Early in the planning for Paris2Nice, the emails, facebook groups and WhatsApp groups all listed the Wicklow 100 as a key checkpoint along the training plan for those looking at doing P2N for the first time, so rather naively I signed up, my rationale was that such a hard event would force me to have the requisite training done, simply to survive.
Once again, of course, I bit off a bit more than I could chew. I’ll be honest, even 10 days out I was planning on just skipping it altogether. But as it happened I had the week off work beforehand, and since we were at the beginning of a heatwave I decided, sure why not.
So, the day before I packed all my kit, including a cooler bag for the car, with a few bits for the finish, figuring I might be a tad under pressure by the end. Having to set a 3AM alarm to get to the start early probably didn’t help things.
Long story short, I got there just about 6AM, got registered, and I think I was on the road around 6.30. Now, just to set how under-cooked I was, the hardest cycle I had done prior to that was 55km, with about 300m of climbing. And that was a struggle.
Within about 2km I found myself struggling up a small hill, with a heart rate of 170BPM. And that set the standard for the day. I was forced off the bike coming out of Enniskerry, up the next long climb, and so it proceeded for the rest of the day. Cycle, walk, cycle, walk, then downhill! Rinse, repeat.
Once I got past the first 10km, I was able to settle into a bit of a rhythm, and by the food stop at about 55km, I was feeling pretty ok. By 65km I was done. Maxed out. Tired. Cooked. Empty.
Of course, there was no other way to get home, so I stopped for a bottle of water at a petrol station somewhere, and just kept trying to spin my legs as much as possible. I probably stopped 10 times in the last 20km, coming up Windgates I just had to stop and sit down on some steps for about 10 minutes, while I contemplated actually just calling for a lift, to do the last few km in the car.
I eventually made it to the top (having walked a got bit). Before I know it I was freewheeling back into Bray Emmets. I’ve never been so happy to see a finish line.
I grabbed a very welcome goodie bag from a volunteer, and my medal, and pedalled as slowly as possible back to the car, where I just sat there, on the ground, leaning on the car door. I got a lot wrong, but at least I had a cold coke!
I suffered like a dog. An absolutely fantastic day. I’ll be back next year to do the 200.