Garmin Stats Distance 60miles Av Sp 20.7mph Ascent 2800ft ( garmin wrong) Hr 157 Cad 80
The weather forecast was supposed to be decent for this ride on Sunday. However the sun took a lot longer to materialise and the rain clouds had spread all across the North West instead of being localised. That happens everytime I plan on using 'Scottie' and her funky wheels. I took her out anyway with the prospect of knowing I would have to spend ages cleaning her afterwards and I didn't want to back out as my weeks training was planned with this ride as a part of it.
'Entry on the line' (Where have I heard that before?) Yet again I hadn't pre-booked my place and but when I strutted up to the desk waving £10 notes furiously infront of the organisers faces I was turned away, saying they had no provision for 'EOL' and not enough food to go around but I was welcome to join everyone anyway but I wouldn't be insured. I have my own insurance. Hmmmm maybe because of everything on offer they only 'catered' for a certain number. They did say I could wait until everyone had set off and see how many hadn't turned up. Not a problem as they didn't have any official timing systems in place so I just readied my bike and joined the rear of the the pack awaiting 9am off time. Before that though I was approached by Chris Byrne, although I recognise the name the face eluded me. I'm sure I saw his name on another sportive recently. Had a nice chat which relaxed my mood as I wasn't very happy that I wasn't officially in and made me setting up my bike a pleasure. So after triple checking that I hadn't forget anything (there's always somethin!) I set off near the back of the pack.
There's a voice at the side of me that's at every event I do that says get to the front....NOW and I duly oblige, to the best of my abilities. I seemed to hit the front in no time using my new grinding away training method and this time my heart was out to play hitting 170 in a couple of minutes. I sat at the back, observing the other riders, making sure there were no numpties and to see how much work each was doing if any. That's when I thought I'd try my luck and lead for a bit. There was an old guy in full Cofidis get up and we exchanged places now and again whilst the others sat in. Eventually I ended up taking huge turns on the front, until about 35miles in when I took a breather for the hills. In our little group we had 3 bio-racer riders, the cofidis guy, some foreign sounding guy who looked an absolute monster on the bike a la Fabian and the obligatory doctor in full sky uniform with matching bike. There were a few more initially but were dwindled down. It was a fantastic group, very safe, everyone knew what to do and when, willing to help each other out.
Bit of a contrast to the West Yorkshire based club I rode with on Sunday.
The hills started to come thick and fast but I kept wondering where the cobbles and steepness of swiss hill were. I found out later due to the rain and the exceptional conditions we were diverted a long way round but with just as much ascent. That's why my Garmin was going mental at me even though we were following the signs. When a hill appeared longer than 20m I turned up the heat and was at a very hard but comfortable pace, really I wasn't expecting to be anyone behind me but a ginormous shadow emerged from the rear just to say he was still there. Still I was leading and we had a little chat. Turns out he's big into triathlons and came 15th in the Liverpool Olympic distance age groupers out of 600 I think and had the 5th fastest bike. Roberto ( told you he sounded foreign) said he used the Sportive as a training ride, I said I hadn't officially entered so would lead him out to glory. Turns out this guy was in Big Brother 5 or 6 ( I love the new series) heh funny. Carrying on, the hills kinda disappeared as quickly as they came with not much trouble although I did drop Rob a couple of times and waited a little while for him to join me. My heart rate was hovering around the 165 ish mark, I was killing myself for this guy, pretending to be his loyal domestique/rouleur and for what? The best training ride I've had for a while. The only problem near the end was traffic and lights slowing us down. I gave him the last mile to the finish then he crossed the line , first of the longer distance riders. We were both covered in road grime and were shocked to see how dirty the bikes were. That's gonna take a few hours I thought to myself :(
The organisers were awaiting our arrival with CNP recovery shakes and other bits and bobs. I was asked for my number then I reminded him that I hadn't entered. He offered me a shake and 'a place at his table' which I initially rejected as I felt awkward taking the freebies. He then said it was ok as there were a few that didn't turn up. I downed the strawberry shake in one. It was gorgeous! Recently I have purchased CNP stuff, gels flapjacks and the hydration drink and all have been beyond my expectations taste wise. The cola gels I could eat as snacks and even my missus loves the marzipan-esque flapjack.
Since I turned up at the Woodford community Centre I was made to feel welcome every step of the way, a credit to the way the Sportive was run and all the staff behind it. My initial reaction was a knee-jerk one, me being the jerk as the website clearly stated no entry on the line. I put the organiser and myself in a difficult position for which I apologise. The food on offer smelt gorgeous, lancs hot pot and pie and peas were the faves which I left for the other riders. Just a coffee for me, unfortunately not ground. There was a free massage being touted too. I had a great day and a worthwhile training session to boot with a big fat KFC being the icing on the cake.
Another great shot from Rick at cyclesportphotos.com