Dartmoor Classic

Today was, if nothing else, a lesson in how a sportive should be organised.  Since we have established a baseline disastrous standard against which to compare all other events, (yes, still moaning about the Dragon), we know what we’re talking about!  This was the opposite end of the scale – everything was superlative.

Since kick-off was from 7:00am onwards, we, being GB and I as ever, stayed over at a b&b in Torquay last night, which meant we could sign in yesterday too, and do all the start villagey stuff.  We thus established that there was plenty of parking, loads of toilets – both in the car parks and at the start village – and a timing chip to fix to your helmet that was scanned there and then to check it was working.  (Mr Lusardi take note…).

We rocked up at 6:30am ish this morning, were marshalled to park in one of the outer carparks, rode in, used the facilities, and were near the front of the (minimal) queue.  They penned the riders up into groups which were set off at intervals, and we were underway by 7:10am.  See, it is possible…

It was initially so foggy that sunglasses were a waste of space as they got covered in water, and I was grateful of my arms.  At some point, after a hill (there were a lot of hills) we popped out above the cloud cover into the sunshine, so I adjusted my glasses, bashed my left eye wrong…and my contact lens fell out!  I stopped asap, no doubt giving the riders around me a moment, and was massively relieved to discover it was sitting on my cheek where I think the sunglasses had trapped it.  *Phew*!  Well when you’re as short sighted as I am, riding without a lens is not an option.  And let’s face it, binocular vision is quite important when you’re riding a bike…  To be fair it’s quite important a lot of the time!

GB was off ahead of me, which is pretty much where he stayed all day.  The only difference being that after a while he stopped waiting for me!  He says that G is for Git… ;).  We do not climb hills at the same speed, and he descends faster than me.  Given that today’s route was all about going up, or going down so that you could go up again, this was never going to be a ride where G being for Group worked.

The first 4 hours were hard work.  This is not to say that the 2nd 4 hours were easy.  Bear with me, all will be explained.  There were LOTS of big long hills.  According to the website, 3407 m of climbing in all.    And the sun was out, the fog burnt off, and the temperatures were rising.  The wind was a blessing and curse in that it got in the way, but it cooled you down so…rock and a hard place.  The BBC forecast had said white cloud, 19C and 7mph wind.  Really, beats me why they bother.  Sunshine, 28+C, and a bit windier than that – all day!  I know, I have the tan lines to prove it.  I had left my Torq refill in the car and it’s just as well as it meant I just diluted that which I had, and I think today it was more important to get water in than energy drink.  Funny how these things work out isn’t it? :).

I was suffering for various reasons which I am indeed going to bore you with.  I started off the day dehydrated, which tends to give me cystitis like symptoms – not comfortable on a bike.  My painkillers are a necessary evil – they keep the knee in check, and the shoulder (although less s0) yet they upset a tummy that is already not that happy with energy bars and drinks.  So I tend to have tummy ache too.  Plus GB had spent so long telling me I’d be fine doing this ride that my constant inability to keep up with him yet seeing him in the distance was getting me down…  That’ll teach me to fall for the hype! G was for a little bit Glum and Grumpy :(.

At the 4 hour mark it was time to take more pills, so I stopped after yet another hill, under a shady tree, dosed myself up, ate and drank, and had a word with myself *grin*.  After that it got a little easier.  Well, there’s caffeine in some of the pills, the painkilling element stopped the twingeing knee, I was drinking more than enough, which helped with that, and since 8 hours was my goal time, I knew I was over half way done – which is quite motivating.

So I perked up a bit.  So much so that I even overtook GB at one point and made it up the very very long climb back up to the foodstop at Princeton (just as well stocked and friendly 2nd time around) and had to wait for him! :P.  Ok, that was it really as far as competition goes.  After that he drew away…not to be seen again until after I’d crossed the finish line, looking slightly sheepish and rather apologetic.  Maybe I shouldn’t have beaten him up the hill… ;).

