Time for an update on my Adventures in Cycling, I think. Mainly because I completed the Hethersett 30/60 (er, the 30 rather than the 60) at the weekend.
Firstly, my stats. I’m not doing as well as last year. My Enormous Geek Cycling Spreadsheet of Awesome Numbers tracks my miles and cross-checks it against how I was doing at this time last year, and the sums say that at the moment, I’m 51 miles down.
Thankfully, that’s redeemable and with good weather I can catch up in a week or two. The main problem was that last year the weather in January and most of February was pretty good – cold, windy, and a bit wet – but not bad. This year, we’ve had weeks of snow and weeks of gales. Last April was rubbish though, and this April (so far) has been mostly great, so that’s where I can make amends. I’m also not been cycling my best times (well, except see later…), but that’s also partly down to weather.
Taking part in the Hethersett ride marked my first proper sportive. Sure, I did the Ride for Life last year, but that wasn’t really the same – it was a charity event and mainly aimed at casual riders, although I’d probably class myself as more than a casual rider these days. This was a bit more serious with proper actual cyclists. I did wonder how I’d keep up.
The forecast for the day was mixed. It was warm, but very windy – blowing north. The event had already been postponed from three weeks prior partly due to similar wind conditions, compounded by recent snow, sub-zero temperatures, and ice. Thankfully it was just the wind this time around.
But hoooo – what wind. The first half of the 30 mile route (or rather, the first 13.5 miles until the rest stop) were almost entirely going south. As in, the opposite to north. 40mph wind in my face, pretty much all the way. A few short sections ran east or west, which gave a little respite but had their own problems with side winds that almost toppled me twice (and did topple some people, it seems).
7 or 8 miles in we hit a slight uphill incline too, so wind and hill combined to make progress incredibly slow. Thankfully, I, along with a few other riders, combined to form an ad-hoc peloton which made things do-able, if still really difficult. I even took the lead a couple of times and we worked together as a team. It was a fantastic experience. Sadly, near the end it broke up due to a few members needing to stop (one had a puncture too) and we got too strung apart. Still, it felt great to be a part of it.
After the rest stop, things went great. The remaining 17 miles were almost all downhill with the wind, so I completely stormed it home. In fact, I did those 17 miles 8 minutes faster than the previous 13.5. I flew past countless other riders, and ate up the miles. I was rewarded with a pile of new personal bests, including stripping more than two minutes off my best 10 miles time, and improving both my 20km and one hour bests.
I also had a minor gloat as I passed the Mulbarton Women’s Velo team twice (once before the rest stop, once after). Childish, yes, but gave me a boost at the time. Actually, overall, I passed far more people than overtook me, so I think I did pretty well really.
That wind though – my legs have not forgiven it.