So… After Day 1 I went home and ate pasta. I had a bath. Applied some MadForm double recovery cream which smells like wintergreen, or Vicks, or mouthwash. It goes on warm and then goes freezing cold and it froze me to the bone for half an hour…even under the Skins which were back on, a fleece, and a blanket. Very bizarre and not very pleasant…but hey, if it works? Talk about suffering for your art! I also washed my kit. Then I ate more pasta. I put the wet kit on the radiator, and prepared all the rest of my kit and food again. And before bed, porridge with banana and sultanas. A bed which I headed to considerably earlier than usual, still wearing my Skins. Rest and recovery right?
Sleeping in Skins is a bit boil in the bag. Get too hot. Get sweaty. Kick off duvet. Get cold. And clammy. Retrieve duvet. And repeat… But hey, as with the cream, if there was any chance of it working, I was willing to put up with it. Every little helps! Even with all that, I slept pretty well, which would not have been the case had I been in a tent on a sports field overnight…
The alarm went off. The Skins came off, and went in the bag for later. The kit went on. And more porridge went in. How was I feeling? Well, just like I normally do before a sportive really. As my knee had been a bit ouchy the day before, I took the precaution of strapping it up. And also of applying the usual Riemann P20 just in case the sun brought my legs out to play for the first time this year. Better safe than sorry right? But all in all…I was feeling…ok! Hm…
GB was still a little early, and was even less perky than usual. Not feeling ok, I think it’s safe to say. The problem with this being his third Tour was a complete lack of novelty value, and he, unlike I, knew what was in store. Ignorance is sometimes a good thing! He put up with my usual morning babbling in his usual stoic fashion, and once again got us to where we had to be when we had to be there. It was just as busy as the day before, but this time I insisted we have coffee. As I’ve said before, Claud the Butler makes the best americano going, and I didn’t want to not have at least one! I made GB have one too, which he did eventually agree was a good idea. Coffee is always a good idea! Gary was riding Day 2 with us. Or more to the point, he was riding the same Day 2 as us. He was parked up behind us as we all got sorted, a little faster today, as the kit was the same, and the dilemma the same…with the solution being the same too! It felt a bit warmer but still – Maratona gilet…
We all lined up at the start, with the same queuing and shuffling as the day before. As everyone barged for position, tried to find their mates, get their teams together, we all got a bit spread out so GB dropped back to find me. This time a timing guy was on a loudhailer at the start line talking to us all and having a laugh as he sent off us in batches, which was more fun. However Gary got away in the batch before us and was never to be seen again. Back to just GB and I then. And off we went. With a certain sense of trepidation…how would the legs feel when actually asked to make wheels go around again? Well, not too bad… The first hour always feels crap, which I kept reminding myself. As we took the long slow climb out of Somerton my legs indicated that they were less than thrilled to be going up in any way, but that’s nothing new. GB was suffering rather more, and fell backwards on the first few such, which wasn’t helping his PMA one iota!
I’ve done Day 2 twice before – in 2007 and 2008. I think it’s safe to say that it, and I, have changed somewhat. I didn’t recognise much of the first section at all. It was another gorgeous day though. Groups hurtled past and we let them. I found myself surreptitiously checking out their numbers to see what variety of rider they were – 3 day long, 3 day medium, 1 day long, 1 day medium – in the hopes that they were lightweights and reassure me that they were entitled to their get up and go…not fellow Day 2 riders going away entirely too fast for my liking!
There were a few little lumps, but it was pretty uneventful until the first food stop on the road by the Cerne Abbas giant. Guess what? Yep, no toilets. The opening on the opposite side of the road was unofficially designated the “ladies”, whilst the men did the usual lining the road and watering the flowers thing. Nice. The food stop was as chaotic as ever – I managed to top up, find a banana, but couldn’t find any jelly babies which was a shame as I really fancied some. Ah well, I’m sure they’re not good for me anyway. I captured the giant for you. He clearly doesn’t need to over compensate with flashy carbon… 😉
As we left, we bumped into (not literally!) a Mendip CC rider and chatted for a while. He was a little bemused as to how I knew so much about them until I pointed out it was a Facebook thing, and I’d commented on the post all about the ride…which probably reassured him that I wasn’t actually some bizarre sort of stalker. This was when the ride became more familiar, and I remembered there was a big climb coming up. Which there was. A nice long steady steep one. It may have a name, something to do with Piddle maybe? Either way, it was quite a tester, and the drummers at the top were a lovely sight – they cropped up throughout the ride and if they were there, you’d reached the top of whichever climb it is you were on – always nice to know! 🙂 They were also, without exception, always friendly and cheerful. I was pretty pleased with how the hill went too. No speed, but the usual crawler gear seemed to be working, and GB seemed to have his legs back too.
Both of the last times I’ve done this ride, it has quite liberally and literally rained on my parade. At which time, cycling past Puddletown seemed painfully ironic. Today was a different story, and believe me, it’s a much nicer ride in the dry! We were heading south, to the seaside, and a climb I was really looking forward to. I’d forgotten about going through Lulworth first… The descent there was lovely, but the climb back out again? Much less so! At least there was a tank to take photos of at the top – that I did remember…when I finally got there that is. I’ve discovered that me taking photos on rides, going along, amuses other riders. They also think I make the climb look easy – well it must be if I have time to take photos, right? That I like. We’ll go with that. Very motivational ;).
