Waking up in the middle of the new forest to the rain on Saturday morning was not what I wanted to see. The sky was grey and I couldn’t see any blue sky. We unenthusiastically pulled on our winter cycle gear and headed to breakfast, I had fruit, yogurt, cereals and of course peanut butter to prepare for the 70 miles that lay ahead. The owner of the B and B and another cyclist staying seemed sure the rain would stop at 9am, I wasn’t so sure, my phone told me 12! I was seriously considering ringing Wiggle to change our entry to the Sunday.
Once arriving at the site we registered. This was very well organised with no queuing at all. I did forget the one thing I needed (my helmet) so galloped back to the car in the rain to grab it. The start was done in waves which moved very quickly, after a clear race briefing we were off... 5 minutes after our departure the sun came out and yes at 9am!
The ride was very pretty through the New forest and Moorlands, until the first feed station it was fairly flat. After 30 miles I started to feel my energy drain, but was certain when looking at the map there should be a feed station soon. After a tough bit against the wind at 32 miles a marshall shouted "just 8 miles to the feed stop." Misreading my map the station was at 40 miles not 30. Glad I had my peanut butter! I had lost Dad for quite a while now but decided to wait for him at the station. Making a friend called Colin from Basingstoke we chatted and maintained a good pace. I was surprised to be at 40miles in just 2hrs 10, I don’t think I’ve ever being that fast?
The first feed station was amazing! Proper toilets, bananas, flap jacks, chocolate and the old school fig rolls. I filled up (maybe too much) and waited for Dad. The next leg was a little more hilly with a few humps, I was surprised to see some walking up these. I quite like hills, it was the 20mph winds in the open I struggled with. I tried to cling on to a few back wheels but even powering at a full effort it was depressing to see my speedometer say 8mph! This went on for about 8 miles. I then saw a sign to give me some motivation stating “Still away to go, but your nearer than before” great!
The rest of the ride was well signposted and enjoyable, lots of donkeys and ponies to see and a few locals supporting the riders. At the last 3 miles I passed a rider on a Spotter in jeans going at an impressive pace. I also followed a man without a seat; whether he lost this on route or started without one who knows! At the end I was happy with my time of 4:27 moving and was met with a medal and protein bar. I waited for Dad to finish and then trotted off on a 20 minute brick run. I wasn’t the only one doing this, must of being a lot of triathletes training. I would say I felt the jelly legs for the first 2k. Once returning I felt full knackered! After refuelling we then went to watch the Grand National no wins for me L
Overall the Sportive was a great event, a beautiful route, good signposts and for the amount of participants very well organised.
7:30am on Sunday morning (no lay ins for me!) I set out on a 12k run but my legs felt very heavy and my splits were slow. We then planned a relaxing off-road ride through the forest. My oversized tractor of a mountain bike made this pretty tough and an easy 18 miler turned into 27 miles. By Monday I well and truly needed a rest day!