Ladies Underwear, A Motionless Dog And An Iron Lung

HEART OF THE WOLDS SPORTIVE – 23/04/17

I had resisted entering for a few weeks pleading poverty….

“…. I am a poor pensioner …the cat needs an operation….the boiler has gone kaput…..we are down to our last 25Kg bag of porridge…..what about Brexit ?!!”

But in the end there was no escape. I knew it was April and therefore I had to do The Heart Of The Wolds sportive. It’s the law.

It was The Classic route for Annette and I again this year, 60 miles in the Yorkshire Wolds over a range of terrain…

Flat….. no problem

Downhill……positive pleasure….as long as it’s not too steep as my eyes start to water at 30 mph and I get a bit scared.

Rolling…….yeah OK so long as the uphill bits don’t go on for too long

Challenging ……you mean steep hills don’t you !? Oh come on !

This year we would be doing the event with Rich who luckily turned up in his Cottingham Road Club jersey giving me the wafer thin justification I need to call this a club ride and therefore put this blog on the club website.

    
THE ROUTE

I described the route in my blog of last year’s event ( what ? you didn’t read it ?! ) so I am loathe to do it again. I don’t want to cheat you dear reader by lazily just repeating myself.

In summary it goes …Driffield …flat and a bit of rolling …Rudston…rolling bordering on challenging followed by downhill…flat……Butterwick, Weaverhorpe, Helperthorpe …..rolling…. Sledmere. ….rolling…downhill…..Birdsall….CHALLENGING…..downhill….Thixendale….CHALLENGING…. downhill…..Millington….flat….tiny bit of CHALLENGING…..Huggate….downhill…..finish …..pie and beans and bottle of beer.

Yes I think that just about covers it.

GETTING READY FOR THE START

Annette and I had come to our now usual agreement on riding together at sportives. Namely I would stay with her and occasionally go off and have a bit of an effort up a hill or something and then wait for her to catch up. This way she would not be thinking she is “ruining” my ride.

ANNETTE & RICH IN THE START CHUTE !

In truth this is perfect for me because I didn’t want to be trying to “go for a time ” all the way round as I would end up a gibbering, twitching, cramping lump of flesh. Who wants to do that ? That’s not fun.

This way when she catches me up I can pretend I am a cycling god whereas in actual fact I am totally knackered and in need of a rest/iron lung.

VERY HELPFUL DIAGRAM OF AN IRON LUNG TO AID VISUALISATION

Once we arrived at Driffield Showground we parked up, registered and then returned to the car to get ready.

Rich joined us and we discussed the most important topic of the day…the weather. The forecast was pretty good. 9 to 13 degrees with a light to moderate westerly wind, clear skies and sunshine. So clothing choice was pretty straightforward right ?

Absolutely, it was full winter gear for me ! My thickest Gore wind stopper jacket, a long sleeve base layer under that and a vest under that. As for shorts ? You must be joking !

ME APPROPRIATELY ATTIRED

As I stood next to the car in the blazing sunshine I was feeling a little warm and taking some flak from Annette and Rich.

” I am telling you once we get going it will be cold ” I bleated ” There is something about this place, remember last year ! ”

” But Alan, that was…last year ! ”

Reluctantly and under some pressure I took off my base layer just leaving me with a vest under my thick winter jacket. Luckily Rich did not clock that I was wearing a lady’s vest that I had stolen from Annette.

Look…..it feels nice against my skin! Good job I didn’t have to change my bottoms. Moving on.

ROLLING OVER THE START LINE

We listened attentively to the pre start safety and ” Rules of the Ride ” talk which somehow had morphed into some kind of a gig from last year and then….we were off !

PHOTOGRAPHERS AND SAYING HELLO

The first few miles out to Rudston were flat with a bit of rolling. No problem…..except I was a bit cold.

” I’m a bit cold guys ! There’s a bit of a wind that cuts right through you don’t you think ?! ”

“No, it is not cold Alan ! ” came the frosty reply ( pun intended)

ON THE WAY TO RUDSTON

We took a right turn signposted for Kilham and up ahead on the slight rise I saw a photographer lying in wait to snap us.

” There’s a photographer up there ” I said helpfully to our little group ” get yourselves ready for looking good. Wipe the snot and dribble off ! ”

With that Rich shot off like a bat out of hell dancing on the pedals like Alberto Contador himself.

