Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Dartmoor Classic

Miles cycled this year: 3081

In 169 Hours burning 109100 Kcal climbing 114900ft
Most miles in a week (so far) : 284 (eek!)
Weight 66.3Kg 16.5% fat

Since I last wrote here I’ve been away for a week, no bike. A holiday on the Gower, not my idea, beaches don’t suit me. Not keen on that much water at once!

The Sunday after we got back I was out on Sunday morning, meeting up with Leigh and Andy Pinchen and Dave Baranoski. Exmoor was the order of the day. We warmed up over the Quantocks, and headed to the south of Exmoor. As we approached the Devil’s Elbow at Wiviliscombe, Dave asked me if I had put weight on. I said I had (For years I have been 64Kg/10Stone), he said he thought I had. Leigh said he thought I had when we were waiting for Dave when we started. I assume this was due to my speed of climbing. Dave, not known for his climbing, promptly out climbed me! Hence the reference to my weight above. It is coming down to 64 or thereabouts!

We rode out to Bampton and turned up to Morebath. It is one long steady climb. Part way up we were stopped by a man in a yellow jacket, cyclists came speeding down a side road and they let us pass. It seems we had come across a half ironman triathlon. Now, they seem a funny bunch to me, triathletes, and they did nothing to help themselves change my view. We rode on passing several hundred as we climbed, no talking, many spinning small gears, and all seemingly riding at the same pace, it was almost like they weren’t allowed to pass. Very odd. Andy and Leigh disappeared up the road. We passed groups of onlookers and were cheered. I felt a a bit embarrassed. We were out for, in relative terms, a Sunday jolly. We were offered drinks by the organisers. Dave couldn’t resist, and took a bottle, it was about a third full, we shared it and along with many others dropped it at the road side for collection later.

It was a stiff ride, and what I feel my legs needed. I’ve been doing distance and riding hills, but not real hills.

During the week I started to break my proposed route for September into days. The first full day from The Lizard to Okehampton has maybe 10.000ft of climbing. That’s it, I am going to have to start to seek out hills in long rides!

In that context the ride on Sunday was right up the proverbial street. I had ridden 40 miles on Tuesday, a short ride with Denise on Wednesday, and 30 miles on Thursday. I went on the club run on Saturday, just a easy ride, but couldn’t resist going with the attack over a small hill on the run into Bridgwater. The group was quite small as we left the other side and I sat in and turned early. Still did 33miles.

5am, 5AM, and on a Sunday. Why did I sign up for this ride? Up, pack a bag with drinks, drink a pint of water, and walk out the door. The bike was in the car, I got in and left for Devon. I ate my currant bun on the way. I can’t eat that early. That time of day is reserved for sleeping and snoring.

The Dartmoor Classic ride is organised by Mid-Devon Cycle Club and they do it brilliantly. Parked, signed on and in the pen with 100 other riders to start first at 7.00am. It was 6.40, and a little cool. I was covered in sun cream, and had goose bumps from the cool air. 7.00am came and the second pen was let go first, good natured booing from my pen. 7.04 and we were off. Another 550 riders on the 105 mile ride followed.

It is an easy steady start. I rode on my own, passing others, and passed by a couple. Moving up.

Signs and Marshalls at every major junction makes this ride so easy. Onward and upwards onto Dartmoor then back down through a town. Another slow moving cyclist ahead, large fluorescent orange bag, it’s a paper boy. It is early.

I get into a small group then when I am fishing for food in my back pocket drop something. I best stop and see what it was. It’s some painkillers, carried as I have lost a lump of filling from a tooth the day before. It hasn’t hurt yet, but I don’t want to risk. I ride on and catch the group as we climb. On the descent I loose my saddle bag, it’s got my spares in it so best ride back up and get it. The bracket has broken so I shove it in my jersey and ride on with a distended lump on my stomach. I’ll sort it at the feed station.

As the day goes on I start seeing people standing by the road to support riders. Initially it is single women, then its family groups, I say hello to them all. Those on hills get asked for a push, or I offer them my bike to have a go, all friendly banter. This is a much friendly ride than the Tour of Wessex. We also meet ponies, sheep and a cow on the road, none fortunately in such a position to be dangerous.

I was largely on my own into and out of the feed, but could hear a couple of riders behind me chatting. I eased back, let them pass and sat behind them. We got chatting and it became apparent that one of them, Alec, also rides for Somerset Road Club. It is a big club neither of us were aware of meeting before. The other rider, John was highly amused by this.

Most of the time I had no idea where I was, I knew by the direction of my shadow which was I was going, normally the wrong way. Occasionally we went through somewhere I had heard of, Tavistock and Lydford Gorge came up. They are a long way from the start.

The climbs became hotter and hotter, we were climbing on the moor in the full sun and with a slight tail wind. My bike computer said 96F. Keep drinking, keep drinking.

Back to the feed in Princeton, and we picked up the 65 milers who started at least an hour behind me. Over the moor we picked the pace up. Passing riders all the time, general direction is down, but with one last kick up, then down the last valley the three of us taking turns on the front holding 24mph+ except where the odd kick up in the road showed how the power was now draining from our legs. One last gentle incline and back to the start. Handshakes all round, and get my time. 6hrs 27, a gold medal! On for a burger in a bun, missing the bacon I also asked for, and off home. I lay on the floor and watched England waste my time. I wondered off for a bath, anyone know what the result was? My result was 69th out of 749 finishers, well within my target of top 25%.

I recovered fine, despite the 9000ft of climbing. Perhaps the climbing the week before was paying off.

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