Monday, 10 October 2011

Cymru Etape - Finished it !

So Sunday 9th October arrived - the day of the Cymru Etape. My first Sportive.

Arrived fairly early at 7 am or so and parked up. By the time I'd kitted up and got to the start/finish line it was around 0740. Unfortunately the start time was delayed slightly and I probably didn't cross the start timing point until around 0820. Slightly surprised there weren't any "incidents" in the first few miles since there were a lot of riders and some of the roads had mud on them.

I knew the first 25 miles were going to be tough - got up the Garth OK, and then World's End. Despite previously advising people to carry the bike over the ford, everyone seemed to be riding across it OK, so just stayed to the right and rode over it steadily and was OK. The field was starting to thin out quite a bit by the time I got to the top of World's End. On the descent towards Minera there was a hold up for 10 minutes or so (apparently someone didn't make the tight turn at the bottom).

I had thought that once over the Garth and World's End it would get easier. Unfortunately I didn't count on us riding into a strong headwind most of the way from the Moors Inn Pub down to Corwen.
Got to the first feed station at the Moors Inn Pub fairly early and got something to eat and refilled my water bottle. The stretch down to Corwen was a sequence of narrow roads, short sharp hills, all against a strong wind. I was with a group which went off course and I think we did an extra 2 or 3 miles (+ the group stopped a couple of times for about 5 mins each, I think to try and check where we were). We finally got on the route just by the 40 mile marker although my computer said we'd done 43 miles. The 2nd feed stop was at Carrog Village Hall and by the time I got there they had run out of water but fortunately still had quite a bit left and a spare lucozade sport in my back pocket. Quite a few people relying on filling up their water bottles were pretty upset. 

The climb over Carrog mountain was tough with a ferocious wind right at the top. Had a slight tumble when I went too fast into a corner, and ended up in the grass - no damage done apart from looking silly. However on the way down a guy about 100 m in front of me on a very fast straight descent caught the right hand grass and crashed spectactularly into a fence. Just managed to avoid him and by the time I'd stopped (to see if he was OK) I was a further 100 m down the road. Luckily a motorcycle marshall was just behind us and he stopped to help the guy out - hope he was OK.

By the time I got to the bottom of the Horseshoe Pass I was pretty much done in. Went up it pretty slowly on a 39/28 all the way - the wind was against us all the way up the climb until we got to the Horseshoe itself. At the feed station at the Ponderosa Cafe again there was no water but managed to get some food.

Coming off the Horseshoe Pass they diverted us away from the Shelf (which was the last climb we were supposed to do) and fortunately on the way back to Wrexham the wind was behind us, and it was mainly flat or downhill (apart from one last climb about 10 miles from the finish which no one was expecting).

Passed the finish line at around 4.20 pm, so more or less did 8 hours - not a great time, but the wind slowed me down quite a bit (+ if you count the time I was delayed or stopped at feed stops, my actual cycling time was probably 7 hrs 30 mins). The shortened route we did was probably 88-90 miles, so this makes my average speed (when cycling) around 12 miles an hour - I'm blaming this slow speed on the wind (that's my excuse anyhow) - at least I didn't get caught by the broom wagon :)

Congratulations to all those who finished the event - it's fair to say there were quite a few organisational teething problems, and towards the end it did not look like a closed road event, but for my first Sportive I quite enjoyed it (in a masochistic sort of way). Next one I enter is bound to be easier than this one. 

Very pleased to have finished - general consensus was that this was one tough event !! Not seen the final results yet but wouldn't be surprised if there were a lot of DNF's.

Couldn't believe how many punctures there were - pleased I had on my Armadillo All Condition 700 x 25C tyres - only had one puncture on these in 5 years, although they are probably not the fastest tyre you can get. Also in the last 20 miles I have never seen so many people on the side of the road stretching to try and sort out cramp in their legs.

1 comment:

  1. well done. if you think your time was bad you could always blame wiggle.!!