Signed up to do the Wiggle South Downs 76 mile sportive about a month ago.
I will freely admit that Im not into road riding and struggle to get beyond 2hrs /30 miles when I do venture out on the rb.
Well , it was busy . Very busy in fact . Even at 0730 on a grey, cool Sunday morning with low cloud and mist about , it was busy.
Parked up and signed on no bother , the particular smell of embrocation in the air and the plethora of carbon bikes slightly dented my enthusiasm .
I knew i was out of my depth , still got changed and lined up ready to go. Couldnt bring nyslef to don tights so wore my Humvees and a LS base layer , with a STW Jersey over the top.
I have completed the SDW twice so knew what to expect time wise, and this was only 76 miles on tarmac, which we all know is twice as easy as mud plugging ,right?
Tried to wind my neck in for the first few miles and stay light on the pedals. This worked ok but meant running 'cold' as not really trying . I did have a Montane featherlight with me , but then its 'boil in the bag' and flappy wind resistance to contend with .
Paired up with ( wheelsucker ) 102 mile rider who seemed to be on the same pace as me . He didnt like Duncton Hill descent , which was interesting , verging on frightening . The overnight wind and rain had bought down alot of leaves and they were soaked . Still made it round the bottom corner alive , although my new friend was not a happy bunny .
Around the 25 mile mark a few 'chain gangs' of 5 or 6 riders went hurtling past . I thought i was making progress at around 15mph average, but these guys were probably averaging nearer to 20mph .
Route split so my wheelsucker friend cleared off and the number of riders thinned out abit . Loads of people punctured , and there were a number riding ' in the gutter ' . I asked everyone if they were fine for spares. No one else seemed to offer any assistance .
The route was well marked and used alot of lanes . A section of the A272 was abit lively but mostly OK. The food stations very well stocked ,I didnt stop for long as I could feel myself going cold very quickly . Woofed down 1/2 bananna and some flapjacks and cracked on .
There was a horrible climb up the side of Harting down which nearly made me push , but I cleared it . The decent was fast , but my power was going faster . Still 30 miles to go so backed off and sat in and span my way to Butser Hill. All OK till a hideous climb over the Downs reduced me to walking ( 42:28 double ) although more walked than rode up, so I didnt feel too bad .
Then the final run home to Chichester from Butser was ok, the rain started at 13.30 but I was only a mile out so cracked on .
Only altercation was a person with a miniture penis in a Zafira who appeared to be driving up and down a road full of speed bumps goading cyclists .
Took me 5hr 25min to complete. I am in no way fast or fit . It really is you + bike V tarmac . Its mentaly tiring because of the state of the roads, threat from traffic and being alert to other riders who effortlessly glide past without a word.
The signage was very good , sign in etc well organised for maybe 900 riders give or take . It just isnt my thing , no buzz , no elation ( apart from the finish ). There really is nowhere to hide on a road ride . The skillset is different , I do OK at xc and can handle a mtb, but the head down / bum up grind away ..nah