Blimey, if ever you want to light a fire under Rich then telling him there’s a photographer up ahead is certainly the way to do it ! ( Come on Rich it’s better than short jokes …which are coming by the way )

IF HE SEES A PHOTOGRAPHER HE’LL BE OFF !

When we got to the photographer it turned out to be David who has been on a number of club rides with us, the last one famously where he got fed up that the coffee stop was taking longer than the actual ride.

I don’t blame you mate, totally out of order.

Anyway I just managed to recognise him as I went past and gave him a wave and a hello.

After Rudston came the Burton Road climb on the way to Thwing.

Quite a testing climb I think which tempted me into giving it a bit of a go up there. I didn’t tell Annette or anything I just buggered off.

That’s how I roll. I’m kind of edgy like that.

We regrouped at the top and soon we were going through Thwing and then a pleasurable decent (i.e not too steep and scary ) into the valley below. At the bottom of this decent we were passed by a pleasant bunch of riders who all said hello to us.

Don’t you just hate it when people go past and don’t say hello…..is that just me ?

HELLO TO YOU TOO ANDY !

The lead guy even knew our names ” Hello Alan ” and then “Hello Rich “. Except to our eternal shame we could not put a name to the face and had to resort to the save all ” Hello mate “.

“Hello mate” basically means ” I ‘m afraid I don’t know your name and I am embarrassed about it. I am hoping that the conversation does not develop into a situation where it becomes clear I do not know your name and my embarrassment is compounded…and by the way hello to you too ! ”

It was only after some exceptional ( or possibly creepy depending on your point of view ) cyber stalking that I managed to find out the identity of rider 502.

So Andy, thanks very much for saying hello and I hope you had a great day.

WE PASSED THIS GROUP OF “PINK LADIES” ON THE WAY TO HELPERTHORPE

We had a little stop at Helperthorpe where we were watched closely by an absolutely motionless dog  who was sat in an overlooking upstairs window.  I know it sounds weird, but it happened and I am not making this stuff up.

There was a discussion as to whether the animal was in fact stuffed but 1) Who stuffs a dog  and puts it in an upstairs window ? and 2) I saw his eyebrow twitch.

MARK ON HIS WAY TO GOLD….HE MUST BE COLD THOUGH !

Going through Sledmere we saw big Mark from the club on his way to a gold standard time for the Classic, well done mate and also Annette and Rich were in good spirits sharing a laugh and a joke.

ANNETTE AND RICH SHARE A JOKE IN SLEDMERE

After Sledmere the route took us up and over Stonepit Hill and down the other side towards Duggleby where we took a sharp left to go through Wharram-Le-Street and North Grimston on rolling terrain that I believe we can officially designate as “cheeky”.

The views were lovely over the top of the hills…but it was cold. I turned to my ride colleagues,

” It’s cold isn’t it guys. I’m cold. Are you cold ? ”

” No Alan….for the love of god, it’s not cold ! ” . Alright, alright, I was only saying ! Jeez !

It wasn’t long before we were approaching the feed station in Birdsall and we could get off for a bit of a break…..and a warm up…because it was cold.

HILL CHALLENGES

Last year I went a bit mad at the first feed station and had far too much to eat. The subsequent hills were made a lot harder by the prodigious amount of pastry and jammy donuts that were consumed.

So this year at Birdsall I only had a cup of coffee ( thanks Rich ) and one jammy donut ….and a sausage roll….and a chocolate flapjack I had in my pocket. Starvation rations I think you’ll agree.

TRYING TO GET SOME SHARED BODILY WARMTH FROM ANNETTE WHO IS RESISTING !

The organisers had set up Birdsall Brow and Painsthorpe Lane as two hill challenges for the route. I had checked out the segments on Strava before the ride and helpfully the start and finishes were signposted out on the course.

I don’t know if there were any prizes on offer. I certainly wasn’t going to win any prizes except maybe fastest 14 stone, 53 year old ex smoker from Wigan who now lives in Barton. I was pretty sure I had that prize locked down. I was playing for pride.

HAMSTER CHEEKS FROM ANNETTE AND RICH AT BIRDSALL FEED STATION

On the Birdsall Brow challenge I wanted to get a time that started with 4…minutes, not hours ! I was dreaming of a time that started with 3.

The segment was 0.6 miles long with an average gradient of 8 %. It started just before the road kicked up initially and finished at the junction where we would turn left towards Thixendale.

