3rd leg

The Evans RideIT South Downs Sportive

The 2nd organised event of the year for me, and it was the Evans RideIT South Downs Sportive which was hosted at the rather unique and picturesque Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, a time capsule of the way life used to be and how people lived.

It was a lovely setting to start the ride, the only shame being that the car park was a good 5 minute walk from registration and the start line, and the path from the car park was very rocky and I’d be very surprised if no one suffered a puncture before they even started.

As always registration was a breeze, all over in 30 seconds and then it was off to the start line for the pre-ride briefing. I was there fairly early so go into one of the first few groups to go, and as we set off there were people still arriving by car.

I had originally registered for the long (72 mile) ride, but given the lack if miles I have managed to get in since the last event due to work commitments, I very rationally decided to drop down to the medium (50 mile) event. That was a good call on my behalf – it was plenty!

The ride started with a gradual 6 mile climb up to the top of Duncton Hill. Not really troubling or anything and the descent after it was a welcome reward. The ride even at this point was proving to be quiet and scenic – just the way I like it.

The the next 16 or so miles took us north towards Fenhurst, the overall gradient of which was again uphill, but with lots and lots of lumps along the way. Still, it wasn’t too troublesome, and the first leg was finished with a slightly more troublesome climb up Linch Road, Redford. The feed station was right at the top of the climb and was a welcome sight.

Although it doesn’t look like it I was quite enjoying it at this point.

1st leg

 

The second leg however was going to really push me to my limited limits…

The descent from Redford I think must have lulled me in to a false sense of security. The was a joyous descent on a love quiet wide road. Just what the doctor ordered, but within 6 miles we were on another of those gradual climbs, this time in the shape of Gatehouse Lane, which went on for about 3 miles. Grinding out the miles was becoming hard work…

But again, after grinding out the climb we were met with another descent, this time down to Rogate and then the rolling ups and downs that took us to the dreaded Harting.

They stationed the feed stop at the top of Harting Hill. I still don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand I could have done with a brief break before setting up Harting Hill, but on the other hand, it was something to motivate me up the climb. I was so fearful of bombing out like I did on Whitedown a few weeks ago, so I set my gaze 2 feet ahead of me on the ground and just pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I’m pretty sure that getting off and walking would have been quicker, but there was no way this hill was going to beat me. Not today!

And so I arrived at the 2nd feedstop. All sorts of expletives left behind on the hill, but I had made it and I was spent.

2nd leg

 

But the cakes, and flapjack and bananas and cake at the feedstop did their job and within about 5 minutes I was feeling refreshed. Refreshed and focussed on the final leg. Now to my mind the final leg was downhill all the way. We were just heading down toward the coast. It must have been right? Sort of…

The initial descent after Harting Hill was very welcome but then met with a short sharp lump in the form of North Marden climb before then being offered the next phase of descent down to Lavant. And so it seemed that I had broken the back of the ride and we were plain sailing for home. Wrong!

I had forgotten we were going to be swinging back round to Singleton via Goodwood. And Goodwood isn’t flat. Far from it! In fact it’s a 1 mile 6% gradient climb. Now that might not seem too challenging but after 47 miles and Harting Hill it seemed like 10 miles at 15%. 2 feet ahead. Focus on the road and just turn the pedals. It was pretty horrible and eventually I made to the the peak to be offered a final sharp descent back to the start at the Open Air Museum.

My early season form hasn’t had a chance to build and today’s ride showed that again. I was very grateful it was over.

3rd leg

 

This is today’s ride as logged by Strava.

Once again Evans did a great job at putting the ride on. If you are looking for a relatively good value ride, with flexibility of routes, and good organisation then I can recommend them highly. They do a good job with smiles on their faces.

Good to get another 50 under my belt, and 2nd of a planned 10 events this year, but more training is needed. 2015 is definitely a work in progress!

