Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wessex 100 Cyclosportive. Somerset and Dorset Sunday 29th May 2011

On the late May bank holiday weekend, Pendragon Sports organises a 3 day cyclosportive event running a loop out and back in different directions each day from Somerton.  As I blogged last year I am full of admiration for those who do three days.  I cheat and do only the second day which heads south to the Dorset coast and back.
There was a stiff north westerly wind which blew us down to the coast but then slowed progress on the return leg.  Following the start, a fairly large group formed and this started to split on the steady climb out of Sherborne.  I put in the effort to cross the opening gap and stick with the front group.  This was probably a mistake as I ended up putting far too much effort in too early.  I knew that the climb out of Cerne Abbas would be a point at which I could well get dropped so I passed straight through the first feed (which at 30 miles was too soon for my needs anyway) and tackled the hill at my own pace.  The group passed me as I neared the top.  I had thought I might hang on until the hill at the coast on the Lulworth army firing range but I actually got dropped a little earlier than that on the more modest climb out of West Lulworth.
After getting to the firing range on my own, I enjoyed taking the bigger hill with the views of tanks and their targets, Poole Harbour and finally open sea.  At the top I took a quick break and another rider caught up so we two-upped to the spectacular ruins of Corfe Castle.  Here we were caught by the next group who provided well needed shelter as we turned into the wind to head towards Wareham and the first feed where we stopped for 6 minutes enjoying sandwiches, pasties, pork pies and sweets (certainly the best food I have encountered on a cyclosportive).  This group was well organised doing one mile turns at the front in rotation.  We were now 66 miles in and as I led out of the feed I  indicated I would not be able to do a mile - so we settled on one minute turns, which worked well for the next 15 miles or so to Milton Abbas.
We took the long relentless drag from there up to Bulbarrow Hill at a sensible pace altogether though I was by now definitely flagging.  At around 90 miles there was another feed.  All bar me stopped, I wanted to press on gently.  This I did and when the group came by me I did not have the energy to latch on.  I spent the last 29 miles of this 119 mile ride on my own, towards the end the next group came by me but by this stage I could only watch them flash by and limp to the finish.
Two years ago, on this event, I got a Gold, last year a Silver and this year a Bronze.  These results mean little and do appear to be subject to significant vagaries and some subtle differences in route and less subtle differences in weather from year to year.
'Officially' the route was 117 miles and my time 6 hours 32 minutes
Stats from my Garmin were 119 miles in 6:24 with an average speed of 18.5 mph.  Apparently I hit 43 mph somewhere.
A great ride, I will certainly be back though I suspect I will be sticking to one day; the following morning a repeat challenge did not seem an appealing prospect and not only because of the rain.  Those that do the three days are hardy indeed.

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