So, it’s been a little while since I have posted. Work, life and riding my bicycle has got in the way unfortunately!
On the weekend just gone though I did the Evans Cycles Leeds RideIT! sportive that was based out of Harewood. (Route below)
The run up to the event had been a bit weird…on the one hand the cycling was going well and I think I benefited from having an early season goal to aim at as it made the grind of winter riding more bearable when I knew I would have a good size ride with a good amount of climbing. This has spurred me on to up the mileage and do some mid week rides under the bright lights of Harrogate! These have been 20 – 25 miles with around 2000ft of climbing…Harrogate is hillier than it seems! Anyway, the training was not the weird situation it was the weather…In the week up to the event there was heavy snow and the event had a changed venue and was very close to be called off.
I’m glad it wasn’t!
On the morning of the event it had frozen but wasn’t snowing so the usual ritual was resumed. Up 2 hours before I need to be at the venue and then breakfast (scrambled eggs and then some cereal followed by a coffee). Then packed the car and was out of the house for 7.30am to arrive at the venue for just before 8.00am. When arriving I had the mundane sign on and wait for the start. Sadly the Clio was not overly warm.
I set off in the second group just after 8.45am. The group was quite large and it was a downhill start. Bearing in mind what the route profile was like I decided to take it easy on the start! Sometimes the adrenaline gets the better of me and I go hard from the start!
I like my cycling hilly so this suited me but there was a few climbs I hadn’t ridden before. I normally like to recce the climbs before hand but didn’t have time before the event. The climb I was worried about was out of Appletreewick which is steep to begin with then exposed on to the moor just before Greenhow Village. As this climb was over halfway in the importance of pacing was not lost on me.
The first third of the event was on roads I knew so I knew exactly how much effort to put in. It was good starting in a large group as for the first 20 miles I managed to stay within a couple of groups which helped and made the miles pass quickly. It was particularly interesting watching others in the group as they would bomb on when on the flat then appear to try and recover on the hills. This seemed foreign to me and a little bit bizarre.
Approaching mile 20 ish (around Norwood village light snow began. Brilliant I thought. Head down, gloves off and carry on. Spring Classics style.
The first real climb started at Low Lane, just off Darley Road. This was a climb I had never cycled before. This was quite a nice steady climb to start with and then ramps up to around 16%. This broke the already splintered group I was with and my only way up the hills is to get nice and comfy and try and find a rhythm. Then stick to it. I dropped the people that were in my small group on this climb and would only reacquaint myself with them at the first feed station.
The snow then turned to hail when we reached the top of the climb going over Greenhow Moor to Thruscross. Excellent.
At the first feed stop, I thought about stopping but decided I felt good so would not. This was a big mistake (more later). Although, I did bunch up with a couple of guys who had been in the group prior to the climb.
The legs were feeling good still around 33 miles in so…onwards and upwards!
After the feed stop, we had the roller-coaster-esq run down to Thruscross reservoir, on the other side we had the climb over Kex Gill Moor which would then lead us on to the A59 and a long descent to Bolton Abbey. The climb on Kex Gill was a nice steady climb, there was still a bit of ice on the top so I had to be careful. However, with that safely negotiated I thought that I would have the enjoyable descent to Bolton Abbey with no problem at all.
How wrong I was…
It will be worth saying now, if you are of a nervous disposition skip the next three paragraphs…
It is worth mentioning that I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). This is normally not too bad. However, when cresting Kex Gill I felt a rumble which was not good. Up until this point all I had had to eat was a banana as I am conscious that too many gels can facilitate, what I have christened as, “Gelly Belly”.
So flying down the A59 was not much fun at all. Imagine Thibaut Pinot in the TDF when he dived into some parked up Camper Vans for a “comfort break”. Unfortunately I did not have this luxury! Luckily, I knew we were passing the Devonshire Arms so I had a quick pit stop there and then onwards and upwards!
After the unscheduled pit stop the next climb was out through Appletreewick (below)
As you can see Appletreewick is 6.5% for 2.0km. As I had never ridden this before I was going in a bit blind and because of earlier stomach problems I had eaten 1 banana in around 2.5 hours of riding. As I was climbing the first section I began to feel the dreaded “bonk”. I frantically grabbed one gel and a piece of flapjack and guzzle this along with water to wash it down with. I was now quite aware that I was playing calorie catch up which is never a good position to be in.
The climb was quite enjoyable, by the foot of it I was very much on my own however; there were dots on the horizon. I like being in the position where I have targets to aim for. Climbing up and out of Appletreewick and onto New Road to join the Grassington/Greenhow Road greeted me with simply stunning views! The Dales (or Fells where I’m from) had a dusting of snow and these views really took the feeling of pain out of the legs. As I climbed up to the main road I picked off a number of other riders and dropped them which felt good. I had a new feeling of energy now the food had kicked in.
As I cycled up to Greenhow the main road was sandwiched together by snow on the verges and all over the the fells. It really was a beautiful site. At the same time though, I have never been happier to get to Greenhow and begin the descent to the final feed station. The legs were finally wanting a rest and what better place to rest them than going down Duck Street.
As I knew I was now on the home stretch and they were known roads for me I began to relax. As I approached the feed station I suddenly got the munchies…Thankfully there was plenty of flapjack and jelly babies to give me a sugar rush! For the home stretch the bidon got a refill and off I went.
Stopping is one of the worst thing I can do as the legs do go a bit stiff so the first mile or so were getting the circulation going again. I needed the legs to get going as we had the “Blubberhouses Wall” upon on us very soon. It starts at 10% and kicks to about 15%. Once I was over this I knew I would be home and dry!
Cresting that we had the run through Timble and over the reservoirs, then up and over Norwood and down the steep side. After that it was flat until the bottom of Harewood Hill.
Climbing Harewood Hill was a “put it in a low gear and spin” but I felt like I had something to give so cranked it up and gave it one last push.
Crossing the line I finished in 4 hours 46mins with an average speed of 16mph. The ride had 6800ft of climbing. I was very happy the time and the ride in general especially as I was on the Scott Speedster which is my aluminium winter bike.
The winter bike will now be going away as long as the snow and ice stays away and I will hopefully be getting the summer bike out!
Next blog post will hopefully be pretty soon as I want to write about the Tiagra 4700 groupset I’ve been using all winter and also further training posts!
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!