So, on to my climb. The Lulworth Ranges climb. Which climbs up and up from the floor, past the mangled rusty tanks that are now targets for their newer shinier replacements, past the numbers those other tanks use to practice targetting, as the world opens up in front of and behind you, and the further you go, the more you see. And it goes on and on and the sun was shining, and sometimes I could see the sea, and yes, it was hard, but not as hard as it used to be, and there was no walking, just grinning at and chatting with the inevitable photographer near the top. I loved it 🙂 Having become separated from GB at the bottom – I had a brief stop for a gel and pills, he was in search of other forms of comfort break, I found him waiting at the top trying not to be bitten by the plentiful horseflies but smiling nonetheless. And the grin on my face was pretty big too :D.
I stayed happy and buzzy for quite some time as we carried on along the coast ridge, waving at all the classic cars passing the other way. Relentlessly cheerful to everyone as ever – to the riders that we passed, to every pedestrian, and now to them. They liked it so much most of them waved back, and one of them even hooted at us in retro fashion – great fun, and also very good for our PMA. I was so pleased to have enjoyed it like I wanted to – it felt like a big box ticked :). I think this may have been my favourite patch of the whole three days, especially as it ended with Corfe Castle, which suddenly looms up at you and is stunning. Clearly a lot of people wanted to visit it on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday as the road coming in, luckily the opposite direction to us leaving, was jammed solid, with car drivers bored enough to wave at or clap at us to relieve the tedium!
Time for a well earned lunch methinks, which was in the ground of a school at the 62 mile point. Lots of room, portable toilets, but still queues for the food. GB chose to queue, and was going to get me a banana but there weren’t any. I topped the bottles up though – I was making a real effort to keep properly hydrated. Having queued for food, we took time for him to eat it, and to catch a break a bit. The seagulls were having a ball hoovering up all the crumbs and leftovers. We were over half way through for the day…which meant we were also over half way through the whole thing. I like to know these things, it gives me something to focus on when the going gets tough.
I found the next section of the ride really boring. Miles of long straight unremarkable through Bovington Camp. OK, maybe I have a low boredom threshold… GB seemed to be flagging a bit after a while, and the long steep climb through and out of Milton Abbas pretty much did him in. Well it must have done – I had to wait for him for a change. Not that I mind – any excuse for a break or to take it easy – you know me!
Milton Abbas was busy being very sociable. Village hall teas. Classic car drivers having their lunch in pub gardens and cheering us on as we went past. All very expensive rural idyll type stuff. And those pub gardens sure looked tempting… Again, the miles started to blur, there were after all, so many of them done and yet to do! It’s that part of the ride that is always hard. I had a flat patch around 70 miles somewhere. There were more climbs. More green, yellow, blue. I tried to distract myself with the scenery, the views, yet more bluebells. And looking out for GB. We’re a team, and being jollied along by me may be irritating but it’s probably better than not being jollied along at all? Maybe… 😉
The final food stop came at 86 miles, which was still 30 miles from the end, but those 30 miles were due, if the elevation graph I’d seen beforehand was anything to go by, to be fairly flat. Luckily the town hall turned out to have toilets, and water, but it was looking a bit sparse on the supplies front. Must learn to go faster, right? 😉
I sat down for a bit, on the stone chip floor, to fill up my bottles and eat. It was hard to walk on with cleats but surprisingly not that uncomfortable to sit on. Which probably means my bum was numb ;). Getting up again, with all that already in my legs, was NOT easy. It’s not like we had much choice though. So up we got. And off we went. I can do flat. So I did. I sat on the front, and we pushed our way all the way back, with the odd inevitable break for gels, drinks, contact lens bits, etc. It was just a question of eating up the miles. Not being familiar with the roads made it hard to judge where we were in relation to where we were going…and it was a relief when I started to recognise things from when I last did it, although not necessarily from the same direction as back then!
About two miles from the end, with GB almost restored to himself, my get up and go went AWOL – as the pain cut in and the last gel wore off. Still we were nearly there, I knew where I was, and I just pottered in from there as GB drew away. Once more we rolled back over the start line. Or the finish line. GB and I had negotiated…and agreed that there would be no hanging around afterwards today, in return for a bit on Day 3, so it was back to the car, back on with the Skins and off home again asap. Day 2 done! 116 miles takes a very long time doesn’t it? But actually, I felt ok. A bit tired and achey, but then I’m always that way after a sportive. It didn’t feel like it felt noticeably worse because it was the second such in a row. Which was interesting. And weird. I’ve never done two sportives back to back – so I was kinda chuffed about that, whatever came next. Two thirds done…only one more day to go!
Cycling time: 7:38 hrs.
Distance: 116.2 miles.
Avs: 15.2 mph.
Climbing: 1911 m
ODO: 2080.62 miles.