In Which I Do My First Ever Sportive
If you read my last couple of posts, you might remember that I’d forgotten I’d entered this. Also in my last blog entry I put that it was 30 mile cycle, as I thought it was 50km. Turns out the distance was 55km (said so on the entry bit and on the emails) which made it around 34 miles. Ah well.
The Morning Of The Ride
I was woken up by the sound of rain. Which is quite tough, as I sleep through anything normally. Peeked round the curtains and saw it was proper throwing down. Rivers running down the street kinda rain. I switched on my phone and a text came through.
I thought seriously about not doing it for a few seconds then sent this reply:
My original plan was to have a slow, sunny cycle into Leeds (12 mile-ish) and then do the Sportive and get the train home afterwards. No way I was cycling in this so I rung for a taxi. My usual taxi firm said that there weren’t any minibus taxis available til after ten (needed a big ‘un to get my bike there) so I said I’d try another firm. Other taxi company said they had one and that he’d been shuttling bikes there all morning. After I hung up my regular taxi people rang back saying that she was trying to get someone to start early for me! I, guiltily, said I’d got it sorted but thanked her muchly. Good service! So if you’re ever in Bradford needed a taxi, phone Idleways. I should approach them for a sponsorship deal!
Anyway, other taxi arrived and obviously I wasn’t ready, so I started running round gathering up everything I might need. With a good luck wish ‘n’ kiss from Sarah, I was off.
The Journey And Arrival
It never fails to fill me with confidence when a taxi driver asks you for directions. If you get paid to do a job you shouldn’t really asked the pay-er to do half your job for you, surely? I work as a security guard and if a customer asked me how to get somewhere, I wouldn’t say “which way do YOU think you should go?” No. If I didn’t know, I’d ask a colleague, not the person themselves!
Anyway, as it happens I did know the way because I’d been studying the route there thinking I’d bike it. I told him the way and he said “Nah, I know a different way.”
WHY CHUFFING ASK THEN?!
Nevermind. Got to Roundhay Park in Leeds (where it was starting and finishing) and after being robbed of £28 for the trip, I wandered down to where all the cyclists were.
(I was gonna take a picture but it was still pouring down so didn’t. Imagine, if you will, a load of wet cyclists. There ya go.)
The rear brake on my bike seemed a bit loose so I took advantage of the mechanical tent. A French mechanic had a look and told me I was greasy. (A Frenchman calling someone else gre… No, I’m not doing that joke. Don’t wanna offend!) I said ‘what?’ which he understood as ‘wut?’ and explained there was grease on the brake pad.
“Ah,” I said, “probably from when I used my shusher bit on the hose pipe to clean it.”
He looked at me, frenchly I might add, and said “wut?”
Which is how I found myself, at 9:30 on a Sunday morning in a park miles from home, soaking wet, miming a hose pipe action whilst going ‘shhhhhhhh’ to a Frenchman I’d never met.
He mimed to me the action for if I needed to pump my tyres (at least I HOPE that’s what he was miming!!) and I said the French word for ‘no.’
He shrugged, I went away.
Ironman Tony, along with his brother John and Ironman Martin were doing the big boy course, 142km. Luckily that one and the medium course (109km) had sold out when I entered so I was doing 55km. This meant they set off at like 7:30 or something whereas my start time was 10:30. Due to the rain, the organisers said you could start as soon as you were ready so I found myself lined up just before ten am.
A safety brief and a mention of which signs to follow (blue) and we were off. In an uphill direction.
I never know if it’s a good idea to check out the route before an event so didn’t bother. Let what hills there are come at you and worry about them when you’re at the bottom looking up.
God I wish I’d know how many hills there’d be…
I was out of the saddle as much as in it I think, and I told myself to look at my tomtom watch as little as possible. Do it all by feel without worrying about how far there’s still to go. Plenty of superfit people flying up and down the hills on bikes worth more than a year of my mortgage, but also plenty of average people like me, some even on mountain bikes, and one who I’m sure had one of those bikes that has a little motor for going uphill.
I found myself being overtaken on the flat, but I was overtaking a few on the hills and FLYING by most on the downhills. I think because I’ve never come off my back, I’ve no fear yet OF coming off my bike. I went like this: WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!
A good bit of time had gone by (I thought) and was chuffed to see 10km already done. Ignore the 45 still to go. After an hour I was averaging 14mph but wasn’t confident of that lasting.
I planned on having an energy gel after an hour but forgot and had it after an hour and 20 mins. Before long is reached the food station at halfway in Otley, and everyone had stopped to get some refreshments. I had enough with me, but took two energy bars and two energy gels to use next week at Leeds 1/2 marathon (says the security guard.) They’re like £1.50 each those things!
Out of Otley was a loooooonnnnngggg slow drag, followed by a massive, fast, downhill segment. I thought we must be nearly done, but no. Still like 10 miles left.
Then I saw this.
A BIG chuffing hill. The photo doesn’t do it justice as it carried on and carried on, getting steeper and steeper. Would I let it beat me? Would I let this hill make me get off and push, after battling up all the others?? WOULD I GIVE IN AND WALK?!?!
Yeah, of course I would. It was massive! I only saw one person cycle up it! Everyone else got off and pushed. No dishonour there. (If you look at the elevation chart below, it’s the one that starts at 25 mile.)
After that, the rest was steady all the way to the end. They had signs up for 10km to the end, where I saw the guy who I think had a motor pushing his bike (must’ve run out of juice) and then the signs counted down from 5k, 4k, 3k, 2k, 1k, last bit, finish lined with crowds cheering, shouting, banging the boards at the side and then done. I figured with the weather I’d do about 3 hours. I finished in 2:56.
I took some coconut water (dunno why, don’t like it) and a bottle of normal water, then a girl was trying to put a medal on me. I told her not to worry as I have a big head and she said ‘yeah you do’ but she managed.
(The medal is a bike wheel, and it SPINS!)
The Journey Home
Roundhay Park to Leeds was about 3 mile, mostly downhill, so decided to cycle down to the train station. When I got to the station I said ‘sod it’ and got on the canal path and headed for home. Took it steady, apart from when there was a couple of morons on mini motorbikes who weren’t giving a shit about people out walking with kids and dogs (they both looked to be in their 20s) and so I went hell for leather as I overtook them (at 30mph.) Would’ve loved to have seen their faces!
Turned off the canal, main road to side street to main road to side street to cul de sac which is where my house lives. Total miles for the day: 50. (81km.)
Showered, then went to the supermarket and spent £27 on beer and junk food. It was great!
Today, I noticed a post on Facebook so I ended up doing this:
Leeds 1/2 marathon, Sunday 10th May
Please feel free to look and sponsor!!
Nike+ : Marc Hemingway
Strava: Marc Hemingway