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My first sportive (write up)

e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
edited April 2013 in Road beginners
I lost my sportive virginity last week when I completed the Surrey Hills Cyclone. You get the entire spectrum of opinions on sportives on this forum. Some people love them. Some people hate them and think they are a waste of money. Each to their own.

Anyway, below is my write up of the event...

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Sun streams into the car. Frost glistens in the fields. A beautiful morning. Perfect for my first sportive.

Park the car and start getting ready. Cyclists everywhere. Smiles all round. Anticipation in the air. More fuel needed. Half a banana and an energy drink.

Down to the registration desk to meet the others. Can't see them anywhere. Everyone looks the same. A thousand people clad head to toe in lycra and topped with a helmet. Weird. Not that I look any different.

Finally find them. We chat while I force down an energy bar. Definitely enough food for now. Isn't that Chris Boardman over there?

We approach the start. High on nerves and excitement. I confess to never having quite covered the course distance before. Get slightly worried looks. I calm their fears. No problem.

A minute to the start. One of the others owns up to never having ridden even half this far before. The rest of us look at each other wide eyed. Really? Not even half? No. Riigghhtt.

We roll over the start line. Hundreds of loud clicks fill the air as everyone clips into their pedals. Sixty-one miles to go. Everyone talking. Smiling. Great atmosphere.

Barely pedal for the first mile as we coast down the main road. Our mini peloton of twenty swings left into a small lane and up a hill. This is great.

Another hill. Power up it. Feel really strong. Take a drink. The top explodes off the bottle and hits me in the face. Get soaked but somehow manage to catch the top.

I up my pace. Bridge a gap. Get my breath back. Round Box Hill. Bridge another gap. This is great fun. Climbing really well and getting bolder coming down again.

Ride and chat with another fella doing his first sportive. Down a hill really fast now. My back wheel is all over the place. Very nearly wiped out. Scary. We slow down. He tells me my back tyre doesn't look right. It isn't. It has a drawing pin in it.

I notice quite a few people fixing punctures. Tack? Me too. What sort of person throws tacks on a road? I don't know mate. Need a hand fixing that? No thanks. Cheers for the offer though.

Get going again. Bridging gaps and having fun. Arrive at the first feed station. Fill my bottles. Grab some food. Take a leak. Sorted.

Picture postcard scenery. Thatched cottages. Duck ponds. Quintessential England. We swing left onto Leith Hill. Deep breath. Here we go. Hills are my weak spot. Been practising though. Come on legs.

Am I going too fast? I am cruising past people. Keep it going. Spot someone going at my pace. Dig very deep and get on his wheel. That was hard. He's from Malaysia. His English isn't very good. We both understand what's needed of each other though.

Teamwork. Pacing each other. Legs hurting. Lungs burning. Broad grins. We get the job done. We pat each other on the back when we reach the top.

Get a bit carried away on the long sweeping road down again. Back off the pace a bit and take in the view. Stunning. Feel a bit of a niggle in my hamstring. Try my best to stretch it out. It’s fine. Left turn signposted Whitedown Lane. The final steep climb. So soon after Leith Hill? Come on legs.

I can feel my hamstring starting to cramp. Not now! I stretch it out again. Partial relief. Round the corner the road ramps up. Nearly everyone is pushing their bike. I will not stop. Spasm. Agony. Just about manage to unclip before I fall. I stop.

Stretch it out. Surely I can get over this. Stretch it again. The spasm subsides. The muscle relaxes. I’ll be OK. Don’t rush it. More stretches. An energy gel and fluids. Let’s go.

I won’t make it sitting down and grinding up. I’ll cramp up again. Need to get out of the saddle and power up. That’s not really my thing. No choice though. Other than walking. I refuse to walk. Bravado. Stupidity?

It’s not easy to clip in on a steep hill. The walkers stop and shout encouragement. I give it everything. The effort is ridiculous. Slow motion. One crank rotation at a time. Slowly inching past people. I’m half way there. They are still cheering me on. I can see the top. My legs are like jelly but I make it.

I coast down the hill. Give my leg a rest. Leith Hill was fine. Whitedown Lane was fine. One straight after the other was brutal. No more hills left though. Nothing worth worrying about anyway.

I spy the last feed station through the trees. I am hungry and thirsty. Is that why I got cramp? I dump my bike on the grass. Two fig rolls and a huge amount of energy drink. Two more fig rolls and two jaffa cakes. And half a banana. And another jaffa cake. Washed down with energy drink. And another fig roll. Fuel.

The final stretch. Fifteen miles to go. We chatter as we ride. About hills. Falling off into bushes. The wonderful camaraderie. The strange noise someone’s bike is making. Mainly about the fun.

Get stopped by a level crossing. Wait for an age. Cyclists start to pile up at the barriers. Impatient. A train passes. Another age goes by. An encouraging shout rings out. Just one more hill everyone! Surprised looks all round. Alarm bells going off. Two more trains pass. The barrier goes up.

There really is a steep hill. I go for it. No messing. I get on the wheel of someone looking strong and go with him. We make good progress until he shouts “stopping!” and veers onto the verge. censored . I’m on my own. More shouts of stopping. I am not stopping. I am NOT stopping.

Fuelled by fig rolls I power to the top in quite un-me-like fashion. I feel strong again. I bridge a gap and join a group. Get my breath back. Bridge another gap. Not far now.

The finish is now in sight. Despite the tiredness everyone starts sprinting after each other. It isn’t even a race. Hilarious. I’m joining in though. Obviously.

Over the finish line. A cheery official shouts well done, you did it.

I’ll do it again too.

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This is posted (along with other cycling thoughts) on my blog: http://e17blade.wordpress.com/


Cheers.