 

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Done

Done

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Harting hill done. Ouch. 38m done and 13m to go

Harting hill done. Ouch. 38m done and 13m to go

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28 miles done. 23 to go

28 miles done. 23 to go

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Quick outing

Managed to steal a lunch hour today again and did the same route as Tuesday. Managed to shave off about 3 minutes on the 17 mile course which is pretty good going so happy with that. Definitely signs of life!

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Recovery Ride

Managed to get our for a quick hours ride to blow away memories from Sunday and see how my legs would fare. It was a bright sunny day but there was still a formidable wind that really buffered me from the side, quite harshly at times.

I was quite pleased to see my pace being back up to where I would hope it would be (something it never even got near on Sunday), although my backside and legs were still sore.

Still, good to get out and put a few more miles under my belt. Next ride (if I get the chance) on Thursday.

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Near Miss Car turning left Thumbnail

How NOT to overtake and turn left

This particular scene took place on the Evans RideIT Sandown Park Sportive.

It’s a great example of a car driver not giving any consideration to the speed a cyclist can travel. You can see that the car is already indicating to turn left as she overtakes myself and the rider in front.
Reaching the petrol station she then realises that the rider in front is too close to her and then panics. Puts on the brakes, and you then have a semi-standoff where the rider in front in then forced to undertake, and I am drawn out into the middle of the road to pass.

If the driver had a tiny bit of patience and had followed myself and the rider in front for what would have been 5 seconds, we could have passed the petrol station turning without incident, and she could have pulled in comfortably and safely.
Instead a very unnecessary incident was caused.

Car’s overtaking and then turning almost immediately left across my path is one of the most common acts of impatient driving and causes so many potential incidents. 5 seconds. That’s all. 5 seconds, and instead we get this.

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EVSANSPOR_0289

Photos from the Evans Sandown Park Sportive

A couple of photos from yesterday’s sportive. Feeling pretty beaten up today. I’m sure in hindsight that I’m just not cycle fit right now but the ride has given me resolve to get stronger again. 3 weeks till the next challenge…

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I’ve added the Sportive to the 2015 Rides menu along with these photos and the GPX file for anyone interested in downloading the file and trying the route for themselves.

 

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Season opener. It’s going to be a Loooong Season!

Today was the Evans RideIt Sandown Park Sportive. I opted for the Long ride which was 70 miles, and I have to say that when I signed up I didn’t think that a 70 miler would be that much of a problem. How wrong I was. As a season opener, the Evans RideIt site had this one down as a 3/5 difficulty rating. Hmmmm. None of this felt like a 3/5 difficulty rating and what with Coombe Lane and Whitedown to contend with there were some serious climbs.

The day itself was sunny and dry, with a bit of a chill, but the conditions seemed pretty good for the ride. What I hadn’t counted was the wind. Now don’t get me wrong, we are not talking about force 10 gales here, but there was a strong wind that meant the first 1/2 of the ride was pretty much face on into it, which made developing any rolling momentum very unlikely. Already the fight was on and we were only just out of the block.

Heading south from  Esher, we crossed over the A3 and M25, and headed down into the North downs. The first 2 climbs of the day came pretty quickly. I wasn’t prepared for them to come so early in the ride, but as it turns out it was probably a blessing, since my legs were still fairly fresh. We hit Shere Hill, closely followed by Coombe Hill at the 20km mark of the ride and then progressed towards the next climb, Hound House, which was more of a long drag up rather than a leg burner. Still those 2 climbs conquered without too much issue and things were looking OK. Not fast, but OK.

Once we had made it around Ewhurst we ended up at the first (and what would also prove to be the second) refreshment stop at Walliswood where there was plenty of cake (mmmm), High5 drink, jelly beans, bananas, more cake, flapjack and energy bars. This was the turning point in the ride for me. I don’t know if I didn’t take on enough food, or didn’t stop for long enough, but as I went off for the loop of the ride that would ultimately bring me back to this feed stop things took a turn for the worse. I just didn’t feel like I had any power at all. This section was the ride was (on the map) flat, but even the smallest of lumps that I would normally get over without second though became a real challenge. At times it was like I was cycling through syrup and my mind started taking me to deep places. 50KM in and I was in trouble.

