Entered the Circuit of the Cotswolds sportive in June 2009 (http://www.circuitofthecotswolds.org), as I read in a magazine recently, I had to recalibrate my hardometer. This was my first 100 mile sportive, or any sportive for that matter. I rode with G, a friend from work. We seem to work well together and are similar in ability. We suffered from a few mechanical glitches but other than that no major events. The first feeding station was bypassed, seemed like a good plan as we both had plenty of food and drink to last until the 50 mile station.
The first 50 miles seemed fairly uneventful, energy levels not depleted too much we both felt like we had enough fuel in the tank for us to last the full distance. I knew there was a big hill coming up, the organisers had made no secret of the 25% Cleeve Hill. I was totally unprepared for this hill, I think I managed to snail my way up the first third until I was a broken man. Even the walk to the top of the hill was unpleasant. I saw a few people overtake me on my hike but none of them managed to ride up to the crest of the hill. I think my weight was 90 Kilos at the time, at 170cm this puts me at over 33% fat, not exactly prime climbing physique.
The next hill came shortly after, I was still suffering from digging deep on Cleeve Hill and didn’t fair well. I had a another short walk after hitting a brick wall on the 20% climb. This was my lowest point in the ride, I spent the next 5 miles trying to recover and gain some moral to finish the rest of the course. Luckily G wasn’t feeling quite as depleted as I was so I had a welcome tow until I felt vaguely human again.
The next 40 miles were a slog, every hill seemed to be twice as steep. Looking ahead sometimes filled me with dread, I wasn’t sure I could handle any more tough climbs. Nothing really challenging hit us so we were able to plough our way through the smaller hills that stood between us and the finish line. Our legs were feeling heavy with the last 20 miles or so. We didn’t charge back to the finish but we did manage to maintain a reasonable pace, the ride time was 6:53 with an average of 14.9 mph. The event was chip timed, with all the stops for mechanical problems, food and my short walks the event time was 7:21.
Crossing the finish line was I was full of relief and emotion. We had survived a gruelling day in the saddle, faced nearly 3,000 metres of climbing and still managed a smile at the end. I would recommend the event and I plan to ride it in 2010, but this time I aim to be a little more prepared for the ride. Hopefully I can continue with the weight loss, my weight has been hovering around 83 Kilos for a few months now. With a little more dedication over the winter I would like to be 80 Kilos before the start of 2010. The aim is to hit the next sportive season better prepared than this year, hopefully I can improve on the time for the Circuit of the Cotswolds and move from a bronze to silver or maybe even gold award.