Ben Hardisty writes…
Being ever the optimist, before this event I was thinking of a sub 4h30m ride. At the 75 mile mark however I had realigned my aims somewhat, to simply completing the event and crossing that finish line in under 5 hours !
It was a really lovely morning, very sunny, time to get the racing shades out which had been gathering dust recently. As I drove down to the HQ at Dial Post I kept an eye on the tree tops and didn’t see an awful lot of movement, I was thinking perhaps this could be the ‘floater’ we’ve all been waiting for all season. The forecast was proved correct though and once out on the course I could feel the brisk westerly wind. Drat.
This course is split into a north and south section, with the north flatter section being a variation of the G50/53 course, without Tollgate Hill (thankyou) but including a longer lumpier speed sapping leg out to the Nowhurst roundabout (Aaargh, i’d forgotten this bit). Pacing myself perhaps a bit too slowly I felt “comfortable” on the north section.
Looking at the start sheet I was in the latter half of the draw which was heavily loaded with fast riders. I realised I could be in for a lonely ride and I wasn’t wrong, I think I passed only 3 riders. At least when Julian Jenkinson came whizzing past he shouted some warm encouragement.
At about the 55 mile point now heading south I spotted someone on the horizon waving, as I got closer it was Mike with a spare bottle. Although initially I thought I didn’t need the bottle, he jumped on his bike, caught me up a few miles later and handed it over. In the end I was very grateful for the iced refill which was still nice and cool.
Now on the southern circuit I was heading all the way down the A24 to the Washington roundabout to complete two and a half laps of the lumpy A24/A283/B2135 circuit. Riding down it was clear the wind had changed to a South Westerly and I started to struggle to keep my speed up.
Throughout the last half of this ride my back was acheing like mad and I was forever standing up and stretching. And after 40 miles of putting it off, I finally had to stop for a nature break – never easy on the move in a skin suit. Being stung by a bee hardly helped my motivation but didn’t hold me up.
Finally I was on the last lap which I was extremely thankful for. Glancing down at my computer I realised with a bit more effort I could get under 4h50m so I pushed hard for the last 3/4 miles.
Many thanks to Mike for his support and to Mick and Steve for the shouts while marshalling. This is a superb event and was well attended with a strong field. Five or six riders managed to get under 4 hours, with Mr Jenkinson putting in a very classy ride to win in 3h42m beating me by over an hour !