Le Terrier Sportive 2012 in Terrible Weather

Le Terrier is a sportive event held in Lancaster. They have 3 routes to choose from of different distances. I had entered the 72 mile event as I was ‘borrowing’ someone elses’ hilly route so I could claim a DIY GPS Audax AAA ride.

1 Le Terrier Hettie on the top at Cross O'Greet, it was just too wet to bring out the camera more frequently on this ride.

I know, I know, its looked upon poorly by Audax riders to do this, either it’s a Sportive or an Audax, not both, but I do get bored by cycling Audax DIY GPS AAA on the Island, and this way I get to ride a social ride with others, and not have to plan the route myself.

I downloaded the route into my GPS SATMAP, and picked out the corners and the shortest roads as controls for an Audax and sent off my Audax Entry before setting off.

As it happened, I was taking TT week off from work, it’s a busy busy time on the island and I don’t feel safe cycling in TT week. My eldest is at Lancaster Uni, so I had a bit of floor for free I could use and I could test out my lightest weight sleeping bag and sleeping mat ready for N. Ireland camping too. The trip to Lancaster was good and sunny and mild.

Sadly, this was not to be for the sportive its self though the following day. The ride was timed by an electronic tab one wore round ones neck. The registration was from 6.30am at the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster, Id never been to this before, it was a beautiful building up close. Must go back and check it out properly one day. It was raining when I cycled up the A6 and into Lancaster to the Memorial for the start and it was bloomin cold too. It turned out the day of the Sportive, that the temperature met a maximum of 10 degrees C with a max of just 6 degrees on the hill tops – chilly indeed.

As a seasoned Audaxer I was well prepared though. A base layer, a cycle jersey, my wet weather wind proof light weight Paramo jersey that I had waterproofed before coming to Lancaster, 3 seasoned longs, Sealskin short summer weight socks and Goretex overshoes, plus I had borrowed a pair of Beths’ winter weight gloves too.

Other cyclists at the start were in summer clothes, some in shorts and jerseys with just a light rain jacket on. I met up with Mike again, Patricks’ cousin, he was doing the Sportive as well, but on the 100 mile course I believe. There are still no results online as yet, so I don’t know if Mike finished or not.

It was really cold. There was a wind too which drove the rain into you. I was off by 6.45 am if I remember correctly. The route was lovely, over Jubilee Hill (well it was the Diamond Jubilee weekend!), and onward through the Trough of Bowland to Slaidburn and up Cross O’Greet to Wray, and then returning to Lancaster. The 100 mile course was longer of course.

You know your not having a good time, when you glance down at your bike milometer and note it only says 4.5 miles when you were convinced it should have said over 10! It was a tough day. Strong winds which hardly ever seemed to be in your favour, plus hours and hours and hours of constant rain or drizzle. Thankfully the organisers had sorted out food stops. I forgot to bring anything to eat at all, having stayed at the Uni the previous night.

Second control handed me a most delicious homemade flapjack – a big slab of it too. Then coming up out of Slaidburn a tent appeared on the horizon and I was beckoned in. OOOOhhhh, piles of lovely sandwiches, bananas, more and more cake. Hettie was hastily left in the wind and rain as I took cover for a bit of scoffing. Hot tea was the only thing missing, but I could cope – others were.

I had passed Craig from the Isle of Man Mountain Bike club at the 25 mile mark, and wondered if he bailed or not. He was in a bus shelter and I had stopped. He was blue with the cold, his hands were white from lack of circulation. Unable to control his hands he was trying desperately to warm up, I think his partner had been called and he was bailing. I didn’t see Craig again on the Sportive. He was doing the 100 mile route.

I spotted a lot of cyclists cycling in winter conditions but wearing (as expected for June!) summer clothing. Control stops all said I was first woman past them – but perhaps the only woman out that day! There had been a lot of pulled riders due to the awful weather.

The most dangerous ride I had ever done was this one. Nothing to do with the course, which would have been wonderful on any other day but today. The weather conditions had turned it slippery. Weeks’ previous hot weather, had caused tar from the road to bubble to surface, and then harden. Now the rain made that tar like ice as your road wheels met it. On this 72 mile circuit, I walked DOWN hills as frequently has I had to cycle up them! At one point, on a right/then left handed hairpin bend downhill, I had turned on my anchors as the left handside of the road had fallen inwards and had a pot hole deep enough to bury your bike up to her hubs on both wheels. Veering Hettie to the right, I braked, only for both wheels to lock completely and we both continued fast along the ‘icy’ tarmac, thankfully I had not been going that fast, Hettie bucked and twisted it was a very close call, at the last moment I let go of the brakes and she hurtled down the road finally out of skid. I learnt a lesson that was to save us again and again.

