Sub7 was a massive achievement and one of the highlights of my career - at 45 to have ridden and run the cycling element; it really is something I’m proud of. Since the event I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and thought I would give you a bit of insight into the project.
“It’s been a while since my last blog but to be completely open and honest, since Sub7 I’ve felt really drained so I have taken some time to reflect. So having taken three weeks totally off the bike and having spent some time with the family it’s made me realise that I personally work best when I have specific goals to work on. I think at the time of writing this I really want to try a bit of everything to keep and improve my overall fitness. I’m going to do a lot of gravel riding over these next few months and I will also look at doing some cyclocross this winter. I’d also like to pick up some running again and possibly do some early season duathlons. But for now I’m going to get back riding and start building some fitness.
So the above is where my head is currently at, but let me rewind a little and talk all about sub7.
What was sub7? Basically it was two athletes going head to head to see if they could break 7-hours for an Ironman distance. Each team was able to select 10 pacers to help them throughout the day to pace each leg. The project started for myself in early October 2021 when I was asked by Richard Melek from Zwift if I would be interested in chatting to Kristian Blummenfelt and his management team which was Adam Acworth (Manager) and Olav Alexander (Coach).
For Kristian they needed a team that could not only ride sub 3:40 for 100 miles but could also ride the new CADEX bikes and wheelsets along with certain items of clothing and other equipment which supported Kristian. With the links I had I was pretty confident that we could not only smash 3:40 but I could get a team of UK’s finest athletes to ride with us. So after two weeks of making calls, we were able to put together one of the strongest teams you could imagine who could fully commit to the next 6 months of training.
Here’s a list of the riders we selected:
- Chris Fennal
- Adam Duggleby
- Thomas Hutchinson
- Phil Williams
- Axel Dopfer
- Gruff Lewis
- Kyle Gordon
- William Perret
The first point of call was arranging a training camp which we did in the Dordogne area of France. The riders would get to test the Giant and CADEX bikes and get to meet Kristian along with his coaching team. We all hit it off straight away, it took a few days to fall into line and work out the best formation of riders but by the end of the week we did a full 30-miles at well under the pace on a technical circuit so we came away knowing that breaking 3:40 for 112-miles was well within our grasp.
It was then onto testing 80-miles at race pace.
On May 3rd we decided to do a full dress rehearsal for the event without Kristian present - this process was done to gather some data and look at the pace we could sustain. it was also going to be a true test to see if I could hold the pace myself. I’m not going to lie, I was so nervous to see if it was possible but I was relieved to hold the pace and with good HR and good power I was also able to pull my turns at the front. The guys did an awesome job and you could really feel the banter and momentum building within the team.
With the test event then completed we decided that we would be best to have a full week training camp. Tom Davies and Andy Wollney had a contact in Amsterdam where we could use a fully closed cycle track and spend a full week building the atmosphere within the team and also start the process of testing out the new CADEX bike (more on this in another blog). Also, most days we spent many hours testing different ways of riding to set Kristian up for the fastest overall time. I would act as a sweeper to take the changes in pace and Kristian would follow me through, the guys would then take full turns between 90-seconds to 3-minutes depending on their strength and aerodynamic drag of 400-450 watts.
The week flew by and before we knew it we were on our way and driving to Dresden. We were then joined by the rest of the team and the atmosphere was just starting to build throughout the week. We all had a clear direction of looking at each discipline and breaking each portion down; so that overall we would have the fastest time.
The day came and we all knew our role to play. With a lead of 5-minutes from the swim. We were able to settle into our rhythm without spiking the power and having total control. The new CADEX bike handled a dream and the speeds we were travelling at were insane - our average speed for the 112 miles was 32.8mph. With the new hydration and fuelling pod for gels, the bike really did us all proud. We were all so happy with our time of 3:24:22. Kristian then went on to finish with the fastest run split and at an incredible overall time of 6:44:25.
So now it’s time to get back to training and see what event comes along next".
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