The nice thing, in so far as there was one, to getting up at 5:00am this morning was that, unlike the last time I did this, it was daylight. Which makes the whole process of loading up the car and heading off up the motorway that much more pleasant.
Unsurprisingly the motorways were virtually empty, as was the service station on the M5 where I stopped to eat my muesli and use the facilities. I arrived at Stratford upon Avon racecourse on schedule, signed in, sorted me and my bike out, and managed to meet the BW, all with the minimum of fuss. His parents handed him over to my tender care (yeah, right…) and we were underway at around 8:00am. Good start.
The main thing to be said about today’s ride is that it was horrendously windy. The rest of the weather varied from cloudy to sunny, wet to dry, but the wind never stopped. Lots of gusty, loud, increasing, annoying, wind!
Due to the fact that there were 3 equidistant foodstops, the ride broke up nicely into four quarters. The first 25 miles were pretty flat and I don’t recall a hill before the hour mark. A good way to warm up. BW stuck with me for the most part, though he had a tendency to be slightly ahead, and more than slightly ahead going up the hills. Nothing new there then. There were various groups for a while which was quite nice – got to hide from the wind somehow. There was also a really annoying mile or so section where the road had recently been top-dressed. Gravel everywhere, and no fun at all. At least I didn’t get a puncture – several people did. Which takes us to the first food stop where the BW precariously leant his bike against something…and the wind blew it over. Result? Slightly knackered derailleur which left him without his very bottom gear, made changing gear tricky, and meant that his chain fell off on a regular basis. Not great…
The second quarter included the big climb of the day – Stanway Hill – the route split, and a couple of other similar lumps. Nothing that I found too troubling. In fact I made a point of going up Stanway a gear above bottom just to see if I could. I could. Right until the last corner where I hit the wall of wind again. I even overtook folk. So that was fun, kinda. About 40 miles in I noticed BW developing a tendency to be behind me rather than in front, other than up hill, which was novel. The route split, leaving the 100 milers in the minority again, and we didn’t really see much by way of other cyclists until the lunchtime foodstop.
So, half way done. The third quarter was rolling, and, yes, still windy. My knee started to go not long after the stop and rather than let it get worse, I took the pills asap, and luckily this time around they worked. I could tell the BW was suffering by now, whether he’d admit it or not, even though I’d made sure he ate and drank at regular intervals. He sat behind me and I tried not to leave him behind, though I was feeling really good, and fair flying from time to time. At the final food stop we took a slightly longer break, and crammed food down him, but we still had 25 miles to do. Which, since I’d gotten my average up to 16mph, could have been a mere hour and a half…
However those miles were where the worst of the wind was. Which was unfair considering we’d thought it was pretty horrendous as it was! But this was worse. I mean just silly worse. A constant fight. Tree debris all over the roads. I wanted to just push and get back as quickly as possible, but I decided that this ride was going to be a Lilo and Stitch thing – nobody gets left behind. I did my very best to distract a hangdog BW, to be in front of him, to drop back and pick him up when necessary, and to make him hit the gels/jellybeans. It felt like a very long 25 miles… Just before the end he perked up a bit, and inevitably made sure to cross the line before me…*rolls eyes*. He was welcomed back into the bosom of his family, leaving me feeling a tad lonesome with no-one to play post-match analysis with.
However I’m a big girl. I coped. I consoled myself with a double espresso – there’s a new trend, having very good coffee makers at sportives, and long may it continue. I sat in the back of my car, put hubby on speaker phone to keep me company while I got changed, and there you go, another sportive done.
Cycling time: 6:36:37 hrs
Distance: 102.85 miles
Avs: 15.5 mph
It really wasn’t very hilly, only 1009 metres of climbing. But, as a fellow rider put it, the wind took what should have been a straightforward fast ride and turned it into a total slog. If G didn’t stand for Group I’d probably have been 20 minutes or so faster, but hey, that’s not really what it’s about is it? It was the BW’s first 100 mile sportive and all things considered he did really well :).
The route was pretty and scenic, if we’d been paying attention which we weren’t really, being too busy concentrating on surviving the wind. The roads were nice and quiet too, and mostly in pretty good nick. Special mentions go to the expensive property, the Bentleys (yes, that’s plural), a hill with a windmill, and a massive fluffy road crossing caterpillar. The food stops were great – village halls with toilets, and both well stocked and friendly. Especially the little’un at the first stop happily announcing the availability of jelly babies if anyone wanted them :D. The whole event seemed efficiently run, and I have yet another medal and goody bag bottle to add to the collection. The chocolate covered cupcake was a bonus *grin*.
Right, I think that covers it. Wheel Heroes 100 miler – done! 🙂
UPDATE: official time is 7:06:59. Results don’t yet allow me to figure out where that puts me with the other 100 milers. Probably just as well…