Dave

Posts

  • CalpolCalpol Posts: 1,039
    Nice write up - well done.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    edited April 2013
    Well done on the successful ride and thanks for taking the time to do a write up. Enjoyed reading (sorry, but paragraph 15 made me giggle :oops: )


    But are you sure you would not have rather just gone out on your own and saved a few quid :lol:
  • Cleat EastwoodCleat Eastwood Posts: 8,191
    Nice. That sound of everyone clipping in is like the first cuckoo of spring - so memorable. What was the big final hill by the way?
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
    Nice. That sound of everyone clipping in is like the first cuckoo of spring - so memorable. What was the big final hill by the way?

    The final "big" hill was Pebblehill Road (I think).

    Big by my standards after nearly 60 miles anyway!
  • GuanajuatoGuanajuato Posts: 399
    Trying to take your mind off disappointments in a different sport? Your username suggests we may be like-minded sufferers. :-D

    Well-written, and a good read.
  • elderoneelderone Posts: 1,410
    Brilliant write up,really enjoyed it.Buzzed me up for my first sportive coming up.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • Great write up and really enjoyed reading it! - Well done mate sounds like a good effort and i'm sure you felt great once you'd finished
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    I have only done one sportive to date (tour of Britain cycle show one last year). Really enjoyed it but it seems boring compared to yours :(
    Riders were released in small groups and numbers seemed generally low so not much action.

    Have a local 64 mile in a couple of weeks but feel that will be even less eventful. Am mainly doing it for training and to get a better idea of my time for up coming 100 mile one.

    I will make the effort to find a hilly 60 (like the one you did) and an 'undulating' 80 now too ;-)

    Am not sure why people moan about them. Seems a good value day out to me
  • e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
    Guanajuato wrote:
    Trying to take your mind off disappointments in a different sport? Your username suggests we may be like-minded sufferers. :-D

    Well-written, and a good read.

    'Sufferer' is a good way to describe being a Blade these days. Play offs AGAIN!!
  • e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
    Carbonator wrote:
    I have only done one sportive to date (tour of Britain cycle show one last year). Really enjoyed it but it seems boring compared to yours :(
    Riders were released in small groups and numbers seemed generally low so not much action.

    Have a local 64 mile in a couple of weeks but feel that will be even less eventful. Am mainly doing it for training and to get a better idea of my time for up coming 100 mile one.

    I will make the effort to find a hilly 60 (like the one you did) and an 'undulating' 80 now too ;-)

    Am not sure why people moan about them. Seems a good value day out to me

    I think the way they set everyone off worked really well. Reasonable sized groups at reasonable intervals. The road was never crowded but you were never on your own either. Hence the good atmosphere I suppose.
  • fishywebfishyweb Posts: 173
    A very enjoyable read - thanks!

    I did the Classic Oxfordshire 60 a couple of years ago - my only sportive so far, and enjoyed it, although I think it was lower key than your event. I'm doing it again next Sunday, as it happens. I'm then doing my first century - the Chiltern Challenge - in June, which I think is on a larger scale. Your write-up has got me into the mood for both of these! :D My longest planned training ride is 70, but hopefully that will be enough to get me round.
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/287459
    Member of http://www.UKnetrunner.co.UK - the greatest online affiliated running club
  • dav1d1dav1d1 Posts: 653
    Great write up! Really got me in the mood to find one local and do it
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    Fantastic write up and enjoyed the humour.

    Well done indeed!
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • e17blade wrote:
    Guanajuato wrote:
    Trying to take your mind off disappointments in a different sport? Your username suggests we may be like-minded sufferers. :-D

    Well-written, and a good read.

    'Sufferer' is a good way to describe being a Blade these days. Play offs AGAIN!!

    That guy that pipped you on the line in the sprint, he was an Owl. lol
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,028
    Excellent... Thanks for sharing
  • mrbubbamanmrbubbaman Posts: 165
    Good little write up, I was also there that day :)
    I walked up the last two hills, the first time I had no choice as the road was blocked by cars trying to get up and down and the second time I just had nothing left in my legs, I don't think I ate enough at the last feed station, for some reason I didn't want people to think I was taking the piss by taking lots of food (really enjoyed the jelly beans though :mrgreen: )

    At the end I of the ride I mentioned to my mate I was with, that I wasn't doing this one again, but after a few days I decided I was and I wasn't walking up any hills!
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,028
    so did someone throw tacks on the road?
  • e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
    Mikey23 wrote:
    so did someone throw tacks on the road?

    Yup. I so nearly crashed while going pretty fast.

    Pointed out where it was on a map to the organisers at the end and they said quite a few people had the same problem.
  • bazzer2bazzer2 Posts: 189
    Wow. Tacks in the road... Really?

    That could be exceedingly dangerous, I hope the police have taken it seriously.
  • mrbubbamanmrbubbaman Posts: 165
    e17blade wrote:
    Mikey23 wrote:
    so did someone throw tacks on the road?

    Yup. I so nearly crashed while going pretty fast.

    Pointed out where it was on a map to the organisers at the end and they said quite a few people had the same problem.

    I thought it was strange that so many people were getting punctures, passed so many people changing tubes at the side of the road, luckily none of my group got any
  • e17bladee17blade Posts: 214
    mrbubbaman wrote:
    e17blade wrote:
    Mikey23 wrote:
    so did someone throw tacks on the road?

    Yup. I so nearly crashed while going pretty fast.

    Pointed out where it was on a map to the organisers at the end and they said quite a few people had the same problem.

    I thought it was strange that so many people were getting punctures, passed so many people changing tubes at the side of the road, luckily none of my group got any

    A club went past while I was changing tubes and asked if I needed help. They said that they were nearly out of spare tubes between them so it didn't just catch the sportive riders.
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