I started Sunday by forcing down the breakfast of champions at 06.30, whilst struggling to manoeuvre in my new “aero” cycling top – which can best be described as snug.
I arrived at Plumpton Racecourse at 07.30 and the omens were good. Not only was the sun shining – but Plumpton is the scene of my biggest sporting triumph – sticking a tenner on Zizou at 25/1 (chosen purely for the name) and he romped home first!
I set off at 08.00 hoping to average over 15mph, and finish the 60 miles in less than 4 hours. I joined the back of a group of about ten guys who; judging by the definition of their calf muscles and cost of their bikes must know what they’re doing. We seemed to start off quite slowly, but with this my longest ever ride, that was probably a good thing. We caught a few cyclists, and after a while the bunch started to thin out. I still felt good – admittedly I hadn’t done a much of a turn on the front. I cycled alongside one chap who had a GPS to enquire on progress, and was amazed to discover we were 30 miles in and averaging 19mph! More and more riders fell back and eventually it was just me and a guy on a bright red Pinarello. We chatted, a sportive isn’t a race, but could we be the on course leaders? We cycled together until he split off to do the 85 mile Epic route, and then I was on my own. I started to feel tired and every small hill now required the granny. Eventually I was caught by another rider; fortunately his GPS said there were just 7 miles to go – Great news. Both knackered we encouraged each other back to the racecourse, where he destroyed me in the sprint to the line…
I finished in 3 hours 20 minutes – an average speed of 18mph. Checking the stats – I ended up coming sixth out of 280.
I’m tempering my confidence because there wasn’t a single climb on the entire route – not the best practise for next weekend – and a real shame as we were in the shadow of the South Downs.
I arrived feeling conspicuous in Lyrca, did I merit wearing it? I left relieved that my time justified the outfit…