A few guys from Rochdale Tri club had persuaded me to enter the Pendle Witches Vintage Velo Sportive longer route of nearly 60 miles. Some of the faster lads said they would be going so I wanted to show off my stuff. I looked at the website the night before and it looked like a route that I kinda knew and was very familiar with. It also stated entries were via post only so I turned up and took a chance.
Not exactly my usual 5 am wake up call but was out of the house for 6.30am to climb Edenfield road to the Pub HQ in Rawtenstall which is about 16miles from my house. Arrived in good time and met Dan and Jenny ( both Rochdale Tri) +mates. Whilst waiting for the others I managed to register (£10) , affixed number, and drank copious amounts of free coffee available. There was also water if needed. I ogled most of the bikes on display but was more than happy with Jamis's appearance who was constantly in the spotlight. It was close to the start of 9am and Martin rang Dan to say he was 5 mins away so we said we'd set off and he'd catch up. Apparently he set off 30mins after we did. The vintage bikes set of first then 5 groups set off seperately to spread out the riders.
First big climb was just outside Padiham and we formed a group of 6 ish. I went off quickly not expecting anyone to tail me but Dan was fairly close followed by the others. The next big climb was shortly after out of Sabden and you could see the full extent of the beast from a distance at the top of the first climb. Some of the others got a little disheartened but I attacked it as usual and overtook about 20 riders. Once again Dan was only 30m behind and we waited a couple of minutes at the top for the others.
The night before I had changed quite a few bits on Jamis like new lights, changed wheels, tyres dura ace brakes and most importantly an 130mm stem. It puts me in a much more aero position to fight the forces of nature. On the descents Jenny was beating us all due to her super aero position, I held back due to my carbon wheels and specific brake blocks. The trip through Clitheroe was lacklustre due to the regularity of me passing through but the 4 mile gentle to steep climb to Newton was a very welcome distraction. I left the others for dead after a couple of hundred yards and achieved my rhythm in double quick time. I over took a large group near the bottom and was on my own til the top where I waited about 4 mins. There were a few marshalls there whom I chatted to and wished us all luck when we restarted. A chilly descent to Dunsop Bride was where our 'food' stop awaited. On offer were energy bars, flapjacks, drink tablets, chocolate, gels, water and lucozade sport. I took a gel and plonked a 'salt' tablet in my bottle. Jenny and I got a brew, expecting the others to follow suit but as we did the others decided to set off and said that we'd catch them up. Hmmm.
It wasn't long until we did move again and tagged along with a 'fast looking' group mounted on Colnago, Dolan and Cervelo crafted frames with exotic wheels and jerseys to match. Jenny struggled a little on the climbs but was more than a match for them on flats and descents. It was funny watching others try harder as we passed and overtook group after group, must be humiliating to be overtaken by a girl. I started to get severe cramp just after Whalley, so still quite a long way to go, was quite happy to go at Jens pace on the ascents. I had the same problem at swimming on Thursday night, but the legs felt full of energy. I ate my gel and a snack size snickers and drank as much as possible but the only cure was to keep the pressure off the pedals. The worst bit was when I had to stop at a set of lights near Blackburn when both my legs simultaneously tensed involuntarily. I pedalled through the pain which lasted only a couple of minutes and the climbing that followed, I concentrated extra hard on technique, trying to give a constant force what ever the angle of the crank. I kept getting twinges all the way home and just had to lay off standing, and power work.
It was a relief to get back and as we did the guys that left us at the food stop had just finished propping up their bikes so had caught up a fair bit.
I passed on the pie, chips, peas and gravy being offered as part of the fee but took my high 5 goodie bag with loads of 'nutritional ' crap inside as well as a complimentary bottle of lucozade and certificate of completion. I wanted to get a good long ride in as training for a 'surprise' bike ride Pete and I are doing in August. The only other thing I will say about it is Pete had better get some more miles in and lots of them! I climbed Bacup rd and descended past the scene of my little accident on tod rd. I was hurting badly but clenched my teeth tightly and pushed on. The legs were starting to go, was it the legs? or was it my body just telling my legs?
No idea why I got cramp, could be from pushing very hard on the climbs, it wasn't nice anyway.
The actual event was very well run and organised, sign posted well and gave quite good value with a top hilly route thrown in for good measure. Im typing this at 3am the morning after and I am still getting twinges in my muscles.
Distance Sportive 'the Trial' 53 miles + Extra = 105miles
Ascent 8500ft +