Monday, 1 July 2013

Dartmoor Classic - Medio - 2013

After years of riding the long route, I decided to have ago at the shorter route. It is on the same roads at the longer ride, that one just has a 40 mile loop added in around half way.

I had started back last year when I entered determined to get a gold time, but as the day drew near, a lack of base mileage seemed lacking. I had ridden the distance, and done well in the audaxes, but it hadn't been consistent. Looking back I am still not sure why.

Still there was a later start to look forward to and a new start/finish venue. I drove down on the motorway, occasionally past by the odd car with a bike inside, hung on or on the roof of it. There was a queue of about 300 yards just before my destination of the race course at Newton Abbott. Mid Devon CC were at the normal level of great organisation and I was quickly parked in the middle of the race course, on my bike and collecting my number and bits and pieces.

A touch of rain in the air, and I was queueing for the start. I overheard that 1000 riders were already away in the first hour. It was 8am, and the first start time for the shorter course was on us. We filled our pen and received the safety briefing: It was to be showery, very windy, be careful of cattle grids (ride them like this) and don't pee where anyone can see you (basically), & we were off.

The roads of Newton Abbott were quiet, but we were marshaled through the town at every junction. I always say 'thank you', why do so many other riders just ride past these volunteers who will be out there for hours looking after there safety? No? Me neither.

The route basically goes flattish, up onto Dartmoor from Bovey Tracey, then down to somewhere near Ashburton, then back up to Princeton. Yes I have a map, but I really don't have much idea on the day where I am.

I knew it was windy, and as we turned west into the wind towards and up to Princeton the reality of this bit. It was a blocking headwind, on a dead straight, uphill road with a groups of cyclists in a line moving into it. I was riding alone. I had done all the way. I was quicker than most, but couldn't quite hang on to those who past me. Only one way, grind it out, it won't last forever.

We finally turned left at the top of the hill, and turned downhill to Princetown village hall. Quickly in rack the bike, bottle of drink a brownie and find Alex Pewsey who I only know via Twitter @Cycle_LEJOG  A brief handshake and off. It has taken me 2h43mins or so to get here, and I have seen from previous years I need to get to the feed in 2h30m. I think gold may have gone, but there is a mighty tailwind now, so I am off to chase my tail.

The weather remains cloudy with showers, but the tailwind is great, but I am slower up the hills as I want on my way to Moretonhempstead. I am passed by the world champion, but it turns out that he isn't really Gilbert, but is a fraud. I feel quite strongly about this. Yes, trade team kit is up for grabs, like supporting your football team, but don't wear a jersey that you should only wear by right, having won it in competition. Anyway fraud or not, I can't hold onto the rear wheel of even the fraud world champion as the ground begins to rise.

Mortonhempstead, and a diversion round and back into the town centre from the North, and another descent. I am flying on the descents all day. They are wet, and I am passing rider after rider holding their brakes. I break hard before the corners, take them steady and accelerate away again. All to quick it is the last climb, and again I am out climbed. My back is beginning to lock. I have a little muscle somewhere in the base of my spine, inside my pelvis which I injured lifting too much shopping back at the beginning of May. It has slowly been getting better, the physio couldn't get to it, but said it would sort itself. Today, now, it had decided that it wasn't ready to be better. It hurt, my it hurt. The hill climbing and riding into the wind had woken it, and no amount of stretching was going to persuade it to let go.

I descended through the woods on the last descent, and stopped at the turn onto the valley road. and stretched again. I rode on. It was fine at around 18mph on a road I should have done a gradient assisted 22. My back was fine and then would spasm, I would ease off. Riders came past, I sat on. My back didn't tighten, but there was no power left for inclines, I worked with the group but lost them on the last 'hill' a relative mound, I lost my group.

Finally a short ride through the back streets on Newton Abbot, and into the racecourse to be clapped home by people I do not know. All around the route there were groups of people stood cheering on all comers, some had cow bells, all were cheery: except for one young girl who was fed and had had enough waiting for Daddy to be cheered. The home made banner would have urged him to excel I am sure. I asked many on the hills for a push, but no one took up my request.

I racked my bike and collected my time. It confirmed I had missed gold by 13mins or so. Despite my back pain I had come back in a gold time, it was the first leg where I lost it. But hunger is the drive now, pausing only to collect my goodie back: a t shirt, water bottle, inner tube etc, I look for food. The SIS tent offer a recovery drink. I take mine in the unopened sachet, and head for the cafe and the bacon roll promised. I want solid savoury food not another drinck. I find it, a hot pork roll. A bread roll, with stuffing, apple sauce and hot roast pork. I sit and eat it in a form of perpetual motion.

Recovering my bike, I head for the car and head for home. Dissapointed that I missed gold, but ccertain I had sufficient reasons to 'justify' my failure with the other weekend warriors and sure that I would improve next year.

I give this Sportive 5 out of 5. That is not to say that it is perfect, but it is hard to critise, and I am sure they the organiser continues to look to improve. Oh and the money raised goes to youth cycling in Devon, not into a business to help the bottom line.

The link to my GPX file is

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