|Photos taken with my phone - Me, my Dad and my view of the start line! There were 'official' pics taken by photographers on route - hopefully I'll be able to share these later in the week.|
The route turns north from here, crossing back across the Thames below Wallingford and pointing towards the choppier terrain of the south Chilterns, more familiar to Woodcote veterans. A stiff climb of Garsons Hill false summits before the last drag to the courses high point at Cookley Green, before a drop into the Oxfordshire plain gives you a chance for a breather. What goes down though, must come back up, and Britwell Hill is a test equal to Whitchurch; higher, and at the sharp end of the course too!
This brings you to the final act. Enjoy the excellent descent from Stonor, but remember that this course started high. The final miles are stubborn, kicking you up sharply twice and undulating constantly to stretch you all the way to the finish.
The route choices come in three flavours as usual; short and mid total 86 & 103km respectively, with the full course weighing in at 136km with 1,827m of height gain. It's to be a spectacular day out on the bike!"
My Dad and I were on for the 'short' distance and Paul booked in for the 'full' distance as good RAB training. Since the ride was a stones throw from my parents house, we arrived in Reading late on Saturday afternoon with a poorly Niamh. Stupidly I had stayed up late on Friday night, and coupled with little sleep on Saturday night due to Niamh, I was already tired at the start line on Sunday.
Sunday dawned HOT! We decided to drive to the venue, rather than cycle like we did last time, because we really weren't sure how we'd be at the finish and I didn't know if I could handle another 6 miles there and back on top of the actual hilly route. We arrived circa 8am, ready to see Paul off on his full distance and then get ourselves sorted.
Well, what can I say. The first half of the race totally totally killed me. It was so hot, I was tired, I had no energy reserves and I just struggled. Whitchurch hill beat me psychologically, although I didn't get off, so I recognise the win was mine really. Thankfully we arrived at the feed station at mile 28 and I was able to down 3 flap jacks, half a banana and refill my drinks bottle. Fuelled by the food I finally found my mojo and really enjoyed the next 20 miles, we sped along with the same few chaps - over taking them and then being over taken in equal measure. Then with only a handful of miles left to the finish, there was one hideous hill that just finished me, I was out of food fuel and reserves and felt ready to get off my bike and declare the whole thing over. Half way up the hill a couple of fellow riders got off and were walking up - this urged my stubbornness into being and I have no clue how I did it, but at virtually zero miles an hour, I pedalled myself to the top and we cruised home.
I am soo delighted with our time! 7 minutes outside of bronze and average! To say I was tired and that I felt beaten, I am thrilled that we averaged 13.9mph (over 54 miles thats pretty good for me on a good day!). The official time includes all breaks and stops - so our feed station, the 2 small stop breaks, all red traffic lights, general traffic and the three combine harvesters we got stuck behind on a minute lane for at least 5 mins whilst they reversed, so in my head I'd like to think I made bronze if the stoppage time were removed.. But what's in my head isn't on paper, and I need to make sure I achieve it next year!
What do you eat before an event? Everything I have done this year has been in the morning, so I have a breakfast of porridge, milk and banana. Depending on the event, I will sometimes follow that with toast with or without peanut butter and jam. Events aside, if I am doing under 20 miles on my bike (or going for a run), I generally take 1 sports bottle with one electrolyte tab dissolved in it, which I find stops me getting cramp. If I am going out for longer than 20 miles I use SIS electrolyte because it has carbs too. Paul and I both love granola bars for energy whilst we're riding, and of course you can't beat a banana.
I ache today, I haven't ached like this since I started all this shenanigans back in the spring. I pushed myself yesterday, I had nothing left by the end. So I'm kind of relishing my ache today - I earned it! I also learnt that you really can't put a value on getting enough sleep!
As always, thanks to my amazing Mum for watching the kidlets and giving them such a great day. Without you I wouldn't be able to enjoy cycling with Daddy (although the term 'enjoy' was a stretch by the end of yesterday). And you Papa, you were so fab yesterday, you really must try a sportive on your own when you won't be hindered by me.
Christie, you totally smashed your full route yesterday. I hope it has given you a mental boost for RAB. Two and a half weeks to go and you have never looked stronger.
Here's to my next Sportive - 66 miles in the New Forest on the 06th Oct x x x