Last year this free* sportive marked the longest ride I’d ever done. I seem to remember vaguely enjoying it until about 50 miles, and then the remainder being hard-work. Strangely it was set to be a very similar story this year, due to the lack of winter training I’d done.
There were two versions of the route running this time round, a 40 mile route and the 80 mile ‘epic’ that I’d done in 2012. With all good intentions of training I’d entered the 80 mile version. So at 5.15am Saturday morning I was going directly against the title of this sportive and dreaming up all kind of excuses as to why I’d need to drop down to the 40 mile version.
I needn’t have worried though. The rain hadn’t stopped since Thursday and on arriving the 80 mile version had been scrapped, presumably due to high winds and standing water. I nearly jumped for joy. The 3 cyclists that I’d travelled with weren’t quite so happy though.
Anyway, the first 20 miles were terrible – pretty much into headwinds and not that enjoyable. Just as things couldn’t get much worse, the constant rain changed to hail temporarily. Just after this though, the course backtracked on itself and the wind was behind for most of the return leg. Much more enjoyable and for a stretch of 5 miles I was actually really enjoying cycling – nearly by-passing the coffee stop on the course (as I did last year).
At 5.15, looking out the window at overcast and non-stop rain I was never doing this event again (and possibly wasn’t doing any cycling ever again). By the time we’d finished at lunchtime the endorphins were flowing and I was looking for anything else to enter. I’ll be back again next year – hopefully doing the 80 mile version having put in some training!
* free – well, they charge you £28 to enter, and then refund it when you complete the course. An excellent idea. There is no way I would have turned up Saturday morning without the incentive of getting the best part of £30 back!