Saturday, 24 August 2013

Blissford Hill Smashed!

I completed the The New Forest Rattler last weekend, which includes the 25% Blissford Hill aka The Wall!

Apparently registration starts at 7:00 with the first groups of riders setting off at 8:30. So when Haribo Joe and myself arrived just just after 8 we were surprised to be "stuck" behind a load of cyclist. So we're not sure when they set riders off.

Anyway we went through the simple registration process, deciding to miss out on the free porridge, instead opting for the festival experience of the dreaded portaloo. It wasn't to bad, but I should have just waited and used a bush.

So we lined up, hoping the slight drizzle was going to pass, planning on beating our time of 3:38 for the 47 miles.

I suddenly realised that my Strava wasn't working and stupidly crossed the start line, therefore starting my official time. I should have held back and gone with the next bunch, rather than setting off and wasting valuable minutes at the side of the road getting it sorted.

Eventually we got going.

The course is described as being fairly flat, which it is, once you get up to the flat bit. To start with there are a few little hills to wake up your legs.

It is a nice route, mostly on pretty quiet roads. But you need to watch out for the wildlife, horses, donkeys, cows and this year pigs.

Once again there was a well stocked feed station, where I tried to get my monies worth of jelly beans and flapjack.

We were setting a good pace, taking it in turns to lead, even passing other cyclists, which is always nice. You can see on my strava that it was PR's all the way for the first half.

Then things turned sour for Joe.

The major surgery earlier in the year and resulting lack of time in the saddle caught up with him and he started to struggle.
The course didn't help. It had been fairly sheltered, but then goes across the top of the New Forest, which is open, and there was an eternal head wind.
No cyclist likes a head wind, especially larger framed gentleman like Joe and myself. We're not the most aerodynamic shape on a bike.
A road, with a slight downwards gradient, that we should have cruised along, suddenly became soul destroying. And it just kept on going.

To make matters even worse, Joe's chain came off.

Eventually we made it out of the New Forest and got some shelter from the wind and started going down hill.

But what goes down must go up.

Blissford Hell!

It's only a very short hill, but at 25% and after 42 miles it is nasty.

But I made it up in one go this year.

After that it is quite an easy couple of miles to the finish, just dodging more wildlife.
We snuck in just under 4 hours.

At the end you get a certificate and a food voucher for the bbq, but there was a massive queue so we just grabbed a couple of bananas and drove home.

It is a great sportive, really well organised, just as good as the Wiggle events, but on a smaller more relaxed scale.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Hills and Head Winds.....

This basically how it felt all the way around the Mega Meon Sportive

Haribo Joe, my brother Pete and I arrived at South Downs College just before 8. It was very well organised, quick check in etc. We even got a High5 energy pack worth £12, not bad when the entry fee was £18.

We then set off in a group of about 20 riders for 55 miles up and over the South Downs.

Almost straight away we were onto nice quiet roads which was pretty much how it stayed for most of the route.

It started off fairly flat to start with, but once past Hambledon you've got the long, steady climb up to the Bat and Ball pub. This is the start of the South Downs, so no more flat roads.

The feed stop was at East Meon at a church hall. Well stocked as you would expect, I was asked to move away from the jelly beans.

The feed station is well placed, just before one of the hardest climbs up to the top of Old Winchester Hill.
But the views made it worthwhile.

We were all working well as a team, every now and then letting Pete have a rest at the back.
We were also calling out if junctions were clear or not, apart from one junction where I was sure I heard Joe call out "Clear........sort of"
Luckily I checked for myself and saw the massive Land Rover bearing down on me. It was the first time I've had to unclip in an emergency.

Just after we saw the 10km to go marker I heard a strange noise but everything felt ok. A few minutes later I heard a tapping noise so stopped to check and realised I had broken a spoke.

This can be game over.

Luckily Pete managed to do enough for me to get me going. So I shot off more concerned about getting to the finish line than my team mates.

As I was steaming up to the top of Portsdown Hill my brother just glided along side me, had a quick chat and then reminded me that he is my older brother by powering away from me up the hill.

About a mile from the finish we turned left and for the first time got a tail wind.

We finished in 5 hours 18, a bit slow but we finished and enjoyed it.