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! 🙂