Monday, 6 June 2011

Polka Dot Challenge

'Scottie' showing off her new wheels.
My Route

Rain! Where did that come from? 'The sky' my missus muffledly mumbles out. 'Go back to sleep!' I scream without trying to sound too pissed off. Straight to the computer to look up the days forecast and it is supposed to be dry when the rain passes. I removed the wheels from Scottie and rammed everything into the back of the car then emptied the contents of my backpack on to the front seat for easy pickings later. There was soo much stuff in my super XL saddle pack that there must have been at least an extra 2 kilos to lug around the course. Quickly loaded the course up to Gamin and got the sat nav working on my new el cheapo but feature packed phone. ( until new Iphone appears. A treat as my last phone was 7 years old and just about does colour) Start line was only 30 mins down the motorway. Result, thought it was miles away.

Arrived 6.45, possibly second there, at Woodford Community Centre. Had a nice chat with one of the organisers. ( Always seem to attract their attention as I never try to go out of my way to talk to anyone :(, just me being me.) Sign on was 7.15 but was able to collect my number straight away. The rest of the time was spent waiting, looking at bikes and going the the toilet several times. My new wheels didn't seem to attract as much attention as I expected and I proceeded to the start line anonymously. The rain had stopped by now but had left a nasty chill in the air. I covered my top half with my rain jacket but left my legs exposed.

Set off at the rear of the first group and already a split appeared. Two blazed ahead, one from Janus RC and another from Bury Clarion. Easing past the bunch I went on the chase without commiting myself.  I caught the Janus guy just before the first climb due to traffic lights and he led for a while. He was skinny and slight and thought I'd struggle to keep up with him on the climbs but I was doing well and keeping in touch. By the  brickworks climb we had caught the first guy and at the start of Windgather had left him for dead. Janus guy tried to shake me off and succeeded on one of steepest points but I regained my composure and caught up again before the top.

It was at this point he realised he wasn't going to get rid of me that easily and we had a chat and got to know each other and started to work together. He's a TT'er, just getting into road racing. His best 10miles is 21min30! Jesus. Then it hit me that I'd forgotten my water bottle. The other guy offered me one of his but I declined as then I decided to do the shorter route. Goyt valley was next and into a blazing head wind made life difficult. We looked back and could see quite a distance, there was no one near us. Flash came and went, another tough climb but taken within our stride and the photographer took a few snaps. I dont really know how I was keeping up as my legs were not good at all, I couldn't stand up which I love doing as I can fly up climbs but this time when I tried I kept losing ground so in the saddle it was all the way around - not my style. The past month they have been constantly stiff even with all the stretching I do. Wasn't too sure if we were going the right way as we hadn't seen a sign post for ages. I looked on Garmin but the route wasn't being followed and it turned itself off and then it froze so I couldn't do anything with it. Useless pile of crap.
'Crowdecote' signs appeared, that rung a bell then a 20% sign for 3/4 mile hid round the corner. Janus guy overtook but once in my rhythm I started to claw back the lost ground.

The first feed station was ahead on a slighly less steep incline just before the top of Crowdecote. The marshalls confirmed we were the first and I had a flapjack and cake. A lovely woman found me a bottle to put some water in so I could carry on. Still doing the 54 mile route as the swiftness I downed the water suggested I was already dehydrated. The stop only lasted a minute or 2 and we carried on. This is where things started to go wrong. Our turnoffs were supposed to be 1/4 mile after the food station, looking at a map afterwards. We didn't see anything so carried on forward til the A515. There were arrows all over the show which looked like they were all in the wrong direction. I knew there was a left turn somewhere so thats where I went after a 5min deliberation and Janus guy went straight on to do the 100mile loop in reverse!

I ended up in Buxton, thats when I got my phone out to try out its capabilities. Must have stopped for 15mins +. Asked a few guys and eventually I was back on track climbing the Cat and Fiddle.

