Monday, 1 July 2013

Ups and Downs

The infamous 'Long One' super sportive was precisely that: Quite long. At 81 miles it is something of an achievement for my legs, which are doing remarkably well (although, Bruno of Calm Blue Room - a crucial component of my post ride support team - was a tad concerned about my hamstrings this morning). I must master the art of effective stretching, and soon...

It took me rather longer than I'd anticipated to arrive at the Start and I wasn't made to feel especially welcome by the by-then-rather-stressed-out event organisers. Consequently, I started in the last batch of cyclists to leave Fontwell Racecourse on Saturday morning - we were all still adjusting our shoes and helmets as we left headed for where we knew not (but could have guessed). I was determined to make up for lost time, and not come in last. 

I did well. I was pleased to ride alongside a man whose legs told me that this was more than a mere hobby. He, and his bike, knew the roads. He wisely pointed out after I'd foolishly exerted myself up the first proper incline that, unless we were ascending or descending, we'd be lost. He wasn't wrong...

Quality climbing practice it was. And that's what counts. I grit my teeth, and dug deep. My mantra came in useful: 'Light legs, Strong legs...' it helps with the all important breathing, which together with stamina and sheer determination, somehow got me up even the worst of them. That and simply remembering the date.

See 29th June bears something of a powerful association. Saturday was the anniversary of Charlotte completing 8 hideous rounds of chemo. I remember what her body went through last year, in its bid to show the alien the door. Quitting on any one of those hills simply wasn't an option.

I was dressed for the occasion. Kitted out in pink from head to toe, including my handlebars (which this time didn't have to get coated in oil as my chain behaved itself - either that, or I'm getting more adept at changing gear!) 

So I have apparently completed one of the hardest sportives in the UK.  In retrospect, I have clocked up some seriously respectable experience. I reckon some of the hills might even be in young Sam's book entitled something like '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs: an insider's guide to Britain's hardest hills'. I'm not sure whether Telegraph or Tower (Uppark) Hills might more accurately be referred to as mountains, the chalky Butser Hill certainly had us busting a gut up to the highest point in the South Downs... Towards the end of the ride, and well beyond the third feed station the Goodwood Hill almost had me. 

But that's all part of the 'fun'...  

The area (whilst hilly) is something of a roadie's heaven. The route was phenomenal - England at its best. And even better when the sun came out.  I'm edging ever closer to the main event.  Sunday August 4th is just a month away this week.  From hereon, my legs have got their work cut out.  (Just a heads up for you, Bruno!)

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