Strava challenge pushing me harder

Pretty much all Strava challenges are impossible to complete. Well, that's my opinion of them anyway.

Most are time, distance or elevation based and if there's a target, then they are normally unachievable. However, there's one recently that I thought was hard but achievable to me. It's called the CTS Bucket List. The challenge is inspired by a real race, The USA Pro Cycling Challenge. From 19th August, over seven days, sixteen teams of the world’s top cyclists took on the thin mountain air of Colorado to race a total of 574 miles (924 km) in this summer’s major US stage race. The Strava challenge is a little easier in the fact us mere mortals were given two weeks to complete it.

So, the challenge was 574 miles in 14 days. Seems doable, right? Well I thought so and I planned how I would take on this challenge. In any normal week I would happily ride 90-140 miles. So, two weeks before the challenge started I worked out I wanted to do a minimum of 150 miles. The week before the challenge, my target was 200 miles. Then each week of the challenge the target would be 287 miles.

150 miles the first week turned into 158 miles and 200 miles the second week was exactly 200 miles. I was getting a little saddle sore and wanted to finish my target by the Friday so I had two days rest before the challenge officially began. As it happens 200 miles in one week is a record for me.

Trying to fit extra miles in for the challenge is a challenge in itself. I had to average 41 miles a day. Only double what I normally do but that's 7 days a week. I decided that I should have one rest day a week. So that upped my daily average mileage to 47.8.

The first week was going well and as part of my schedule I worked out if I averaged 40 miles a day Mon-Fri then on Saturday I could finish the week off with a 100 mile ride and have a rest on Sunday. However, things don't always go to plan. The weather for the first Saturday was horrendous (and also my wedding anniversary) and as no one wanted to ride the 100 miler with me I decided it best to take Saturday as a rest day and shift some of the mileage to the following week. Sunday was forecast to be a little iffy so I rode just 50 miles, shifting the century ride to the Bank Holiday Monday.

First week target: 287 miles
First week actual: 244 miles

Before I tell you about the final week of the challenge, I must tell you about my dilemma. The dilemma I had is that by the time I complete the challenge I'd only be 70 miles away from 1,000 miles for the month and as I'm unlikely to repeat this kind of mileage any time soon it seemed a shame to miss such a milestone. The problem was trying to fit in almost 400 miles in a week!

The second and final week started off extremely well with the 100 mile ride on the Monday. Tuesday was a bit down on target as I needed some recovery time. Wednesday went well with 56 miles but I was starting to get pains in my shoulder from a trapped nerve. By Thursday, tiredness was catching up with me and my planned 30 mile ride before work only ended up as 20 but was subsidised by and extra ride after dinner. Friday was a 30 mile fairly flat ride to work followed by a standard 10 mile ride home.

Saturday was the big one. Although I had until the Sunday to complete the challenge, I had to get 115 miles ridden on Saturday to complete my 1,000 mile month and therefore the Strava challenge. I plotted a fairly flat and picturesque route - my destination was Folkestone. I wanted to take my time and enjoy the ride, rather than get the miles in just for the sake of it. The weather was great and the wind wasn't a problem for most of the day. My trapped nerve wasn't causing me too much grief but as the day went on I had two problems. One was saddle soreness and the other was pressure on my palms. No matter how much I adjusted the only thing that eased either, was to stop. I did stop a number of times, including for fish and chips in Folkestone and an ice cream in Rye. The scenery was breathtaking and often distracted me which was a great help.

I finished the ride and the week with almost 400 miles done with two century rides. I also finished the month with the magical 1,000 miles. I don't know how John Berry does it every month.

Stats for the Strava Challenge:
Rides: 23
Distance: 643.37 mi
Max Distance: 117.57 mi
Time: 45h 23m 43s
Elevation Gain: 4,271 m
Avg Speed: 14.2 mph
Calories: 37,671

Some pictures from my two century rides.

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