Almost every hill steeper than a 12% I had to walk down, or the rear wheel simply locked up, or worse the brakes were ineffectual. The rain soaked the rims and brake blocks making an excellent lubricant, especially when road grim and road grease were added!


The Garmin info.

I was so pleased to be seeing signs for Lancaster again. Returning to the Memorial the organisers had sorted out soup and tea with a bread roll. A welcome exchange for a receipt for my time and dibber. 8 hours! This was one of my longest GPS rides I have done for some time! Still enjoyed it though, and the challenges were well worth it. Hettie and I have free digs in Lancaster for the next 3 seasons. We will be back next year, with any luck wearing sunglasses and shorts!

7 comments on “Le Terrier Sportive 2012 in Terrible Weather”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Well done Mary, especially in the awful weather. We seem to be having another diabolical 'summer' (the solstice is only a week away) – North West England is forecast not to exceed 12-14 degrees during the next seven days. It's bewildering. But, for the big picture, some weather info links:

    UK mapped climate averages. Comparisons of temperature, sunshine, rainfall etc between the periods 1961-1990 and 1971-2000.

    The current position of the Jet Stream. At the time of writing, showing the polar air mass 'buckled' over Northern Europe. See also the Jet Stream here.

    Archive of Jet Stream maps for the North Atlantic. As an example, the map for 26th March when Chris and I cycled under blue skies and temperatures of 21+ degrees shows the Jet Stream well to the north of the UK.

    It is tempting to believe the British climate has taken a turn for the worse over the past few years but overall I'd say the records show this is not the case.

    Mary wrote: We will be back next year, with any luck wearing sunglasses and shorts!

    Fingers crossed. It might well happen... the sunglasses etc. Or even next February.

  2. Hilary wrote:

    You did well to finish that Mary – 8 hours out in those conditions is no fun at all. The road conditions sound particularly grim.

    Hot tea was the only thing missing

    I knew there was a reason why I don't do sportives! 😀

    Its not just in the North West that the weather is miserable, its no better here in the deep south. The only time I've cycled in short sleeves was in March (altho I think it was warm while we were in France) and I've recently gone back to 3/4 tights. I'm cycling in the sort of clothes I would normally wear in early April.

  3. Chris wrote:

    It's rare that I turn up for a bike ride with not enough kit. Normally I have far too much and have to think about what to leave behind. On my last ride I took a huge plastic box filled with cycling clothing. I left behind leg warmers, overshoes, "waterproof" gloves, two tops and a coffee cake (Mrs Bailey drove home with my surplus clobber and other stuff after we had stayed over on the northeast coast). Quite how anyone can turn up to an event in summer clothing with good weather such an unlikely prospect is a mystery to me.

    Anyway, well done in grinding out yet more hard-earned Audax points. And well done in staying upright. Sounds like you deserved that cuppa :smile: Is there a cut-off time for DIY Audax rides, I wonder.

  4. Mary wrote:

    For a 100km DIY time allowed is 10 hours.

    For a 150km DIY time allowed is 15 hours

    Times are the same as allowed for Brevet card events.

    200km though max time is 13.5 hrs or an average speed of 14kph – just enough for me on a hilly route.

    Times are printed in the handbook (somewhere near the back)

  5. Mary wrote:

    Im known on the island as 'She who cycles with the suitcase'.

    My Carradice bag is always close to bursting on any ride Im doing. This ride was the first one in yonks where my Carradice was nearly empty, because apart from my repair kit, and a pair of overtrousers, I had the rest on!

    Like you, I prefer preparation, and looking ahead for problems. I always have too much as well. The only things I didnt wear on this ride were my Gore overtrousers, that I took because they are great to slip on if you get a puncture and have to spend time in the cold while replacing a tyre.

    Not to keep you dry as such, but to keep you cosy while you work.

  6. Kern wrote:

    What an ugly day. Your skid on the left-right switchback is stomach-churning. Well done completing the ride. Maybe the rest of summer will show some promise for weather.

  7. Patrick wrote:

    Yesterday was very ugly in Northern England, with one month's rainfall in 24 hours. Liam Dutton explains why it's the fault of the jet stream.

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