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The road goes up, the road goes down, the road goes up...

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16 Apr 2017

Preparing to ride "Wales in a Day" on 22 July 2017 by riding the "Steam Hammer" sportive, starting from Salcombe on Sunday 9 April.

Raising money for Bloodwise in memory of Don Courtney.

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At 4 a.m. the alarm sounded beside the bed.  I'd already been awake since 1.45 a.m.  Not a good start for a day when I would drive for 2½ hours, cycle 107 km over hilly terrain and then drive for a further 2½ hours back home.  Hilly?  Certainly, and steep in places. 1900 m of climbing in 107 km sounds a lot to me, especially so early in the cycling season.  I chose this sportive as an early component in my training schedule to bring me up to a level to manage 190 miles from Caernarvon to Chepstow, which will be about 300 km and 4500 m of climbing in a day.  When I left home at 05.30 a.m. the roads were as empty as expected for a Sunday morning. After the very sunny weather in the south of England during the previous days the Met Office had been forecasting cloudy conditions for the Salcombe area.  It wasn't looking hopeful when after a beautiful sunrise on the journey I encountered thick fog west of Exeter.  Nevertheless, as I drove down through the South Hams the sun suddenly re-appeared through a beautiful blue sky and was to stay with me for essentially the whole of the day.  Unusually for a British sportive all riders tackling each of the three chosen routes left in a mass start and the results were published in time order, thereby effectively making it a race for those who wanted to ride it as quickly as possible.  I had other ideas.  My training was about endurance, not speed, and I estimated that I should be able to spend up to one hour at the feed stations and still manage to finish with a “silver” time for my age group (60+).  What I didn't know at the start was how much of that time I would need for recovery.  As it turned out I coped well with the hills, managing my predicted average moving speed and allowing me to spend in total about 35 minutes at the feed stations enjoying Liège waffles(!) and still be placed second in my age group (well there were only five). All in all then a satisfactory start to my run-up to 22 July.

My next test will be "Sam's Ride" on 21 May, a sportive organised by Salisbury and District Samaritans.  I will ride the longest route which is 100 miles (with only two feed stations) and has something of a sting in the tail in the form of a 17% climb after 83 miles.

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