Wanted to support a work friend with his first 100 mile mile sportive, so the New Forest event was selected as it’s close to his home. I had no idea what the ride would be like aside from the fact that it wasn’t a major leg killer of a ride. My GPS showed something like 1500 metres ascent, so nothing too major in the way of climbs.
A punture in the first few miles made us both a little nervous, as we stood by the side of the road fixing the puncture there must have been 50+ riders passing us. With the puncture fixed we picked up the pace to try and make back a little time, after a few miles of pushing it we decided to slow a little, we had many limes ahead and were in danger of digging way too deep into the energy reserves.
The ride could be summed up with a few words:
Roadkill – A surprising amount of dead animals on the road from badgers and squirrels to deer.
Cattle Grids – I had never been to the New Forest and was totally unaware of the number of critters roaming loose. The grids were to be respected, any harsh breaking or attempts to corner would have resulted in slipping across the shiny metal surface.
Roadkill to be – A close calls on many ponies and very close call on a baby pig. I have never seen ponies slowly wandering around on a road before, I had lost count after the first 20 miles.
The ride coincided with an Audax event, we must have overtaken one group at least 3 times. The riders were slow and occupying a lot of the road, trying to overtake meant straying on to the other side of the road.
We clocked a finishing time of 6:37, given the puncture time and stop at the feed station to top up the tyres I think we could have shaved another 10 to 15 minutes of the time. I enjoyed the day out despite the annoyances, it was a good experience but I don’t think I will ride this event again as I thought the route was a little dangerous to attempt a fast finishing time. The food wasn’t properly though out either, there were bowls of nuts and sweets that I wasn’t even going to think about eating. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to figure out that perhaps some of the riders would stop for a leak at the roadside.
I enjoyed seeing the satisfaction on my friends face as he crossed the line. A pleasant pub lunch with a beer to wash it down afterwards was a well deserved treat to finish the day off. This was my last sportive of 2009, only 2 in my first year. The planning for next year is underway I have entered the Mad March Hare Sportive in March 2010 and aim to ride at least another 3 during the remainder of the year. 2010 should see my entrance to road racing, a little research is needed on the type of events. This winter needs to be one of plenty of training ride coupled with some weight loss to make the goals for next season feasible.