It was a stunning route – way nicer than the Dragon was even in years gone past.  Amazing views, Dartmoor, ponies and very cute foals, Highland cattle and calves, suicidal sheep.  In fact a great deal of free ranging not quite wildlife!  We even had to slow down and let a black cat nonchalantly cross the road…which I believe is good luck.  Well, running it over would certainly have been bad luck, for the cat if no-one else…

After the final killer hill at Moretonhampton and some lovely descending, it was more rolling terrain, and then the last 10 miles were mostly flat.  I do love a “10 miles to go” sign.  And I got a “5 miles to go” one too – bonus!  I found a wheel to suck for the last couple of miles, since by this time I was feeling lazy and I knew I was going to make it in in under 8 hours.   Indeed, as I rolled across the finish line, I made it 7:49.  I joined the queue for the formalities, where they scanned the tag and told me my official time was 8:14 and easily qualified me for a Bronze!  ‘Rah!  Go me!  Turns out the goodie bag is cool too – bottle, medal, trophy, inner tube, recovery, nice t-shirt…  Yet again, proof of how it should be done 🙂

Cycling time: 7:49:00 hrs
Distance: 106.14 miles
Avs: 13.5 mph
ODO: 9213 miles

GB was pretty euphoric about what a good ride he’d had.  He got in 10 minutes before I did, but, probably because he’d hung back for me early on, he missed out on Silver.  I didn’t, to be honest, have the same kind of post-event buzz that I usually get.  I guess it was a bit lonely, and unlike recent events I didn’t get to join any groups, or team up much with anyone – it’s not a course that lends itself to that kind of thing.  My shoulder thing was also agony by the end, and I was kinda tired, so it was just good to not be riding any more!  I think I’d describe myself now as just quietly content to have achieved what I set out to do.  I’m also very very pleased with myself for getting up all the hills, from the longest to the steepest (although steep wasn’t really the issue today).  I didn’t walk, or even stop for a breather, I just dug in and plodded up.  Did I mention I’m stubborn? 😉

Dartmoor Classic – done! 🙂


26 thoughts on “Dartmoor Classic

  1. Robin

    Well done, agreed, it was a good event apart from the massive number of short sharp climbs. I was away with the first group at 7:00. Things were ok until I had a bad (lonely)patch past Tavistock when it seemed that everybody was a lot faster than me, got me a bit demotivated , which made the climb back to Princeton even harder. Finish time 7:41 peddling time 7:05. Thats a lot of party time somewhere.

  2. admin

    Darn, I forgot you were doing this one, we could have met in person! 🙂 Another time for sure…

  3. The slower Hoggy's hero

    Location excellent, Organisation excellent Spinach and Feta even better . Marshalls superb, Heat unbearable fun! 7hrs 50 without walking

    Well Done

  4. Robin Jones

    Yet again another superb Dartmoor Classic, this is the third year I’ve done this event and everytime it’s been superbly organised in every respect.

    MDCC certainly know how to run an event, this is a true example of excellence and how things should be run.

    Again we were graced with a hot summer’s day which certainly displayed Dartmoor in all it’s glory, there’s was so much stunning scenery ranging from the high Tors to the deep river valleys, so many quaint little villages and lets not forget the Dartmoor ponies and foals which are a delight to see.

    Both distances are tough, and again I did the 106 miler and rode the lot and not many people would argue that this is not tough especially when the sun is beating down on you like it was. However the reward is it’s so satisfying to enter the finish arena knowing that you’ve made it and I take my hat off to everyone that completed either distance. What a reception at the finish, brilliant and bordering on emotional.

    Well I’ll sign off here by saying many thanks to the organisers, marshals, helpers etc as without this there would’nt be an event.

    See you next year,

    Robin Jones ( Climb-On-Bikes CC).

  5. stuart brown

    This must rate as the best uk sportive that ive ever done and i have done plenty…Every aspect seemed to work so well,marshalls,foodstops,route,goody bag etc. Many events leave you with the feeling that you have been ripped off,the dragon ride to name but one….The Dartmoor Classic organisers should feel very proud of the job they do…..Will be back next year with a few more club members.
    Cheers Stu Brown (icycle.cc)

  6. Tom McPhail

    Absoultely top notch event, really superb. Great organisation, outstanding marshalling, monster route, well-stcked feed stations, genrous goody bag. If only all UK sportives were so well run.

  7. Justin Johnston-Thomas

    Well it’s been twenty years since I rode my old stomping ground (used to cycle for MDCC) and I never remembered the hills being so, many, steep, high, long…….ah well I wont forget now and will definitely be training harder than ever for next years and there I was aiming for a gold ha ha!!!
    A bronze will do for this year but not next.
    I had a fabulous weekend and just must say the biggest THANK YOU to MDCC and all the Marshall’s and anyone involved in the organisation of the event. It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to be back next year (even if I did vow I’d never do it again up a certain hill).
    Can’t wait to see the photos!!!
    Cheers Justin Johnston-Thomas

  8. John Ambrose(YOGi)

    Thankyou to all involved at MDCC for the hard work and excellent organisation that you obviously do, to make this such a superb event. This is the standard at which all other sportives should aspire to achieve. You get a Gold medal from me! Well done.

