|'Scottie' showing off her new wheels.|
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.