Cramp was setting in now. Just getting a few niggles and tingles but was going at a good steady rate. Over took another 'Spudder'. He must have been one of the first, then I saw two more in the distance and went to chase them down. Once I passed them I realised that they didn't have the same timing chips and numbers as me, they were doing the 'Evans Ride it' Sportive which was being held in the same area and our courses overlapped. 'Dead mans hill' was next and that's were I really suffered pain. So close to the top, if I could just get over..... but no. Cramp got so bad I had to stop and get off for another 5 - 10mins. The cold didn't help one bit and must have played a big part in my muscles seizing. My leg was unable to complete a revolution of the pedal as it felt like my tendon would snap. I got re overtook by the guy on the Cat and Fiddle. I went to chase him down once the pain and tightening had subsided, which never reoccurred. Caught him about 3 miles from base and drafted him for the whole lot.

Soo happy to get back in one piece. The free coffee and juice helped alleviate any residing 'hypothermia' and dehydration. Hopped straight in the car and went home as soon as possible for a Sunday lunch. Before doing so I got my time for the route.

3hrs 50mins, 60 miles, 6000ft climbing, which, considering I did 6 extra miles and stopped for about 30-40mins isn't bad. One of the fast,' pro looking' guys got 3hrs15 so I wasn't far off really.

Generally the route was excellent, however I didn't enjoy most of it due to the ferocity of the wind, cold and dullness and possibly also due to my fragile mental state on the bike.


  1. very amusing piece,the bit about the rain in the morning made me laugh out loud as i did exact same thing. did the 103 mile route myself, and yesterday said never again! but today im buzzing!(and aching) but cant wait to do it again,thats just odd! took me over 8 hours, but recon i can get that down to 7 somthing, 7.59 will do. my brother finished with me, think he would be happy to stick to over 8 hours!just wont tell him.excellent route beautiful country side,ok weather,great climbs!(on the way down)top speed 50 mph, and the best bit of it all... home made banana cake.

  2. You're a better man than I was! No buzz from me, or ache though. Did I miss the banana cake? I had some dry brown stuff with raisins in or was it at the 2nd feed? You got any more rides planned? I just take them as they come.

  3. Selina & Sarah8 June 2011 at 19:58

    Nice report! Very amusing!

    We had a bit of a shocker on Sunday as well..

    Dragging my road bike up from the cellar I remember that the valve is broken and needs fixing as I can't inflate it. It had been like that for a while and I had been making do.

    Wrestle with the tyre for 40 mins (why aren't road tyres as simple as mtb tyres!) and eventually manage to fit a new inner tube. Inflate new inner tube, valve thing bends and then snaps and all air gushes out. Replace inner tube with new inner tube and eventually set off nearly an hour later than planned.

    Arrive at Woodford Community Centre with a minute to spare to register. Get registered, unload the car and realise that my SPD shoes are still in my living room.

    I peg it home in the car, get the shoes and arrive back at Woodford at about 10:15am. The organisers are still there and let us start the ride... off we go.

    We struggle with both the wind and our motivation (being 90 mins behind everyone else and not seeing a single other rider is a bit rubbish!) and got a bit confused at exactly the same point you did... We hadn't seen a sign for ages before Crowdecote and thought we'd gone the wrong way, had to get phone out and download route pdf to confirm we were still OK!

    Continue up Crowdecote (really struggling by now and absolutely desperate for the feed station) only to find that the feed station had packed up and gone home! Aaarrgghh.

    We turn off on the 54 mile route, hungry and miserable, and see a pub not far down the road... The Quiet Woman. We stop here for a 45 minute Coke and Crisps rest and a chat to some hikers.

    We carry on, rejuvenated, and eventually finish the ride just as the rain is started to come down.

    The men at the finish line joke about our backpacks (we're mountain bikers, not roadies!) and we head inside for coffee and biscuits!

    Later that evening, we check for the results and discover that we have been mistakenly listed in the 100 mile results, not the 54 mile! 3rd and 5th place! Not bad considering we spent 15 mins faffing with my phone and 45 mins in the pub!

    That was my first ever sportive or anything of this kind - absolutely loved it! Will definitely be back next year!

  4. Just realised how much i wrote! Verbal diarrhoea - sorry!

  5. ha ha! prob was just brown stuff,with raisins! seemed nice at the time, just being romantic. got another ride planed next weekend,in chelmsford essex,60 miles, mainley flat. going to ride it on my old sturmey archer 3 geared bsa! might put some tri bars on it for a laugh. will let u know how i get on, and inform you of any cake like substance on offer.