Covid having put paid to her 2020, ‘End to End’ bid after her brave but ultimately unsuccessful 2019 attempt, Christina Mackenzie (Stirlingshire Bicycle Club) had to re-focus and made the CTT 12 Hour Championship her goal for the year.
‘Mission accomplished,’ winning by some 12 miles with a provisional 251.64 miles on a tough course in equally tough conditions.
VeloVeritas caught up with the 43 year-old a few days after her successful ride as she enjoyed some down time back home on the ‘Long Isle’ in Lewis.
Congratulations Christina, is that winning 251 miles distance a personal best for you?
“No, I did 256 miles in the Breckland ’12’ in 2018 but the championship course was tough with around 8,000 ft. of elevation and circuits on small country roads.
“The Breckland course is flat and the roads have a lot more traffic on them so I guess you get a lot more draft assistance from passing vehicles – but it can be awfully busy.”
How did you pace the ride?
“Initially my goal was 260 miles but then they changed the course at the last minute due to road works – we knew it was possible that they might change it but it was only confirmed 24 hours prior.
“That threw all my power targets, the opening miles just to get to the first circuit had a lot of climbing in them so from the word ‘go’ my pacing strategy was upset.”
So a tough course combined with pretty grim weather?
“Yes, good Hebridean conditions – strong winds and rain!
“The first hours were nice, calm and mild but after about four hours it started to rain, frequent heavy downpours rather than steady rain – it was bouncing off the tar.
“The 12 mile circuit was on little farm roads, at one section there was a farmer taking his cows across the road.
“I was familiar with it because I’ve ridden 12 and 24 hour events which cover the same roads.”
Did you have any ‘bad patches?’
“I wouldn’t say ‘bad patches,’ my ride was pretty consistent but your head can’t help but go down in rain like that and with the visibility so bad – but you just have to keep going, don’t you?”
What about nutrition?
“I used SiS electrolyte drinks, bars and gels, making sure take on 60 grams of carbs each hour.
“I always have a good breakfast first but find I function best on gels and energy bars in a ‘12’ than on ‘normal’ foods – it’s different for longer rides.
“I had some good old Coca Cola on the finishing circuits but your mouth can get sick of sweet stuff so I make sure I have savoury energy bars too.”
What about support?
“I usually have four people on my team but due to Covid restrictions I just had one, Norrie Petrie who was my hard working supporter-cum-mechanic for the ride.
“There was a bit of a mix up with support crews when the organisers directed us on to another circuit but didn’t tell helpers who were waiting in vain by the road side.
“I was on my own for around half-an-hour but fortunately had enough food in my pockets.”
A new bike for this year?
“Yes a Giant ‘Liv’ time trial bike.
“It’s really good, I spent time with Drew Wilson on my bike fit, getting it right for 52 hours on the road in the ‘End to End.’
“It’s a compromise between aero and comfort – I noticed that some of the other girls were using low aero positions but I don’t think that’s the best for 12 hours.
“Drew changed the handlebars to get me into what’s a very comfortable position.”
And you’re a Gary Hand, Espresso Coaching disciple now?
“Yes, since last October; it’s been a good move, Gary has introduced a lot of variety into my training, I never know what’s coming next and that keeps it interesting.
“It’s mostly power-based but he’s not just been coaching on me on training, he’s given me a lot of advice on nutrition and “I’ve shed a few kilos to help me get up Berriedale Brae in the ‘End to End.’
“There’s almost 9,000 metres of climbing between Land’s End and John O’Groats so every kilo lost makes all that climbing so much easier.
“Gay is based in the USA now but our communication is all on-line so it doesn’t change the relationship.”
“The ‘12’ was my goal for the year when it became inevitable that I’d have to shelve another ‘End to End’ bid, so I’m finished racing for the year – there’s no Scottish ‘100’ Championship this year and I’m not keen to do 10, 25 and 50 mile time trials.
“The focus now is on the ‘End to End’ in 2021.
“The attempt will be some time after June 1st, we’ll put in notice to the Road Records Association and then look for the most favourable conditions; a south westerly wind is obviously what you want.”
Lessons learned from last year’s attempt?
“Nutrition is one thing I did learn a lot about, I had acid reflux during the ride and that was down to eating the wrong types of food – so we’ll know better next time.
“And just mentally knowing what to expect, the A9 north out of Perth is a hard test, you pass through Perth around 9:30 pm and it’s still light and pleasant but then as darkness falls you get cold and there’s all that climbing over the Drumochter and Slochd summits but it’s so dark you can’t see that well on the descents.
“And we’re definitely going to hire a motorhome rather than just using cars or vans, that will be make a significant difference and make life easier.”
All the training is focussed toward that now?
“I’ll have a few weeks off then start in October, getting the miles in and doing turbo sessions – just maintaining fitness until the good weather comes along.”
VeloVeritas wishes Christina the best of luck for her 2021 bid and will be roadside again to ‘give her a shout.’