  9. Steve Cruwys

    This was a fantastic event, from the moment I entered the village on the Sat I realised just how well organised this event was. The start, the feed stations, the random crowds of well wishers dotted around the course provided much a needed moral boost- everything was top class a very well done to all involved. Even the wedge of flap jack tasted great. As for those hills, blimey they were massive so much so I found myself chuckling on the way up them ( must have been the sun!!)

    I will be back next year but not sure if I will do the 100 miler again, I might whimp out & go for the 60?!

  10. Laura Lawson

    Thanks to all at MDCC for a fantastic event. I too have the tan marks to prove my attendance! Chuffed to bits with my bronze over the 100km route, as this was my first Dartmoor Classic, and I’ll be back next year to get my silver! One of the best things was the ever present marshalls – who needs signs when you have smiley people, shouting encouragement, with big red flags – I never felt like I was trying to find my way. Apart from a couple of real steep efforts I enjoyed the hills, what goes up must come down and all that! The village was great and I’d especially like to thank the massage guys. Had it not been for them I’m sure walking would have proved more difficult on Monday…… Great day!

  11. Richard Hill

    This was my first event, and the first time I have ridden anywhere near the 65 miles that I completed.

    My rookieness was clear for all to see, being on my hybrid bike, and wearing a hydration back pack stuffed with various “what if” solutions. Can you beleive I even thought about having my ipad in it in case I got lost 🙂

    The organisation was superb, a big thanks to everyone who had a hand in it.

    I’ve learnt a lot, and will be back, hopefully to improve on my 881st place!

  12. mark ford

    I live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and this is my third consecutive Dartmoor Classic. I would have done the previous two if I’d known sooner. I don’t need to say anymore.

  13. Jay Waller

    Thank you to all who organised and ran the Classic, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was certainly different to the previous classic I did (the first one in 2007!). For me there was only one disappointing aspect, that was theconstant stream of gel wrappers which littered the road. There really is no need for it. Otherwise thanks again.

  14. Richard Fox

    Well run esp marshalling! Although this is my local stomping ground the going was very tough (103 miles) esp as I recorded 34 degrees in the sun around 2pm!!! hot hot hot. Thanks for the T-shirt 🙂 I Will prob do the 100Km next year and chill out a bit and not cycle to the event (made 120 miles in total). Well Done 🙂

  15. Dan McCandlish

    This was mine and my bro-in-law’s first go at mass cycling so others won’t be surprised to learn that we want to do another one. Yes, the organisation was excellent. The venue was well thought out – our families had plenty to entertain them whilst they waited for us to register and then recover afterwards.
    A big thank you to all the marshalls around the course, and in the car park, who were active participants giving the necessary messages as we approached. I imagine their days were similarly tiring and I expect some of them would have loved to have been riding the course themselves.
    One piece of constructive criticism, albeit a very minor one: The bins were overflowing. If there were more, or perhaps routine emptying, the site would have been a little tidier.

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  17. Alistair Myers

    I thought the whole event was brilliant. I did the cornwall tor with Kilo to go and you preregistered turned up rode through the start timer and off you were on your way, quite lonely as there was no big group starts, where as i felt part of something big at the start paddocks on sunday 🙂

    The course was excellent requiring careful pacing when riding, i loved the hills although i’m glad i tried the course out first, as i had to walk up the hill coming out of holn back on to the moor when i practiced, but on the day didnt have to get off once 🙂

    The post event celebations were great as well, the village was great with lots to fill that whole in my stomach afterwards and plenty of nice shiny specialized bike to get my wife repeating the word no to me. It was great to have medals and a trophy to take away as a reminder of the day my body nearly failed 😛

    Thanks MDCC

  18. Charlotte Somerville

    As a seasoned supporter of the Dartmoor Classic, as well as many other sportives, I would like to say how much I, as a non-cyclist, enjoyed the event. My sister and I have brought my partner to cycle the race for the past three years, and very much enjoy the event village. On Sunday we waved him off, ate a bowl of porridge then nipped over to Princetown for a bacon buttie and coffee, waved at him once more then walked on Dartmoor for a couple of hours. We met up at the second feed stop, then back to the village for tea and the finish! A very enjoyable day indeed (would only be improved by a shuttle bus for the supporters from the start to Princetown and back again!!)

