6.00am and I'm wearing lycra which can only mean one thing, a sportive, the Cheddar Cyclosportive in fact. I'd packed the bike and most of the bike stuff in the car yesterday which meant I only had to grab my bag with food, change of clothes and my long sleeved jersey in, which I didn't ! Of course I only realised this when I got to a chilly Cheddar rugby ground after I'd registered, oh well. I had a Gilet and my last resort boil in the bag waterproof jacket, it was chilly so opted for the jacket. I rolled down to the start and met up with the assembled members of the Axbridge Cycle Group who had said they'd help me get around the one hundred mile course. Waiting to start I warmed up so swapped the jacket for the Gilet but had bare arms, well I am a northerner, so I just had to pretend I was trying to be a tough guy whilst everybody else probably thought, look at that numpty!
To borrow a footballing analogy the sportive is a ride of two halves or possibly two thirds and a third, you get the idea, the first sixty five miles is pretty flat with the odd lump with all the big climbs in the last forty if you opt to do the full route. The first thirty to the feed stop whizzed by, lots of fast moving groups, I hope I did my bit, I'm not really used to all the pedalling though. The sportive is a relatively small event but the feed stops must be some of the best, village hall affairs for the first two with proper facilities and lots of choice to eat, flapjack was consumed. The twenty miles to the next stop could of been even faster, you could probably smell the testosterone, or was it cow poo? After negotiating some little ups we stopped at Banwell and its pretend castle to decide if we were going to continue with the long route. I was in two minds and feeling the pace a bit but I said I'd do it. The wind and the rain had arrived by now and I was feeling a bit rough, the route split at Cheddar and we ploughed on, onwards and upwards! Then there was four, Guy, Steve, Martyn and myself.
First big climb of the day, up through the Gorge and it felt like hard work and the rain got heavier as we neared the top, I got towed up and was very thankful for it, it was very wet now. We made our way to Priddy and the last feed stop which was a tent, in a field but it was shelter. Bailing was considered but dismissed, thirty miles to go, crack on. It was a very wet descent down to Wells before heading up the next big hill, Old Bristol road apparently, it was very long but my kind of hill, pick a gear and spin. Steve unfortunately had a puncture about half way up, Guy stayed with him and myself and Martyn went on, they'd catch up, Guy's a forty something on a Trek, they're all the rage at the moment ;) The following bit was what you'd class as undulating and the others caught up with us at Blagdon before heading onto the last climb of the day at Burrington Combe. Another long slow drag, well for me anyway, but it was only about ten miles to go now which lifted my spirits if not my legs. It started raining heavily again after a brief respite after Wells and Guy and Martyn cracked on, it's no fun hanging around in the rain. Steve stayed with me and we made our way across the top of a misty murky Mendips, every mile a little closer to the finish, some welcome downhills even if they were a bit rough in places. Down Shipham Hill and the straight back to the rugby club, not many cars in the car park, one hundred miles done.
Big thanks to Steve, Martyn, Guy and Jennifer for sticking with me today, really appreciated.
Here's the Strava bit.....