OK, event review coming up – it’ll be a long one, so hang in there! :
Event two of the season saw me up and out of bed at 5am yesterday. G & S collected me a bit before 6am and we headed off towards Wales. The weather looked initially ominous but we passed through the rain on the motorway and could see the sun shining on the hills across the River Severn which was cheering. It took less than an hour and a half to get to Monmouth, during which we chatted, and I ate my breakfast. When we got there, the event was well sign-posted and there was plenty of free parking right there too.
Signing on was a breeze, with the added unexpected bonus of a free water bottle with gel and bar…very nice. A queue for the portable loos, and then there was the usual period of putting bikes together, sorting kit, deciding to second guess the weather and choose which layers to wear, and also being slightly silly (nerves you know). It was sunny, but chilly, which to be fair, is pretty much how it stayed all day. Back to the portable loos. Queue again. Pick up the bikes. Queue at the start…get your ticket stamped and…
…we set off at about 8:15am. About 2 minutes later G and S headed off into the hills, never to be seen again, which, before it sounds like I’m complaining, is just the way I like it – I can’t keep up with them and trying to just depresses me!
So, what to say about the ride? There were 14 hills, counted down on the route so you knew how many you had left to do. Which makes you wonder what the definition of a hill is. A couple of them I barely noticed. Then there were several times I was definitely and distinctly going up…but those weren’t “hills” at all! 14 hills in 85 miles probably doesn’t sound like a lot. Believe me it is. Long slow drags for miles. 3 miles in one case I believe. Which actually, if I’m going to have to go up hill, is the kind of hill I prefer.
Due to the hilly nature of the course – you were either going up, or down. Very little flat. On the ups you got too hot, on the downs it was pretty chilly. Luckily I’d judged my layering right – sleeveless jersey, long sleeve jersey, and gilet. The long sleeve came off at the first food stop at about 30 miles and that left me set for the rest of the day – with the zips going up and down as required. The food stops were frankly useless – just bits of orange and banana – 1st time around the flapjacks had run out when I got there, and 2nd time around fruit cake held no interest for me. I did take some water at the first, drinks only, stop, used my little Torq single measure cannister, and made up a bottle. Having suffered from this before I’d packed my own ham roll for lunch which I duly ate at the 48 mile stop – it adds structure to the day, and made a change from the Torq bars – I’m a lady who lunches you know *grin*. I pottered ’round the entire thing on my own, at my own pace, with my mp3 as ever. The odd “hellos” were exchanged, and I met the “famous one” too 😉 I had a bit of a flat patch around 5 hours or so in, but that didn’t last too long.
The biggest, and also the last, hill of the day was Symonds Yat. Having read about it beforehand, I think I’d been dreading it the entire way ’round. I couldn’t decide whether to take a gel beforehand or not, and opted not to, as I’d been consistent with my eating and drinking all the way ’round. And I made it to the top! I had to talk to myself. And zig zag. And stand up. And sit down again. And stand up. And other various mental tricks…but I made it! With a little whoop at the top which luckily there was no-one around to hear *grin*. I was on a real high after that, and the last stretch home was a blast, my legs could sense “home”…not to mention the fac that the last 4 miles or so were properly downhill – the best way to end any event! I got in after around 6 and a half hours of trip time at 3:15pm ish, and met up with G & S who had of course been in for a good 90 minutes…but that’s why they’re gold folk, and I’m not. We sat in the sun and drank coffee and, in my case, Torq recovery. I’m trying to be good about my nutrition you see 🙂
Stats for you:
Cycling time: 6:30:26
Distance: 85.335 miles
Avs: 13.1 mph
ODO: 9715.6 miles
Food consumed : 2 Torq bars, 2 *750ml Torq Energy, 1 wholemeal Ham roll, and some Torq Recovery afterwards.
I don’t know my official time, which is irritating. There was a backlog – probably since they insisted on writing out a certificate for everyone – which is all very well, but I just wanted to know how I’d done. Clearly my average speed was abysmal, but that’s hardly surprising with all those “hills” 🙂
Conclusion? Well, it was a really good event in some respects. Lovely route – gorgeous scenery, bluebells everywhere and so on. The locals seemed friendly – there were various families and residents clapping as I cycled by, which gave me a little lift every time. There were enough riders – around 800 I think – so there was always someone ahead or behind, so I never felt panicked that I was lost or had missed a sign. It was also quite a tough route I think, but clearly achievable, cos I made it 🙂 I’d even go so far as to say I enjoyed it…
Organisationally speaking, not so good. Useless foodstops. I never got my free coffee and flapjack – the queue was huge, and apparently it was only tea that side anyway. I never got my time. And I never got any sense of the people running it either – it was all a bit functional as opposed to friendly.
We came home via a lovely pint of Perroni in Tintern, and food at the New Inn in Cross. I was feeling pretty good afterwards, but when I got tired at the end of the evening, it was a bit like being hit with a sledgehammer. I got out of the bath, went to bed…and was asleep instantly. Today I feel pretty good. My legs are fine – a little achey walking up Ebbor Gorge – but nothing to complain about. So – result!
OFFICIAL TIME: 6:50
Which puts me around 508th in a field of 651…no surprise there then! The results have some very very fast times, I wonder if there was a shorter route? Can it really be done in 3:38?! Not by me! *grin*
Here I am, before and after, in my shiny new bespoke team of one kit 🙂 (thanks for playing photographer S!)