Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A PROBLEM......

TIFOSI ON THE REAR OF MY CITY/ECO CAR
I know....almost another week without a post on this blog...but I have a problem!!
Since I retired I just don't seem to have enough time to do everything that I want to. Cycling...Camping...Walking...Photography...Meeting up with Friends and.Family..Blogging....Etc.. etc...
I don't know why it is but I seemed to have more spare time when I was working. Well actually that's not true,  I do know why it is, it's because I am doing a lot more things and more often.
This past week I have been out on the bike almost every day but I didn't ride on Friday and Saturday because on the Sunday I was riding the Annual Dorset Bike Ride with JD and Mike.
This was the 21st year of the ride, although it was the first time that I had ridden it. I usually ride the Duncton Sportive but this year it clashed with the start of my French Touring trip so I decided to ride the 'Dorset' instead.
The day started with putting  the Tifosi on the back of my little Peugeot 107 which I might add is the perfect car for an eco minded cyclist. Very cheap to run and very low emissions.
All loaded up I set off to JDs house arriving there at 0730 hours. From there it was just 3 miles on the bike to the Queen Elizabeth School at Wimborne which was HQ for the ride.
ALL TYPES OF BIKES-ALL TYPES OF RIDERS
Unlike the Sportives I usually ride which are in the main Road Bikes only...the 'Dorset' is open to all riders and all types of bikes. We saw Mountain bikes - Hybrid bikes - Touring Bikes - Audax bikes - Cyclo-cross bikes- Retro bikes - Tandems - and of course Road bikes.
The two guys in the photo above had genuine old British bikes and they were decked out in the full retro clothing to match the bikes...all great stuff and as the ride is a charity ride in support of the British Heart Foundation it just adds to the fun of the day.
I had originally planned on riding the FELT Z1 but because of the torrential rain and storms we had on the Saturday  and overnight I thought that it would be a bit foolish to ride my beloved dry weather bike for the ride. A bike with fenders is what I needed hence the decision to take the Tifosi.
This proved to be the right choice.
GETTING READY FOR THE MASS START
 Now as I understand it there were two thousand riders registered to ride this event and as we all assembled for the mass start it certainly felt like two thousand. This was a problem in my view. Two thousand riders all at different fitness levels and riding every type of bike imaginable and just one mass start.
At 0900hrs the riders all poured out on to the main road- probably to the total dismay of other road users. After only 800yards the route turned off the main road and on to a narrow country lane which within a short distance had turned into a muddy gravel track. After the previous nights torrential rain this was a potential puncture alley and a large number of the road bike riders either dismounted or found an alternative starting route. This included JD- Mike and I.
Looking back on the ride I am surprised that the organizers  didn't stagger the start. After all there were three different distances being ridden - 25 miles - 50 miles and 66 miles. (The three of us were doing the 66).
JD CONTEMPLATING THE START
On the entry form for the event it stated that the 'Route 66' was for experienced riders only, so it does seem a bit silly to send everyone off together. It was such a bad start that I gave up on the idea of doing a good time for the ride within the first ten minutes. I also think that it was dangerous....there were obviously lots of riders who were not familiar with riding wheel to wheel and I am relieved that there were not any accidents. More by luck than judgement I feel.
Funneling two thousand riders down a narrow gravel track just didn't seem very sensible and how glad was I that I chose to ride a bike with fenders. To see the state of some of the bikes and riders after riding down the gravel tracks and country lanes I would have been just a little upset if I had been riding my Z1. I know...........  .....I can clean the bike after the event but the point is I paid big money for it and it is my best bike. I bought it to ride fast roads not gravel tracks..!
ONE OF THE FEED STATIONS
Having given up on the idea of setting a good time I rode the first forty odd miles with JD & Mike.
Now Mike  had never ridden more than about fifty miles in a day so this was going to be a first for him and although JD is a good endurance type of rider, he describes himself as a 'chugger' and he would be the first to admit he is not the fastest of riders.
I don't know if it is just me or if others are the same, but I actually find it difficult to ride at a slower pace than my 'normal' speed. I find this particularly difficult on hills so what I usually do when riding with slower riders is to shoot off up hills and wait at the top or at the next junction for them.
Having said all this I think that I managed to ride quite well  maintaining a similar pace with  Mike & JD for those first forty miles. Then Mike started to get a bit of pain in his knees....nothing ultra serious but enough to slow him down a bit. At this time JD was about quarter of a mile ahead so I shot off to catch up with him. From then on Mike and JD rode on together and I set off in an attempt to claw back a bit of my average speed which was only about 13.5 miles an hour at this time.
MIKE AT A FEED STATION
 From that point on I wasn't passed by anyone and all my hill training seemed to have paid off because I sailed  up all the ascents passing numerous riders along the way.
I must admit it does give me a lot of pleasure to pass riders less than half my age and even more so following all my health issues of the past two years. 
Knowing that I was riding strongly I thought that I would wait at the last feed station to make sure that Mike & JD were OK and my plan was that I would ride hard for the last eleven miles. Team Chugger arrived after only ten minutes and both of them seemed alright. After 'free' drinks and energy bars we all set off again but it wasn't long before I got into turbo boost mode and shot off.
From that point on I rode hard. This was the part of the ride that I enjoyed the most. There is nothing I enjoy more than riding hard and passing everyone- it gives me a real buzz....I just love it. Pure enjoyment....it is what I ride for.
If truth be told that last eleven miles were ridden at the pace that I would have liked to have ridden over the entire distance and if it had not been for the chaotic start, that is what I would have done. 
I have trained at that level so I know that I am good for that effort over that distance.

