On Sunday, Chris and I took part in the UK Cycling Events/Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive. The event consisted of 3 different distances; the short distance (40 miles), the standard distance (70 miles) and the Epic (102 miles). Having only ever cycled 35 miles in one go before, I opted for the Standard distance.
Each event took riders around a scenic tour of the New Forest.
The day started early with a pre-6am alarm call. This wasn’t particularly welcome but with registration at 7:30am and with collecting Chris avec bike on the way, an early start was needed.
The local rag, the Daily Echo, has been spreading a news story about local protesters and saboteurs removing signs and spreading mud across roads on the route. There had also been reported issues with tacks being put across roads to puncture the tyres of cyclists. Oh happy days.
We arrived at Brockenhurst Showground at about 7am, registered and grabbed a free cup of coffee. We then headed back to the car to prepare the bikes. Although the forecast showed temperatures would get into the late teens (18/19 degrees C), the day started off cool. I opted for cycling tights, a short sleeve jersey and then a cycling fleece jersey over the top. Long sleeve gloves were also the order of the day.
Before we headed for the start area, we visited the rather ripe-smelling portaloos. As the event was being held over two days, the smell from the previous day’s use was a little over-powering. :-S
At about 8:15am, we crossed the start line and headed out on our 70-mile adventure.
The Daily Echo includes a few photos of cyclists riding 2 or 3 abreast (to add fuel to the fire of the minority of ‘protesters’ stating that the event was a safety hazard. It’s true that there was a little congestion on the road north as we left the Showground. However, it was before 8:30am on a Sunday morning and therefore hardly peak traffic time. With 1500-ish cyclists of differing abilities over different routes, it really wasn’t long until you reached points of the route where there wasn’t another cyclist in sight.
The route was great and took us through some very scenic areas. It had hills and flats. Some great views along the way.
By about 60km, I was starting to struggle. That didn’t bode well for the next 50+ km!! The saddle felt like a razor-blade and I was quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, after an incline, we stopped for a bite to eat and a few minutes rest. Having experienced cramps during previous cycle rides, I kept well hydrated with water with High 5 Zeros.
We rolled through many more miles!! At no point did we see any protesters, no signs of sabotage, no animals looking distressed and no damage to flora or fauna. We didn’t see any Daily Echo reporters either (I suspect their photos were all from the event’s official photographers!)
With about 30 or so km to go, Chris’s rear tyre was showing signs of a slow puncture or leaky valve. This meant 3 or so stops to pump it up before the finish. Each stop provided a welcome rest!
In the last 10km, both of my legs were beginning up cramp. I was down to the dregs of any fluid I’d brought with me and nothing I did helped ease the cramps. I just had to peddle through. I chose an easy gear and tried to spin through the pain. Those last 10km seemed to go on forever but before long we were turning back into the Showground onto the gravel path to the start/finish gantry. Chris dropped back and I crossed the line first. We had taken about 5 hours and 18 minutes but our moving time was almost 30 minutes quicker.
Overall, a great, but challenging, day. it was made much easier by having a cycling buddy along the way. Many thanks Chris.
No signs of any of the issues that the local rag had spent 3 days regurgitating. Everyone appeared to enjoy the event. I certainly did (although maybe more so in hindsight!)