Chipping Sodbury Sportive - 60 mile route
Well a 6am alarm is not my idea of fun any morning, let alone on a Sunday morning. But it was at my request. The Chipping Sodbury inaugural Sportive had sign in from 7am and start slots from 8. So we needed to eat before we left home. Two Oatibix and a banana later we were on our way to the start line.
We were amongst the first to arrive and having signed on, I took a moment to have some water and reflect on what was going to be quite a hard day. The sun was poking through occasionally and when it did, it revealed the potential for heat to add to the already humid and airless conditions.
Deciding that the key aim was to avoid the broom wagon, and knowing that training had been "minimal" we pushed forwards and got in the second group out. We were amazed by the bike porn on display. My bike for the day was a Cannondale Bad Boy (no really), a 26" "hybrid" and my wife's was a similar part bin special I constructed for her around a Merlin Cycles HT Mountain bike frame. Whilst not sounding glamorous, it is light and effective (and cheap!) and when I lifted the back of my bike round to face the start line, I was a little jealous!
So we set off out of Chipping Sodbury, allowing the expensive carbon bikes to head off into the slightly murky morning as we quickly approached the first challenges which would get us up to Hawkesbury and Hillesley, "up" being the appropriate word. as our 60.5 mile route claimed 1203 metres (3945 ft) of climbing and most of this was in the first few miles as we got up onto the edge of the Cotswolds.
I got off and walked once, then twice as my early morning leg muscles protested, but was pleased that this was not repeated during the day. The organisers had good sign posting and the roads chosen were mainly quiet, except for the odd farmer, boy racer and at one stage a lost milk tanker!
Having swung across the A46 towards Tetbury (signposted but never seen) the first 25 miles ended in Nailsworth, a town noted for being at the bottom of 4 large hills. The organisers had laid on excellent feed stations and we loaded up on banana, flap jack or in the case of my wife, a cheese and pickle roll. We filled the bottles and cycled off towards the next challenge.
The climb out of Nailsworth led up towards the M5.........eventually. It's a climb with several false summits and by the time we made it to the top, we were hot and wondering where the broom wagon was! The next few miles passed ok, and we had the highlight of a long downhill where I managed 40mph and stormed past a few of the younger, lighter riders!
The legs were not so happy at this point and with ten miles to the 48mile feed station, I started not so much "hit the wall" as start to "bounce along the fence". Luckily, my wife who had suffered a little, early doors, started to assert her much better endurance fitness and I slotted in behind to benefit from the draft.
Talking of draft - does energy drink give you wind? It's hard to know if it was the drink or just the gut being asked to perform overtime!
Eventually we got into Rockhampton and the feed station, again excellently stocked by the Rotarians, and banana and flapjack were fired down the throat along with some water and an energy gel!
Off again, the legs gradually improved and after the long but steady climb out of Thornbury, the route gently rolled us back to Chipping Sodbury. A short but unwelcome climb into the High Street was the last proper effort before rolling back into the finish and a well earned pasty!
Well, I think we will do it again. Hopefully one or two of the roads might be missed out as the recent rain had brought stones and mud (and minor streams) onto the tarmac. Training might have been good, but injuries and time did not allow, so all in all an excellent result
Our vital stats were 60.5 miles, 3945 feet climbed, ave speed 11.5 mph and top speed 40mph
Riding time 5:15 (elapsed time will be a bit longer - waiting on the results)
Bananas consumed (both) 8, liquid drunk, at least a gallon, (between us)
Estimated kcals used, me 4,200; Leona 3,000 (yes really!)