Heart of the Wolds Sportive
It hasn't been the greatest start to 2013 cycling-wise. I had a pain in my left knee which was diagnosed as a bruised cartilage, coupled with the sensory nerve damage in the other knee meant that I was restricted to rides of less than 40 miles and no hills for quite a few weeks. But a couple of weeks before this Sportive was due to take place everything seemed to be settling into position, so I was looking forward to the first 'organised' ride of the year.
There was a choice of three distances 50, 100 and 134 km. South Cave Road Club (Scott and me) had plumped for the standard 100km ride. 50 is too short and 134 would have meant either going like the clappers or missing the kick off for Hull KR vs Leeds.
The given start time for the 100k was 9.30 but we arrived quite early hoping to get away sharpish (not to be), but we saw plenty of familiar faces milling around and took advantage of the free coffee on offer and a couple of biscuits. There were plenty of Army cadets on hand to direct parking traffic and contestants.
The weather was dry but very grey and a bit nippy. There was a vast array of leg warmers, bib tights and trackie bottoms on display, but luckily my leg wear is set like school central heating. Once I have put shorts on for the first time in a year I stick with them right through the summer (good or bad).
The start officials would not let us start early but we were lined up to be the first batch of riders to set off. The Town Crier had been hired to send every rider on their way; something along the lines of "when I ring this bell – ride like Hell". Like Hell – we would not – this was a day out and not something to spoil by pain and suffering. Sky has 'marginal gains' SCRC has 'marginal effort'.
The army cadets directed us out of Driffield Showground and persuaded traffic to let us out onto the main road and after that the course was signposted. The first big roundabout was 200 metres ahead and we took a left turn following the two riders in front.
"Funny – I didn't even notice the first sign for here" I casually mentioned to Scott. Luckily the 10 other riders in the first batch did and they all shouted to us that we were going the wrong way as they carried on round the roundabout! A swift 180˚ turn and we were back on track.
The first two miles were on the main Scarborough road but as the weather was none too clever there weren't many daytrippers in cars to worry about, and before long we were onto a lane on the way to Kilham. Our aim of the day was to enjoy the ride, not get lost and finish in time to see Rovers play – so we settled into a pace that was a little above normal but not so as you'd notice.
The wind was really quite strong, so we shamelessly tagged at the back of various groups of riders to reduce our workload. After two miles of wheel sucking one group I felt the pace was a bit pedestrian, so I pulled out and with Scott in tow headed up front to leave them. To my surprise, when I next looked back – they were on OUR tails!
My less than whippet physique is a hindrance on long climbs, but I enjoy short punchy climbs when I can stay in the big chainring and power up. On one such climb I got to the top a fair way ahead of the group of eight we were currently in. The top of the climb was a main road junction, so I went across and then waved the others straight over without them having to slow down. They were grateful for the assistance – and I think it could be implemented as a Sportive rule – that if you come to a junction first you should be required to wave at least half a dozen others over. That and a couple of pretty girls to give you a bouquet and a kiss when you finish.
The first feed station was manned by riders from Cottingham Road Club that we are both members of – so it was nice to see a couple of familiar (if far from pretty) faces. There was an eclectic mix of bananas, cola bottle Haribos, custard creams and energy drinks to consume. A ride of sixty miles doesn't need a food stop as I can manage on a flapjack in my pocket – but having paid an entrance fee I wanted VFM!
By now the grey had lifted and the Sun was making a determined effort to lift the day, but I was never tempted into taking of my top jacket and stuffing it into a pocket. There were a couple of longish climbs and a couple of riders took the option of walking up, but at my own pace I made my way up – usually to find Scott just finishing off a watercolour of the local scenery that he had painted whilst waiting for me at the summit.
The second feedstation was only ten miles from the finish and they were all downhill. Scott wasn't keen on stopping but I said we would just take a quick peek at what was on offer. As I stopped I was nearly knocked off my bike by Scott running past me as he had seen sausage rolls. Such was his haste to cram his fists full of them, he didn't notice the plate of doughnuts on offer also. We would later learn that the first feed station had initially been stocked with similar goodies but the 134km riders had descended like a plague of locusts and made off with every last one.
The last ten miles was indeed either downhill or flat and all with a tailwind – so we arrived back at the finish line in high spirits. The feelgood factor was heightened with a complimentary free half pint of Maillot Jaune ale, and pie and peas. On coming out of the refreshment hunt we noticed that all the riders had plastic bags. We had missed these being handed out so went back to the finish line and collected ours, which contained various flyers, a bottle of water and a stick of rock.
As we began to make our way back to the car I noticed a massage table. This was manned by staff from Warners (a local sports physio organisation), they were ones that had diagnosed and treated my knee so I felt I should pop round and say thanks. Unfortunately my train of thought was interrupted by a cry of anguish from Scott. As I turned round I saw that his goody bag had got caught in his front wheel and he was off the bike. Full of concern I only secreted a little bit of wee as I laughed uncontrollably and went back to offer assistance. The water bottle was wedged tight between his wheel and fork. The only way to remove this was to let the water out of the bottle and squeeze the bottle, luckily it did not spoil his paper flyers as these were now blowing across the event village and onto the finish line.
When we got back to the car and did a quick change we both found the emergency numbers we were given at registration and had left in the car. All in all it was a well-run first event by Sports Lab and most enjoyable.
We got to Craven Park at 2.57 for a 3pm kick off – not surprisingly Rovers lost 44-10.