I dont do many Cyclosportives to be honest but the tough ones have an attraction. The etape du dales is about as hard as they come.
At 110miles with about 12,000ft of climbing involved it certainly is a hard day in the saddle. Sunday was very wet and windy which did not make for an easy time on the route.
I knew it was possible for me to achieve a gold sub 7hr standard but by how much was hard to predict. Anyway I set off quickly in the first few miles and had a couple of riders with me, we worked together until the first climb and then just did our own thing. I can only climb at one pace and thats quick so i just paced myself and told myself that i would climb at that pace on every climb of the day.
I didnt stop at the checkpoints and managed to get with a tiny group after Tan Hill who were cleary good riders and we worked together through and off for 15 miles. We then got split and I was alone again for a long long time. I managed to catch a rider towards the end but he was totally shattered and couldnt work so from there on I was alone. The final feed station came into view and I climbed over the tops and blasted along the valley back to Grassington to the finish. 9th place overall and 6hrs 36minutes of lets say hard work.
I have been training for this since the back end of last year which is when I started to up my bike training and concentrate on more riding than running. It has got me thinking about riding a few races and getting a race licence. I know I would be better on a bike than at fell running but I have known for a long time you struggle to do both and I love the fells too much. It felt good to be tramming along quickly over the hills and the descents seemed comfortable even in the rain at speeds approaching 50mph.
I even got asked by some of the Skipton lads to join their club as I pulled them along at one point. I didnt quite average 18mph which would have given me a sub 6 1/2 hour time but then again you have to stop at least twice for mother nature.
Fuel for the ride was a huge bowl of porridge,raisins,bananas which was cooked up in the van before the off which made a huge difference. Plenty of coke, a snickers bar and 2 x gels.
Too many people set off on these epics without enough fuel in them and quickly hit the wall after all the energy has gone. I didnt once feel ill or drained. What now on the bike ?
Glorious Views and a brutal course make this a brilliant day out. All the proceeds go to supporting The Dave Rayner fund which funds up and coming riders trying to make it as professionals which is what its all about. many of the UKs top riders have come through this system