The initial ramp up is the steepest and this brought reality crashing home to me. It was only the second time I had done the climb and I had obviously forgotten how hard it was. After that first section I was already in need of that iron lung with the bulk of the climb still left to go.

There was a guy in front of me who was pulling away and I tried to concentrate on him to drag me along.

Much pain and suffering ensued.

When I got to the left turn at the top marking the end of the segment I certainly had given it everything as I was wobbling all over the place.

I was wobbling so much in fact that I bumped into another rider whereupon we followed standard “bumping into someone ” protocol. Namely, no matter who’s at fault both parties say :

” Sorry mate ” and carry on.

We all regrouped at the top of Birdsall Brow and enjoyed the sweeping downhill run into Thixendale.

ON THE SWEEPING RUN DOWN TO THIXENDALE

There must have been a photographer on the road as Rich went off like a bullet down this section and was out of sight before I knew it.

So it was another regroup in Thixendale when Annette and I caught up with him and then it was time for hill challenge number 2.

This was the aptly named Painsthorpe Lane out of Thixendale. This hill challenge segment was 1 mile long with an average gradient of 6 %.

This time the start was signposted 100 metres or so before the hill actually started to ramp up. So you could take a run up if you wanted to……we didn’t want to.

I set off at one notch under suicidal and kept it as constant as I could.

Much pain and suffering ensued.

I came across a group of riders half way up and got in a bit of a muddle trying to get past them on the wrong side. All my fault and if it hadn’t have been for that my new personal best would not have been 6 minutes 24 seconds, it could’ve been as low as 6 minutes 20 !

HALF WAY UP PAINSTHORPE

And what of my Birdsall time ? Well it did start with a 4 and it was 4 minutes 21 seconds.

” And what about your ranking on the day ? ” I hear you all cry as one.

Well, do you really think I’m sad enough to keep checking Strava for the rest of the day to see where I was on the “Today” leaderboard ?

Am I that shallow and desperate for recognition and aggrandisement ?

You bet I am ……..about 30th….. before I stopped checking in case I dropped any lower.

……and Annette and Rich got personal bests as well. Remember them , it’s not all about you Alan!

RUN FOR HOME

After the Painsthorpe Lane climb we went across the A166 at the top of Garrowby Hill and started a welcome 4 mile decent into Millington.

There then followed a number of miles along the valley bottom road before it rose up and deposited us at Huggate just prior to the second feed station.

JUST AFTER MILLINGTON

Here my wife had an altercation with the mobile bike repair van which decided to stop in the middle of the road at the point where the Challenge route and the Classic route separated.

Obviously at the merest hint of confrontation I was out of there and left her to it. Later when she caught up I asked her what had gone on but after the expletives had been removed she didn’t actually say anything. So I was non the wiser.

Following the Huggate incident or Huggate-gate ( see what I did there ? ) we arrived safely at the second feed station.

It was only about 15 miles after the first feed station so we were hardly likely to be be suffering from malnutrition….however, you can’t be too careful and I had a couple of sausage rolls just to be on the safe side.

SECOND FEED STATION – THAT IS AN EXCELLENT GAZEBO

After a bit of an argument with my ride colleagues about which way to go from the 2nd feed station we set off for the final 10 miles. For some reason they refused to accept the way I was telling them was the correct way, which it was. That hurt guys, that hurt.

So putting this contretemps behind us ( I won’t forget it though ! ) we set off on the luxurious, pipe and slippers downhill ride all the way to Driffield.

We had a practically straight run down through Tibthorpe and onto the A614 into Driffield where we had fun picking of groups of riders and pretending we were cycling gods.

There’s always one who takes it too far though and Rich got all competitive and sprinted off for the line at the end.

RICH ATTACKS !!

Don’t say you didn’t Rich I have it on film !

Shortly after that we had crossed the line, collected our T shirts and picked up our pie and beans ( or mushy peas or gravy depending on your preferences ) and bottle of beer.

ANNETTE CROSSES THE FINISH LINE

I also enjoyed watching the “Geek Off” as Annette and Rich rushed to upload their rides to Strava from their mobiles and analyse the data.  Apparently requiring a computer and a lead for this task is the official definition of a caveman.

I don’t know who won the Geek Off but Annette certainly won the battle of the headgear as that bobble hat absolutely destroyed Rich’s baseball cap.

” Call that a hat ? No, this is a hat !! ”

Great day, great ride and great event …..pity it was a bit cold though.