Posted by: audaxing | April 14, 2014

How to have a bad patch

With endurance events, one thing you have to learn to cope with is “having a bad patch”

At the weekend I rode the excellent Elenydd 300km event. There were 104 starters and 103 finishers on the event. The main problem factor on the Elenydd, which explores the mountain passes in mid Wales, is the weather. This year the weather was quite benign.

However, I did experience some difficulties. The event started at 7am and there was a marvellous vista of the sunrise as we came around the first bend. I was going ok to start with. However, after just a few km I started to get a gut ache. Additionally, my GPS unit was playing up. So while I had a route sheet too and I was happy with the route sheet, I couldn’t retrace the laney route at the start easily. I had to press on. I tried to sort myself out at the first control* at Shobdon Airfield but the pain continued.

The trouble is with something like this is that you don’t feel like going fast at all. When a useful group of riders passes you, instead of hopping on the back and getting a tow, you just let them go. This is one of the problems with a bad patch. Probably if I pushed myself I could keep with the passing fast group. The nature of the “bad patch” is that it messes with your level of motivation. Whatever the cause, the outcome is less “get up and go”

In Builth Wells, I had a planned stop for food. I had the most rotten cup of coffee of the year so far. However, after this my body decided it would work again. By the time I got to the feared “Devil’s Staircase” ascent on the Tregaron mountain road I was able to go up the whole thing without walking. And all the subsequent climbs on that road. The bowls club at Tregaron was, as usual, a marvellous experience. This is the turn around point. All day we’d had a bit of a headwind. And for once, riding back we had a tailwind! At Rhayader things got even better. I had a really good coffee at the Strand cafe- good thing one. I tried my GPS again. This time it started to work properly – good thing two. After that the ride back was fast and not difficult. Having a working GPS helps with speed, especially in the dark. You can “see” the turns on the GPS before they are visible.

So I had a bad patch for the first 100km. But I kept rolling and it went away. This is what happens with a lot of discouraging things on long rides. It just so happened that I had my bad bit at the start. Keep moving, keep eating and drinking – the bad patch will end.

* yes this is a euphemism


  1. Sounds like quite a long bad patch but well done for sticking with it and having more fun as the ride went on.

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