Sunday, 24 April 2011
Pendle Witches Vintage Velo '11 Edition
To Work Distance 10miles Av Sp 22.3mph
To Home Distance 20miles Av Sp 20.8mph
PENDLE WITCHES VINTAGE VELO SPORTIVE
Distance 100miles Av Sp 18.1mph Ascent ~7500ft
A few days before I was unsure whether I would be riding alone or with the Tri Club possy. I txt our event and website organiser who said he'd see what he could do as no one had mentioned it at the practice sessions. This event has been going for a few years, a bit earlier last year, beginning of April. Although weather was a bit rubbish it was enjoyed by around 100 peeps.
This years edition was located at an ideal place on the calender, not too early in year and not interfering with any other local events but was unsure whether being an Easter Sunday what effect this would have on numbers. Forecast was cloudy but warm so Scottie was prep'd for what should be a challenging ride with lots of climbs! My plan was to emulate last year and get in my century which nearly killed me last time as I had cramp for 50miles. Only having one spare innertube I searched high and low for patches or anything that could get me home just in case. There was a discarded latex tube behind my cupboard, wooo result. Normally all the spare gear is stuffed into my commuting backpack but shoved it into a saddle pack as knew a photographer was on scene so needed to look my best...sunglasses a must! Couldn't find my long sleeved tri top and wasn't risking a short sleeved one so opted for my old faithful Decathlon jersey with bib shorts.
On setting off second thoughts of continuing clouded my mind as it was bleedin' raining. That effin' fine rain. Plugged on just see how the day would unfold. It was so cloudy that my Garmin couldn't lock satellites for 10 mins. Nice and easy as there was a long way to go. After 5 mins you can just tell how good or bad the legs are going to be for the ride. Actually just a quick trip to the toilet up the stairs can be a good indicator and I knew it would be a productive day.
Climb 1 was Edenfield Rd, traffic lights still there, still raining and still getting warmed up. On hitting the other side the rain dispersed and was suddenly non existant on this side. This lifted my spirits and spotting another roadie further up lifted my speed. I quizzed on his ride intentions then told him of the Sportive. He was tanned like a pro and told of his recent cycling holidays and ones coming up too. He used to road race at Birch as well where I did my last TT. The Craven Heifer pub was upon us and we said our good byes.
The place was crawling with carbon. Just a handful of vintage steel glimmered through the eager crowds. Was I late? No. An hour early! The registration area was well sign posted which bode well for the whole journey. I was merrily greeted by the race organiser in typical 70's retro get up with matching and compulsory beard....all his own. Impressed how he took time out to direct everyone and still mingle with aplomb. Whilst signing on I met Jenny from Rochdale Tri club who now lives in London and did the ride with her last year. Did the obligatory 'catching up' then informed me that Jamie, Jacko and Martin would be turning up. Woohoo nice fast group. Complimentary coffee was downed cup by cup whilst the others turned up. The number 157 was cable tied to the front of Scottie. The eventual numbers exceeding 200. The oldies were called up to the line first then the rest of us were set off in groups of 25.
Climb 2 was upon us from the off, up to Burnley and the speed was bordering on slow to steady as the hour wait had cooled us down. Padiham was the location of Climb 3 to Sabden then ascending to the Nick o'Pendle where the Photographer was lying in wait for his prey. The flashes of his 6-shooter confirmed copious amounts of kills and the expended gigabytes scattered for collation later. 'He climbs like Pantani' I overheard in the distant rear as I carried on with the overtakes, I just smiled to myself.
Climb 4 otherwise known as Waddington fell is where I had most fun. I peeled away from our group and had
Jacko on my wheel. Jacko is no slouch. He competed last year in the ITU Triathlon World Championship Age-groupers in Budapest. I dragged him up the climb and dropped him near the end for a few seconds which I was unaware of as I thought he was shouting at my terrible gear change so eased off a little on a flatter section just before the final steep bit which allowed him to get back on. We waited a little while for the others and then whizzed down towards the feed station. The descents could be taken very fast as there's a good view of the road ahead and the bends are relatively gentle with little traffic. Our group were holding together very well and got many an overtake. There was one guy, out of many, who decided to hog the whole road so after a quick deliberation I darted on the outside of a right hander, giving lots of room as he was virtually on the other side of the road, not saying anything that could upset or startle his nervous flow. I thought nothing more of it.
Jacko felt he should have a turn at the front and led us out for a couple of flat,fast miles to the food stop at Dunsop Bridge where we had goodies awaiting. Sweeties, flapjacks, bananas, high 5 gels and drinks and as much water as we needed were on offer but the star of the show were humongous piles of homemade banana cake supplied courtesy of Rileys Butchers in Burnley. Jamie had at least 4 slices that I know of, myself 3. Just in case were were being too greedy I enquired to what the supply situation was. She piped up that they had a super special cake for reserves. I didn't have any more but took 2 gels for the journey. The best thing about the food stop was that it was always well stocked and riders only took what they thought they needed nothing more. Out of the blue I got a tap on the shoulder. 'That wasn't the best piece of riding you've ever done was it?' Knew instantly what he was referring to and he explained how I shit him up, once I had passed him. He concluded to say he was about to move to where I was coming from. Being the sincere person that I am I apologised and told him to enjoy the rest of the ride ( not being sarcastic or patronising). I nearly said that before he moved he should really have looked but decided against it as I admit my move was a little dodgy.