  19. david stone

    another cracking ride on sunday you guys must have a hot line to the weather gods will be back next year for a silver medal ! and will remember the sun cream! thanks to everyone involved particulary the marshalls who were stood in the hot sun all day still smiling away

  20. stuart brown

    One post earlier mentioned litter,gel wrappers being the main offender,not nearly as many as on the dragon ride,which was the worst ive ever seen…The question is how do you stop these mindless morons from doing it,i recall one of the climbs and remembering that we are in a national park and being so close to the sheep and the dartmoor ponies and then you spot a trail of litter all the way to the top of the climb,it makes my blood boil!!!
    I think that even if rubbish, empty out nets were placed strategically around the course then the morons would still discard there rubbish with little regard for our countryside…

  21. Martha Beacham

    Fantastic event! My first proper sportive, having enviously watched my hubby ride the Dartmoor Classic for the last two years. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, many, many thanks MDCC for such a well-organised event. Looking forward to next years event already. The Axe Valley kids are hooked, too!

  22. Geoff Farrell

    This is the report I’ve made to my club – Southdown Velo in Chichester. As you see – I’m full of praise for the event and the organisers. I didn’t put in that I think that a worthwhile note from the organisers to the riders would be ‘DO NOT LITTER’. Here’s the report.

    First off, let me say that this was – without doubt – from the modest 14 I’ve done, the best sportive I’ve experienced. Why? Because the organisation was exemplary, the route over Dartmoor was interesting, the road surface was good by 2011 standards, and the weather turned out to be ideal.

    The organisation was faultless. Bearing in mind there were 2500 riders on two courses, I had to wait only 15 minutes to start – perfect to focus on the ride, meet people, stay warm. The route was tougher in the first 60% with the reward for climbing to the tops of the climbs being staggering views across Dartmoor. Each significant climb had boards indicating how long it was, plus the maximum and average gradient. Out on the course, there were hundreds of marshals – many with huge red flags of the kind that could stop a train. They held off traffic at key junctions. The signage was excellent. The depart village was on a huge playing field in Kingsteinton – it had a band, trade stands, mechanics, enough toilets, good food and incredibly, enough bike racking for all 2500 bikes. The feed station out on the Moor was well stocked with enough bike racking, toilets, food and drink.

    My personal experience began 10 minutes after registering on Saturday afternoon. Riding back to my accommodation, the left hand up-shift lever snapped leaving me stuck with the small ring. Despite great support from the event bike shop, it just couldn’t be fixed in the available time so I was stuck with it for the event. Not a big problem I thought because most of the work is uphill. However, not only is Dartmoor surprisingly flat(ish) once you’re up there, the last quarter of the course is more or less downhill with some fabulous sweeping bends on smooth roads.

    Weather wise, the day began with heavy mist – even at the start. Gambling on it burning off by 9.30, I was one of the few in ‘summer’ gear and as it turned out, that’s what happened. As I went up on the moor, the blue sky appeared leaving only the tor tops shrouded in cloud. Just a fabulous day – because the day started cold, it didn’t get too hot later on.

    As always, temporary mutually beneficial friendships were made along the way. For the last 15 miles, I hooked up with a girl who seemed strong but was struggling. Ladies gold being 15 minutes more generous, we worked out that because she had left 15 minutes before me, both of us could get gold if we put some effort in. We worked well together and we both made it by a margin. I was happy enough with my time of 4 hours 21 minutes being placed 182 out of 1197 on the short course; although I’d have jumped 30 places if I hadn’t spent 3 minutes retrieving my rear light from the bottom of cattle grid! I am honour bound to report the fastest time over the short course was 3 hours 25 minutes.

    I will definitely do it next year – but on the longer course.

  23. John Booth

    I was gutted I could not ride this one

    I crashed on a downhill 1 week prior and suffered a broken femur and collar bone

    Im like a bear with a sore head but I will be back

    John Booth
    West Yorkshire

  24. admin

    Hope you’re a fast healer and are back on the bike soon!

    And to everyone else who commented – thank you – I’m glad you all had as good a ride as I did 🙂

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