Sportives – been there, done that, got the t-shirt

The more sportives I ride, the more pointless they seem to become. Waking on a Sunday morning earlier than a weekday; paying cash money to ride my bike on free public roads and then cycling for hours within a heaving swarm of cyclists. This weekend I rode the Exmoor Beauty 60 mile sportive with my father-in-law and a friend. When we signed up for the event in the depths of winter it had seemed like a good early-season fitness target and an opportunity to ride with friends. However, by the time it arrived I was wondering why we hadn’t just arranged a long, social ride on the local roads.

Riding solo over the moors

Riding solo over the moors

I took the first 5 miles steady, unsure whether we were all trying to ride together or do our own thing. But at the top of the first hill I looked over my shoulder, saw I was alone and decided to just go for a hard 60 mile solo ride. We had arrived to the event a bit late so my day consisted of riding on my own and overtaking people. It was a lumpy route with a couple of big climbs up onto the moors and I found my recent time-trial racing had given me some significant extra strength to drive myself uphill.

Pushing it up the hills

Pushing it up the hills

At the halfway point was a feed zone and I dashed in for a quick pee and grabbed some bananas and flapjack and refilled my bidon. Then I jumped back on the bike and consumed my loot on the hoof.

The hills were mostly contained within

The climbs were mostly contained within the first 60% which meant a quick race to the finish

At 40 miles I knew I was over the main climbs and I really pushed hard to raise the pace to the finish. After a morning of overtaking I had managed to pick up a couple of stubborn wheel-suckers. I wasn’t particularly bothered but still tried my hardest to ditch them. I was on the drops for the last hour pushing as hard as I could sustain but I never fully lost them. They never came through once. I had ridden the whole sportive solo so didn’t really particularly want to follow a wheel, but it seemed strange that they were happy to just draft along in my slipstream for over an hour without doing any of the work.

Trying to ditch the wheel-suckers

Trying to ditch wheel-suckers

At the finish line they thanked me for the lift and said they were struggling just to keep up, let alone come through. In the end I covered the 60 miles in 3 hours 36 minutes (including the quick feed stop) at an average of 17 mph. I’m still not convinced about the whole sportive-thing but I had a good workout nonetheless.