Ok, so its not in the same league as Hippy’s recent epic White Horse ride or Jos’ race wins but yesterday I scored another “win” for the club. I entered my first Sportive down in the South Downs and on the basis of having been injured alot recently and not having many miles in my legs I decided to do the short 40 mile option .Whilst relatively short in distance it had about 800m of climbing so it certainly wasn’t flat.
My main object was just to enjoy the sunshine and the chance to ride some quiet roads in beautiful countryside….well that was the plan till I reached the midway checkpoint to be told I was just behind the lead group.
On hearing this I drank half a bottle of energy drink , jumped back on my bike and set about playing catch up. I quickly caught the back of the group which had started to split and over the course of a couple of miles I picked off riders until there was a group of 5 including myself left. The pace was upped as people clearly started their tactics. I sat in behind what I felt were the 2 strongest riders and soon we had lost another 2. I decided to move to the front and put some pressure on. Pace went up again and for a while the 3 of us stayed together with no one else prepared to lead. Then we dropped 1 and after a couple of minutes the last guy tells me he is going to have to drop back and wait for his mate.
I am faced with the decision of waiting or going for it. Quicker than you can say “Marco Pantani”, I drop the hammer and with 7 miles to go decide to make my break. I am now in that place we all dream about. The solo break away. The questions start to play in my mind. Can I keep this pace up? How many hills left? What is left in my legs? How quick is too quick? For a second I feel like I am part of the Tour, like an extract from Tim Krabbe ‘s ” The Rider”.
I decide I can’t look behind and just concentrate on turning as big as a gear as I can.My legs are now burning and my HR is rarely drops below 160bpm.
Then following the signs I am directed onto a road I recognize. The finish is just ahead . A quick look behind and its all clear. Just a straight road ahead to victory.
I cross the line to the thunderous applause of 3 people and am awarded a cup of tea for my efforts…..its about 80 degrees and I don’t even like tea.. not the glittering prize I was hoping for. The next couple of guys arrive 5 mins later and after a quick chat about their carbon wheels ( not quick enough though to catch me eh??) I decide to drive back to London reliving the epic ride.
Checking the results I missed a gold by a few minutes and only 3 silvers were awarded so overall I was pretty pleased with myself. Next time I’ll enter something a bit longer but for now my cycling cv states : 1 event – 1 win. ( ok ,there are no wins in sportives……)
My only regret was not having the Rollapaluza Race Top , so that I could mimic the great Mario Cipollini as I crossed the finish line , zipping it up to the top, adjusting the shades, a quick look to the gods and then arms wide open to salute the fans…..maybe next time….
Unfortunately I can’t make the Horseshoe tomorrow night to celebrate due to work so you will have to wait a bit longer to hear me tell this story again ..maybe on the next club run..