Before setting off again the others made a unanimous decision to relegate me to the back for the rest of the ride, no idea why. I was then 'volunteered' to chase down groups of riders. We approached, caught and flew by many groups, some of them tagged along at the back. Looking around I could see a peloton, all strung out, of about 30riders behind me being drawn. What a feeling. Up some of the inclines a couple of our group were slowing so I waited then brought them back to the front again. My Garmin 500 breadcrumb trail function was working admirably until one right turn where I was advised to go straight on then 'beeped' at me that I was off course. About 15 followed me and the rest stopped before the turn and followed the correct route. A quick U-turn later and we were back on track and at the front. At this point last year my body was giving up but I sallied forth with all the confidence and energy in the world.
Climb 5 - Whalley Old Rd. Another nice climb surrounded by trees and vegetation which cooled the steaming air around us. There was quite a big head wind so once again the others grabbed their ropes and latched on. I was going quite easy, HR about 153 then one guy decided to sprint past. Fair enough I thought and let him go. I queried with the lads whether they thought that was an attack, of sorts, on us, unsure I carried on at the same pace and caught up within minutes. This guy upped his game possibly to save face and it was my turn, at last!, to get a free ride. There's a fantastic picture which I will buy from the official photgrapher which shows this. Everyone had dispersed by now with minutes seperating individuals. We regrouped at the top.
Homeward bound and only 13miles to go, just one more big climb til the end of 'The Trial' as the organisers had named the route. This caresses the outskirts of Blackburn before heading East towards Haslingdon, aptly named Haslingdon old Rd. Martin decided that he'd saved enough energy to have a go and zoomed off at the start. He gained about 10metres then eased off, waited for Jacko and I then led at a more steady pace. We got a massive helping hand from a tractor just about going above our pace and once on its shit laden wheel we flew up to Haslingdon. Jacko got dropped as Martin and I powered on but kindly waited on a more sedate gradient. Martin wanted for me to 'push on' and leave Jacko but I came out not to ride on my own. Last couple of miles were a gentle pootle downhill back to base. A job well done. about 69miles completed with an average of 17.4mph.
A sea of cyclists covered the melting tarmac the beer garden was sat on, all stuffing their hungry faces with yellow, green and brown stuff otherwise known as pie ,peas, chips and gravy. I think we set off with close to the last group and with all the overtakes was surprised to see so many people back. It goes to show the numbers that actually took part. Downing a pint of coke and scoffing meat and potato pie gave me the conviction to finish off the 100miles. Martins rear wheel had 4 possibly 5 broken spokes, no idea how he made it round the course in one piece. Some crappy Omega wheel he said he just bought from Surosa. After signing out, collecting certificate of completion and obtaining free raleigh t-shirt we all set off together towards Whitworth.
Sittting on Jamies wheel we accidentally dropped the other three, he then turned off for Whitworth and I carried on for the Bacup Rd Ascent. My aim was now to hit over 18mph average, which seemed a tall order but was going to give it as much as I could without killing myself. 10-11mph going up which I barely do on a good day. I had bonked this time last year and ascended at 5mph. So far so good and was still strong all the way back home. Just about hit my goal of 18mph for 100miles.
Thought I would learn from last year and not try too much on the Nick o'Pendle and Waddington fell climbs as they finished me off way before the end of the ride. Today I was 1 year stronger and the all the climbing was a piece of cake. Cramp was non existant and my fuelling strategy more comprehensive. Heart rate only hitting 180 at the final sprint at the peaks. The elation from the day, overall, was tremendous. A legal high. So perfect. A little held back but needed the camaraderie and competition which inspired my confidence and more than made up for that. Also I thrive in the hot sunny weather just as long as I have enough to drink. Absolutely love the heat.
The bike. What can I say? Near perfection. The ride was completed being in the drops for around 90-95% of the time. No punctures either. Comfortable.
Big thankyous for the organisers, volunteers, the Tri Club gang and my missus for letting me out. Initially I was a bit dubious about Sportives, their chosen beneficiaries and how much actually goes to them ( ALL proceeds donated in this case, not true in most) and the escalating costs to enter. However for pure entertainment it beats paying a fortune going to the footie. Possibly my next one will be Polocini's Kegs and Legs at the end of May. £25 for hot food, chip timing, KOM time and for a 70mile hilly route. Was tempted to do Manc-B'Pool again just to get a faster time than 2009 and also the Manc100 which is flat ( so Ive been told) and easy to break 20mph?