Guess What? It was raining!
Event Seven took place one day after Event Six – trying to catch up on events after my week in Chamonix. I managed to pick the worse weather weekend of the year to cram in two events.
There was some doubt if my ride would even take place as the weather was so bad the day before (parkrun day). The rain had flooded many roads and the wind was crazy – we had a tree down at my house – right on our phone line.
Evan Cycles who ran the event were good with updates on Facebook and at 9.42pm on the Saturday confirmed that it would go ahead, but to check first thing just in case!
I was up at 5.30am, and out of the house by 6.15am. The rain was intense and it took me over an hour and a half to get there. Very slow on the motorway despite little traffic. Bristol was lovely and quiet at that time in the morning 🙂
I parked up and registered in a big sports centre where HQ had been set up. I only saw about three women ! In fact there weren’t that many people at all. In total 310 riders turned up out of 400 that had signed up (I asked!) which I thought was a good turn out. In the summer most sportives have a 1000 plus riders.
After signing in I dashed back to car, the rain was only drizzle at this point thank goodness, and got my gear on and ate my porridge 🙂 As I sat there, the hail started – hammering on the windscreen. I decided to stay there a little longer and looking around so was everyone else.
At 8.45 it stopped and everyone got out of their cars and headed towards the start. I was hoping to see my friend Jo who was also doing it, but must have missed her. I would be on my own (my lovely friend Sarah had planned to come, but the awful weather and timing issues, meant she couldn’t make it – a three hour drive from Kent would have been a nightmare for her).
I set off in a little group of about ten people after the pre race briefing …. actually not a race we were told, there are no winners and results are not shown in time order. After about 4km we turned a corner and went straight up the first big hill – there were three signature hills on the ride. I wasn’t expecting it so early, really should have checked the route lol! But actually I was glad to warm up. There were quite few people walking already, not much fun in the rain. All the distances, even the 15km “fun ride” went up this great big hill!!! I managed to catch up with a group of lads that had whizzed off from the start, but they all stopped at the top for a rest – there was no way I was stopping and getting soaked, so I was on my own again. Then the hail came down….. again. It was painful.
The next couple of hours were very wet. Funnily enough there was blue sky and sunshine too, but even though I could see it, I was still being rained on – nice rainbows though 🙂 It would have been nice to get some pictures but I was just too cold to stop and get my phone out. My phone also has a habit of dying in extreme cold and I needed it to record my ride….if it’s not on Strava…well, it didn’t happen.
The first feed station was near Cheddar Gorge and just before the next big climb. There was hot coffee, which was divine. I shared a banana with someone as there weren’t many left and had a few salted peanuts.
The climb was the other side of Cheddar from the usual Gorge climb. Starva tells me it was called Burrington Combe and has an average gradient of 6% – yay another chance to warm up!
At the top it was crazy windy – really strong cross winds and hard work. Then down Cheddar Gorge itself – free miles, wheeee. But it was also very cold and at the bottom where it is very steep (around 16%) the wind was howling up the gorge and I was wobbling all over the place, I didn’t enjoy it one bit.
The weather had brightened up a little and I was quite enjoying myself as the route headed over towards the Somerset levels. Here there was a sign that split the medium and long routes – I had got there in good time so carried on with the long route and to the next feed station for a few more snacks.
The next big climb was The Old Bristol Road. I remember this climb from my Lands End to John O’Groats ride last year. It’s just past the pretty town of Wells and its quite steep in parts and nearly 3km long. I had forgotten how much it kicked up at the end and was relieved to get to the top.
By now the wind was behind me and the last 30km were much easier, although I was quite tired and my feet were frozen. No matter how well you cover your feet when the roads are flooded the water comes through the bottom – result soggy feet. The rest of me was warm enough and my gear worked well – merino vest, long sleeve base layer, soft shell jacket, lightweight rain jacket and gillet, oh and a hat and ski mittens (they look stupid, but are very warm). The Evans guys at the end did mention my strange colour combo – fluorescent green, yellow, pink and orange – I had the lot, but I was warm.
The last 10km seemed to take forever and there were a few more sneaky climbs but finally I saw the sports centre – hurrah!
A quick hot chocolate and I was back in my car and heading home as the rain started yet again.
I got home at 6pm – a 12 hour day with six hours of cycling – totally shattered.
7 down, 43 to go!