, setting a room up for me and finding me a feed. While I waited for dinner, I enjoyed a couple of beers and did they go down well. All up I was showered, and everything sorted by 0930h and was in bed.

Day two – 412kms

The day started 0230h, I was feeling surprisingly good, the legs had recovered well, and I was on the road by 0300h. I made good early progress riding through the early morning hours. It’s quiet, cool and great time for some personal reflection. But after 2.5 hours I was really tired/sleepy. A short break, some caffeine tabs and I was right to go; it was amazing what a difference it made.

I stopped in Dalby for breakfast; it was still only 0600h so nothing was only except for McDonalds, so a Maccas breakfast it was. Two breakfast burgers, two hash browns and a large coffee. That hit the spot, and with no shops open to resupply, I pushed on.

From Dalby to Cecil Plains was all good riding, cool and a slight tailwind made it easy going. It was a quick resup in Cecil Plains and back on the road. By this time it was warming up and turning east back to Brisbane, it was going to be headwinds for the rest of the day. All up another 250kms of heat and headwinds. The one upside of the headwind, it provided more airflow, I felt cooler for it. So despite the heat, I was feeling pretty good, but it was slow going.

The back roads to Pittsworth were quiet and in a rather poor condition and this is where I broke the left armrest on my aero bars. Another good lesson for the big ride and something that will need to be reinforced to support my weight.

I stopped in Pittsworth and Clifton for food and water and kept going, still feeling pretty good. While the headwind was a pain I had a good tempo going and kept the bike rolling, all the time trying to keep the break time to a minimum.

The last major stop was in Gatton. I was starting to feel it, but with only 100kms to go I was determined to push on and finish. At this point, I had a change in course, initially the plan was to ride home via Lowood but it was getting dark, being unsure of the route and with a low battery on my phone and no map I figured it was not a good course of action. So I ended up riding home via Laidley to Ipswich, a route I have travelled many times before.

So what is the deal with Ipswich? I ride 750kms without being hassled once. Riding through Ipswich in the space of an hour, hassled three times. Anyway, after escaping Ipswich, I was feeling drained or maybe I just slowed down to enjoy the night ride. Either way, it was good to get home.

So what worked?
After experiencing considerable foot pain on the qualification ride, I purchased some new shoes, half a size bigger and softer than my Sidi shoes. They don’t have the support the Sidi have, and it feels like you are riding in slippers, but for the long rides, they worked well and no sore feet.

Brooks C13 saddle, for this ride I changed to the wider 158mm Brooks C13 saddle, and it was simply awesome. After 820k in 2 days, not a hint of saddle soreness, enough said.

For this ride, I dropped the Frame bag, and I have to say it was a good move. I still made use of this space by strapping my tool case and tubes to the top tube. I didn’t need the storage in the frame bag, and it made getting the water bottles easier. However, the day bag idea needs to be refined and easier to access.

IGA and Foodworks. You can get all your supplies at a reasonable price, and most them have hot takeaway food as well. Which helped make for a quick stop.

What didn’t work?
Solar power bank. I discovered too late that if any part of the solar panel is covered the unit won’t charge and even then it seemed to charge so slowly that I am not sure how useful it would be. I ended up losing the power bank because it was poorly attached in an effort to get it to charge. As an alternative, I’ve opted for a power bank with fast charging. The idea being it should charge in 3 to 4 hours while I sleep and not having to worry about it on top so it can charge means the unit can be firmly stored away, so I don’t lose it.

My big takeaway from this ride is not to overextend myself. In part, this was confirmed by reading several blogs about the IPWR and clearly where people get into trouble is pushing on when they should have rested. For the race, I will aim to average 350k a day. I won’t consider riding through the night as I believe a good night’s rest is essential for fatigue management and to allow a proper recovery so you can keep going.