JD AT THE LAST FEED STATION
During that last eleven miles I felt that I was really on song. I just felt strong, continuing to almost float up the hills and fly along the level.
I arrived back at the event HQ collected  my medal and then I waited to watch all the riders I had passed arriving at the finish.
About fifteen minutes later JD & Mike arrived back...tired but happy.
For Mike it was a big first and I know that he was pleased he had managed to ride his biggest days mileage clocking 73 miles in total. (Including riding to and from the event).
All in all a good day was enjoyed by everyone- only marred in my opinion by the very poor start.
This week I will be back out on my normal training circuits and I will also be preparing the Tourer for the trip to France.  I will make a couple more blog posts before I leave.....
I promise that I will find the time from somewhere..!!

7 comments:

Goodman Manyanya Phiri said...

Chaotic start or not, it seems to me like you guys had a whale of a time.

Was inspiriting to read your post O2:12 am South African time; made me feel younger than 50 again, a daredevil ready to take on the night for some serious sport once again, just like I used to do in my more juvenile days 24/7!

Big Oak said...

I can imagine how disappointed many people around here would have been to hit a gravel track on their nice road bikes.

Despite the crowded course, it sounds like you made the most of your ride. And although you were off your bike for a while earlier in the year, your conditioning since then has paid off!

Good luck on your preparation for your trip to France!

Bill

rlove2bike said...

Trevor, I know the feeling of riding in a group not knowing who you can trust and who you can't. I agree with your decision on that one, as I have witnessed a few crashes. I've been lucky so far.

It sounds as if you are peaking at the right time for the big ride. That sounds like loads of fun. Enjoy ! !

I will give the retirement comments a bit of time before I chime in on that.

MrDaveyGie said...

I am so LQQKing forward to retiring and being 10 times busier then I have ever been. Enjoyed your post.

Worthing Wanderer said...

Sounds like you could have kept going for even longer! Seems like you are fighting fit and raring to go for bigger challemges ahead...

Mr. Paparazzo said...

Nice report!

Jason said...

Great post! I agree about staggered starts ... they're so much more logical and give everyone room to find their own pace. But glad to hear it still ended up being an excellent ride.