So, the Ripon Revolution sportive, my second 100 miler of the year. The first of course was the Etape du Dales back in May.
This one promised to be a bit different, not least because I'd now got lots of miles in my legs but also because the hills were all in the first half of the route with the last half being pretty much flat out in the Vale of York. There were quite a few Skipton CC riders entered but only I'd entered the long or (Jeremy Clarkson voice) "EPIC!" route. The first thirty miles or so were shared with the medium route anyway. Given that the route is so close to us, I'd actually ridden very little of it so it was all going to be new to me.
We woke up on Sunday to quite nasty weather though once we were over at Ripon it at least wasn't raining but it was definitely windy. This wouldn't be good on the first climb over to Lofthouse. The nice man at the starting gate reckoned it was going to start raining about 10am and if we wanted we could do the shorter route rather than get cold and wet.
Actually it didn't turn out that bad with just one short shower, not enough to put the jacket on for, on the climb out of Masham. The climb over to Lofthouse wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the cattle grid marking the summit appeared about two miles before I thought it should have. Down in Pateley Bridge and decision time: bad weather alternative to the left; planned route to the right. Turn right and up Greenhow it was. Again not a bad climb but a definite headwind once the steep bits were over and done with.
The rest of the route went fine, mostly I was on my own though from Summerbridge to about five miles after Kirkby Malzeard I was riding with a guy from Harrogate until I looked round to see him about two hundred metres back, off his bike with cramp. By the time I got to the last food stop I'd been on my own (and passing quite a lot of riders along the way) and also had the feeling that I hadn't been feeling the wind against me for a while. I needed to get in a group for the last bit back in to the wind.
About two miles after the food stop a group went past me, but too fast for me to get on to their wheel, then about a mile later a second group of just three. A couple of miles of real effort got me on to the back of them and then it was just a case of doing my turn on the front. We picked up another rider with about 15Km to go so even easier work wise.
I'd got it in my head that the time limit for the gold standard was 6hr45 which now that I was in a group looked very achievable, I'd guessed that I'd be finishing in around 6hr30. With this in mind at about 10Km to go and seeing Cath up ahead I reckoned that I could roll in with her and still make the gold standard time so I peeled off the group and chatted to her. She'd had a blowout just after the last food stop so had been delayed a bit. At the top of one rise I realised that I'd dropped her so decided to press on.
Before too long I recognised the road as being the one we'd set out on and crossing the River Ure there was the finish. Over the line and stop my clock at 6hr31min37. I'd only just got back to the car and begun to get changed when Cath arrived, so she hadn't been that far behind.
I'd actually felt pretty good for the whole ride and hadn't had a bad patch, in fact I would have been quite happy to do another twenty miles or more: the benefits of dong a lot of miles in the preceding weeks.
It was only when I got home and check that I found that the gold standard time was 6hr34! Was my watch correct? Had it auto-stopped at any point? When the results appeared, it was confirmed: 6hr31min37 Phew! My first sportive gold standard, in fact I'd never even got a silver standard before now so I was really pleased with how things had gone.
I went for a recovery ride the following day and even managed to get a top ten cup on Strava without either trying (I stopped for a comfort break!) or realising. Things are starting to feel good :-)