Just for a change, today’s sportive was on a Monday. Easter Monday to be precise. The Easterness of this was not evident on the early morning drive there as the roads were quiet, but man, on the way home, the hordes were heading North en masse…and the (thankfully opposite) M5 and the A38 were packed! That’ll be the end of the Easter holidays for you then…
But that’s not really relevant is it? Not to the Cotswold Spring Classic, which was today’s excuse for cycling in circles in the sun. I was back to having company today – as GB was doing it too. He’s really not a morning person, as I was reminded when he picked me up at 6.00am this morning. He may not actually be a grumpy old man – allegedly – but he does a very good impression from time to time 😉 Which makes being perky early in the day very amusing if you’re me. Which I am, so there :P.
Even given my irritating behaviour, GB stayed in my general vicinity for most of the ride, waiting for me from time to time and so forth. What can I tell you about the ride? Well, I’ve done a few rides around the Cotswold area before, so I thought I knew what to expect. Which in some respects I did – lots of pretty scenery, carpets of bluebells, wild garlic, fields of white dandelion clocks, field upon field of bright yellow oil seed rape, cutesy expensive villages, flash cars…you get the general picture. All the above in glorious, and really quite hot, sunshine, with an occasionally annoying but mostly refreshing NNE wind. However, after a fast and relatively flat first 30 miles or so, it was a lot hillier than I was expecting. To clarify – I was expecting hills (check), long slow slogs like those I’ve done ’round there before(check)…but man, some of the hills were steep too! That would be adding insult to injury…
It’s been a long time since I walked on a sportive but I did today. To be fair, I was forced into it a couple of times by having to stop for traffic and not being able to get back on. Oh, and getting my back wheel spinning in gravel and losing traction altogether on one occasion. That time I was just grateful not to have fallen off :/ I made it up several hills that many didn’t though. And some of them I got on top of and quite enjoyed. The killer very steep hill towards the end did for me though. But I’m not proud. And if I’m cycling slower than I can walk then… Besides, it stretches the legs. Silver lining and all that. I wish I could go up hills like GB, I really do. But I can’t. Tant pis.
It doesn’t help when you hit a big hill and see a large proportion of those ahead of you already walking – it totally de-motivates me, and emphasises how hard it must be. I don’t like to go past people only to have to stop 10 metres further on either, it’s embarrassing, and is what I worry will happen. I think left to my own devices and audience free, I might have done better. Or I might not. It doesn’t really matter 🙂 Besides, what goes up, however it goes up, does get to go down, and there were some glorious descents *flies in teeth*.
I did eat and drink enough, even if I did lose track of things from time to time. For the first time ever, and fairly early on, first my left and then my right calf threatened cramp, so I drank more, stretched where I could, and managed to stave it off somehow. As ever, and for all the usual reasons, I had to resort to painkillers at the 4 1/2 hour mark, but they efficiently did their job and got me through. GB had less luck with his fuelling strategy and was suffering a bit towards the end, so I got to return the charity shown in his waiting for me from time to time by leading home the conquering heroes (yes, that’s us), and we crossed the finish line together – united front and all that 🙂
On a review front: Sign on was easy and quick. Timing chips were attached to the numbers. HQ had all the facilities required, from plenty of parking to toilets and changing etc. The feedstops were good, with toilets (‘rah!), and were well provisioned and friendly, as were the staff throughout. Friendly that is. The signage was fairly good – with only one instance about 10 miles in where some toerag had moved a sign, but someone’s GPS pointed that out and we were on our way the right way without too much of a blip. The route was scenic, mostly on back roads, and the road surfaces were as good as can be expected for such. So pretty well organised all round – just bl**dy hard work! 🙂
Cycling time: 7:07:04 (not inc stops)
Distance: 107.54 miles
Avs: 15.0 mph
ODO: 8114 miles
As predicted, GB thinks we were pootling, whereas I think you’ll find that that’s just the normal pace at which I do sportives! 😉
The final touch of Easterness? The Easter Egg in the goody bag – which I reckon should come as standard at all sportives *grin*. I have to have earned a chunky Kit Kat, right? Methinks it may mysteriously vanish a little later on this evening…
UPDATE. My official time is 7:33:27 – and I think they’ve tweaked the standards a little for the detour – because I had thought I was Bronze (over 7:30) and they’ve given me (and GB) a Silver. ‘Rah! 254 people did the Long Route and I was 197th. There were 21 women and I was 18th. Ok, ok, enough with the figures already – I already know I’m not fast. I do a lot of training and a lot of work so I guess it’s just not in me. But I am Silver 🙂