Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Dartmoor Classic 2011

Miles cycled this year: 2907.5
In 183 Hours burning 103882 Kcal climbing 123840 ft
Most miles in a week (so far) : 187
Weight: about the same

Five o’clock in the morning is early and is far too early to be getting up and going somewhere. However, the alarm tripped off and I was up, breakfasted and changed into my cycling kit. The bike was already in the car, and the bag packed, all I had to do was move the large number of various sizes and shapes of bottles with water and energy drink, two of which were to come on the bike.

I left the village and saw a tour bus full of some band from Glastonbury, (pronounced brie, not berry) and I joined the motorway and trundled down to Devon.

A very efficient check in and then to start in line for the 7 o’clock start. We moved into the starting pens where 100 riders were allowed to start at 5min intervals. I left in the second group. The start is quite fast, but many riders concerned at the distance and climbing hold back. I don’t, I ride within myself, but quickly move up between the groups the 100 riders I am with have fragmented into in the first few miles. I get in with a group that feels right for speed and stay there.

It is warm but misty. I am using my gloves to clear the lenses of my glasses. It is quite dark, ah no, I have fitted dark lenses. We start climbing and the group fragments. A few climb away, but mostly I leave them, nobody passes me. I climb into more mist and then brake out into sun.

The route continues up and, mostly up it seems. I become aware of a pain over my heart. This is a little worrying. I watch my heart rate and it stays where it belongs, I feel normal. I think I can recall a pain like this in the past, it came and went. I ease back and consider that what is most likely is muscular, the little intercostal muscles between my ribs are complaining about the deep breathing and pulling.

There is a different route into the first feed station at Princetown. We come in from the north which feels hillier. When I pull into the feed, others are coming in on the old route from the south, people I passed sometime ago have caught me by going off course. This is disappointing, but not within my control. I have a chocolate cake, a gel, fill my water bottles, have a pee and its off to Tavistock.

The start of the 40 mile loop uphill, but soon changes to one long descent, great fun, but alarming as whatever we go down now, we will have to reclimb to get back to Princetown. I note the chest pain has gone.

The climb back to Princetown is a killer. By now it is 30 degrees, and the climb just goes on and on. The road stretches on ahead with people on bikes punctuating the shiney ribbon of tarmac. Here and there, groups of cars gather behind cyclists waiting to pass. All there is to do is sit there and grind on. I pass people from time to time and put in a cheery hello or some other form of encouragement. Ok, so I am playing games with them. This isn’t hurting me, is it hurting you, is the subtext. I am passed by 3 or 4 riders, 1 riding a fixed. He has only one gear, he is both mad and talented. I conclude he is only passing me as he can’t go any slower. Slowly the TV mast above Princetown and the feed comes towards me, a short descent and I’m there.

This time it would appear to be a cherry flapjack with yogurt stuff on top. More water, and another pee. Good I must be drinking enough. I am making myself drink at least a litre between every stop, having dehydrated myself on this ride two years ago and upsetting my liver function for the next 6 weeks.

The feed is very busy as the 65 milers are now here. For some this is there first sportive, to do this 65 miles is an achievement. It is a hard and intensive course which requires fitness and determination to finish. Two people drop out from the 65 miles, a couple in matching pink Flo tops, I think they expected a gentle ride, not this workout. Still there are plenty of others sitting round on the grass drinking, eating and chatting to their families who have come to meet them. I am off the clock is still running.

The way back is over the top to the north east. It is flat … ish. It is largely flat with the occasional big drop and rise again. On the first of these descents I touch 48mph before riding hard out of the bottom and getting halfway to the top before, changing into bottom gear and twiddling back up, due to the lack of power in my now drained muscles.

This was always going to be the problem. I haven’t trained for this distance. It was ride for 4hrs then hang on and see how it goes. I knew I could do the distance it was just in what time. Denise reminded me later that I was in two minds as to whether to bother three weeks before.

Another dip coming. Past by a car, van, motorbike and car and were off, accelerating down the hill. I am pacing the cars down, they slow for the bend at the bottom, but that fine. The van is not picking up. Okok with it.

The next descent is odd. On the climb up there is nothing, except for a family sat on a grassy verge eating sandwiches. I push on down the descent passing the 65 milers, then there are cars, moving slowly. Looking ahead it is a group of maybe 5 of the 65 milers, single file, but going slow. Clear section and I am off again passing cars then the bikes. This is a great descent winding through trees, and having put the effort in to get up, braking seems just plain wrong. More cars, this time stopped. There is a bus ahead, right hand side and overtaking, the cars are off and I slot in. We continue to descend on the brakes. How frustrating, but whilst I am happy to descend at speed, I like to see where I am going and don’t like to take (too many) risks, especially with oncoming cars.

Onto the relative flat of the last valley, the bus is off and passes more cyclists, I try to close the gap but can’t and watch them ride away slowly. I ride on trying to keep a high pace, but every rise takes more out of me. A group come up and I get on, one more hard hill, and the group fractures, I am in the middle of them as we crest the hill, and I now commit all that I have left to get back.

I ride back over the finish line on my own, but applauded by people I don’t know. I thank them. Bike in the racks and I look at the queue to get my time and ‘free’ gifts. I go off in search of a bacon butty. I had encouraged a rider 20 miles back with the thought of a bacon butty. This is a much shorter queue and I return unabashed to the time queue, waiting in line is so much easier when there is something to munch.

Finish 210 out of 1120 who completed the 104m ride.

1 comment:

  1. I've been one of those car drivers queing up behind the riders up the hill!! Even then I fancied giving it a go despite know how steep some of those climbs can be. Maybe next year......