I got into cycling a bit for the UK Challenger event about 4 years ago, but didn’t really use my mountain bike much after that. In the last month or so I decided to get it back out and go for adventures down the canals. My friend and several work colleagues completed a 100 mile sportive and this got me into searching for an event I could do. So as per usual I found myself a nice challenge, this time in the form of the AAT events Surrey Sportive. I was slightly sensible and decided to go for the middle distance of 97km/60miles for my first one.
After going for a 30 mile practice race on my mountain bike, I decided it might be a good idea to get a road bike. I soon realised how expensive road bikes can be and luckily managed to find one that had what I needed (basically wheels and some gears) in the sale. It came with just normal pedals with a material cage, which was tricky enough for me to try and co-ordinate getting my feet into. So I decided not to try and get cleats just yet. But it was easier to go faster on, as I managed to go round the same 13 and a bit mile route in about 18mins quicker. Improving from an average pace of 11mph up to 15mph.
Looking at the course profile for the sportive it was clear they were making the most of the Surrey hills. So I got out on the new bike and tried to find every hill I could in Reading and just keep going up and down them. Anyone watching must have thought I was mad, which to be honest they are probably quite right.
But it paid off on the day, when just over half way through I reached the first big hill and once I conquered that it was soon onto the second big hill. I thought I had done well finding a 12% incline hill in Reading, but Surrey hills have 22% and go on for a lot longer.
Going on the few training cycles I had done on the road bike I was hoping to keep my pace around 15mph, so considering the hills, I was happy with my average pace of 14.6mph. Good thing about hills is while I may have gone up them slowly, I came down quickly which is where I’m sure I got to my top speed of 35.3mph.
Having never done a sportive before I didn’t know if there would be water or food provided on route. This combined with my plant based requirements meant I was sure to pack my own food. (I also had a huge bowl of my power porridge for breakfast). I took several OTE gels and Clif bars. I had the OTE pineapple caffeine gel at the start of the race and then had the crunchy peanut butter Clif bar half way through. Which along with water I took in my bottle and camelback was plenty to keep me going. So the lemon and lime & blackcurrant OTE gels will be saved for another event. The chocolate chip Clif bar though got eaten once I got back to the car.
I crossed the line in 4:01.12. I would have liked to have been under 4 hours, but that just means I have to do another one and go faster next time. The real surprise came when the timing report given to me at the finish said I was the current leader.
I checked the results the next day and was amazed to see I was indeed the fastest female in the 60 mile event and 14th overall.
I know Sportives are not supposed to be competitive races, but I’m competitive by nature. I’ve already decided I want to do another one. Where I’ll be trying to beat my time, but if I can also go faster than everyone else that will be good too!
That long on a bike sure did take its toll on my body. My legs and bum (helped by padded shorts and a padded seat cover) didn’t hurt too much the next day. It was mainly my neck that ached the most. So I was very glad to go and have a session with Sylvia Sobota at Nurture Your Body where she works her magic and sorted me out. Which along with using my Better You magnesium spray daily and several baths with their magnesium flakes got me all fixed up and back in the gym training.
I’ve got a weekend off from events and then my running shoes and Vegan Runners vest will be coming back out for some 10k’s and half marathons. Then I’ll be heading back to the Surrey hills for the Box Hill Sportive in Oct. So I’ll still be going out and doing lots of practise on my bike, including going up and down lots of hills again. Aka the great fun madness continues!