My first sportive of the year, and the first 100km+ ride of the year. If repeats of Dark Hill in Richmond Park are discounted, also my first encounter of the year with hills.
Given the hectic week before (including the crash and bent wheel), and my lack of focus on cycling so far this year, this was setting up to be another embarrassing disaster. I’m glad, and proud, to announce that it wasn’t. Lesson learnt was that at my heavy size, it’s better for your cycling form to focus on losing weight than at climbing better.
The ride, in summary:
- The trains, like last year, were delayed. By almost 35 mins this time, meaning I started at least 45 mins after planned departure.
- Met @Gkam84, a road.cc forums legend, before the start. He was riding his recumbent up and down our southern roads. Rode with him for a few miles before he asked me to carry on.
- Met @dizzymabil and @lulhandy at the first pit stop. Hadn’t planned on stopping here but saw Andy’s jersey from a distance so took a quick break. Glad I did, else might not have lasted till the Hever pit stop on long route.
- The bike setup got a good shock through the ford at bottom of Pillow Mounds Hill. The hill itself was easy, but had to stop after ascending to ensure the wheels were still true and the brakes hadn’t fallen off.
- Rode up Kidds Hill, also known as The Wall, without stopping. Even overtook half a dozen people, accelerated out of the saddle near the top, and got a compliment from a fit & mean old-timer. Achievement Unlocked.
- My longest stop at a feed station this year, at the Hever feed station, was shorter than my shortest stop at any last year.
- First time that I was carrying 2 spare tubes. Ended up loaning one to a lady who’d been suffering from frequent deflation in her rear tyre, without any punctures. Sadly, she later abandoned at the Hever feed station. Saw another rider walking to the same stop after puncturing twice. Didn’t want to let go of my only remaining spare tube, but hope he got the one from that lady, if he met her at the stop.
- Rode all the way up Cob Lane climb without even once coming close to stopping or stalling. I’d stopped thrice on this climb last year. And struggled to get started twice. For the uninformed, this short (320m) climb averages 16% with sections at 20%.
- Hated Deak’s Lane. It was a longish descent followed by a small climb. Hated it because the road was a narrow one track in a condition more suitable for an MTB downhill race, rather than a road sportive. After the shock of crossing the ford earlier, this was a nervous time, specially so close to the finish.
- Finally, loved the leg and back massage at the finish. Specially, the back massage. It was… ‘liberating’ :)
- Keep losing weight. At least till the BMI calculator places me back in the ‘normal’ category.
- On Burgess Hill Classic route, always stop on the first pit stop even if it comes too early for a 100km+ ride. There are way too many hills between 1st and the 2nd pit stop to carry on.
- If you’re aiming at climbing all the climbs, going a bit slow on the flats is pretty helpful.
- Keep eating and drinking all the time. After/Before every climb is a good time to stock up more calories.
Now, onto the next one – 65 mile Puncheur Sportive starting in Ditchling village, and ending on top of the Beacon. Not too scared of rest of the ride, but climbing the Ditchling Beacon after 65 miles of rolling rides will be a challenge.