Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Le Petit Grand Depart

Managed some short faster rides this week, mainly at night though with the increasingly longer daylight hours the first half of one ride was in daylight/twilight. On Saturday I led the first of our club's improver rides. These are intended to help riders improve their speed as well as improving group riding skills - riding as a tight group tends to increase speed as you are sharing the workload and actually doing less work at any given speed. It's why you get the peloton in races. Anyway there were four of us and we managed to stay pretty well in formation, of course there are lessons learned and hopefully next week will apply some of those.

Andy and I had arranged to do the route of the club sponsored sportive on Sunday, this is all tied in with the Tour de France and the first 60Km follow the route of the first stage up Wharfedale, down Bishopdale to Aysgarth then along the valley to Hawes. Rather than continue over Buttertubs a la Tour, the sportive then heads back to Ribblehead, down to Settle and back to Skipton. Around 130Km or 80 miles in total.

It then got decided (not by us) that this would be a good time to get shots for a cycling magazine article on the event so surprise, surprise rather than the usual handful of riders, nearly twenty turned out. (Not cynical me ... ) There was an 'A' group of about 12 and a 'B' group of about 6. After a short detour through Skipton town centre to get some shots there we headed up the Grassington road at a steady pace and it wasn't long before the first big climb over Kidstones was reached.

This is steady with just a short section at the top that is significantly steeper than the rest. Then it was the fast descent in to Bishopsdale and with the sun coming out it felt a lovely spring day. Then we turned left up Wensleydale and directly in to the strong westerly wind. The pace dropped significantly and it took a good while to get to Hawes. Cafe stop mandated!

We were just leaving when the second group arrived so not that far behind really. I'd joked earlier with Andy about the section up Widdale and over to Ribblehead being tough and with the wind blasting down the dale it certainly was. There's no shelter on this section so it was just a case of keep pushing on. To make matters worse it was starting to rain. The group got split on this point and we had to wait a few minutes at Ribblehead. Fortunately the wind was now on our backs as we headed down Ribblesdale but even so we were all cold and wet enough that another cafe stop felt mandated at Settle.

By now I was feeling the distance and didn't really fancy the climb up out of Settle and over to Airton since I'd also got the climb up home to do as well. Also one of our group was heading back to Howarth so he and I went the flat way. Not really an easy option as it turned out since he was pretty quick but by the time we got to Carleton my legs were definitely on the way out so it was a slow crawl up the hill and back home. In the end I managed 142Km so another longest ride so far. Having foregone a cafe stop in Settle, the 'B' group arrived in Skipton only about half an hour later.

For those that did the full route finishing over the top from Settle, they took just over five hours so something like 4hrs30 would appear to be a good time for the route in less breezy conditions.

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