The fact that it was “only” 20 miles till the next feed stop kept me going and slowly and surely I just kept knocking the miles off. The route at this point because fairly non-descript and another thing that occurred to me was that many of the roads on this ride were pretty cut up from the winter. This, along with the wind, also took it’s toll and comfort all but disappeared, and momentum became very forced.

As we passed through Cranleigh I sensed we were getting close to the feed stop and then we hit the road that we had come along the first time round to the feed station. So another concerted push and I arrived at the feed station the second time round. This time I took on much more food, drink, and relieved myself. I took a little extra time to try and recover and this time felt fresher leaving than I had the first time round. Except this time I had an overbearing concern about what I knew was coming up. Whitedown. Whitedown at the best of times is horrific. Today it would be worse. And it was.

Going into today I was proud to say I no climb had ever beaten me (since I took up cycling again in 2012), but today Whitedown was my maker, and I met him straight on. I got up the early section of the climb OK but as I turned the hairpin corner of the climb (i.e. just when the going gets tough) I cramped in in both my thighs. It was a case of climb off or fall off, and given the circumstances I knew I was beaten today. Reluctantly I climbed off, and crippled by cramp had to stand and massage my thighs for about a minute until I could muster a walking movement and then made the walk of shame to the summit. I wasn’t alone, but I felt very alone. The walk cleared up the cramp (Had I just been unfortunate with timing and had I got to Whitedown 5 minutes later would the extra liquid I worked hard to take on board before the climb have taken effect?) and as I reached the summit I felt quite fresh. I flew down the descent and made my way for home. On flat or descent I was fine. Any lump, however minor, and there was still no power. I was definitely not firing on all cylinders today.

Finally I crossed the M25 again, and then the A3, and then the familiar approach to Sandown Park was upon me. I dug deep and finished as best I could. Spent. Totally spent.

I don’t really know what happened today. I could just be out of shape (possible because I took a new job in February and my rides have been very restricted as a result). I could have underestimated the ride. The elements could have taken their toll on me without me realising. Or there’s a more underlying reason which isn’t apparent yet. Who knows.

What I do know is that I have another 70 miler booked in 3 weeks. That is a 4/5 difficulty rating. I’ve got my work cut out for me to get to the bottom of today, get some more miles in, and see how I fare. It sounds awful but I face the very real prospect of having to drop down to the 50 mile route if I don’t make any headway n the next 3 weeks… It used to be fun this cycling lark.

Here’s the ride from today

And here’s an unimpressed and spent me at the end.

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Snow good

We today was meant to be the first sportive of the season and a chance to knock off 60 miles or so in 1 ride. Alas, we were hit by a small smattering of snow, which was enough to get the sportive cancelled. Frustrating for sure but of course better to be safe than sorry.

Now really I should have gone out and done a BIG ride to compensate, but I couldn;t get motivated, which sound really bad, but it was pretty gloomy out there, and I started a new contract this week so was feeling mentally a bit exhausted as well.

But I did go out at least and did a short circuit and adding 15 miles or so to the tally. No disaster for sure but not where I wanted to be for the end of January which is circa 292 miles for the month which is about 120 miles under budget so to speak, but given it’s January and it’s much harder to motivate and get out, not too bad either.

I have also lost 4 lbs in January, and stayed “dry”. So some things to be happy about.

Anyway, today’s ride details were as follows

Also, on Wednesday I did a ride which I didn’t diarise. It was a better length ride and the last before my contract started – which will make getting out a whole lot harder. I got absolutely soaked but somehow it made it even more enjoyable. Go figure…

It will be interesting to see where I stand at the end of February. My day time rides during the week will get completely curtailed and I will be left to either work out some commute strategies (unlikely) or resort to night rides, or turbo sessions. We shall see.

Now where’s that wagon so I can fall off it?

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