HEART OF THE WOLDS SPORTIVE – 24/04/16
The great thing about cycling is the freedom. You can hop on your machine and ride on the public roads and lanes at any time day or night for no cost.
All you need is some get up and go……and a bike of course that can set you back thousands if you are that way inclined.
But we won’t mention that.
Suffice to say the great outdoors is free. There are no gym memberships to pay, no green fees, no booking fees.
When you have experienced cycling on your own, then moved on to cycling with friends or in a club you are then ready to move onto the next stage of your development.
A stage where you willingly pay to ride the same roads and lanes you can ride at any other time for free.
A stage where you willingly pay to ride with the same friends and club mates that you always do.
The time has come for you to enter a sportive.
The first event Annette and I ever did together was the Heart Of The Wolds a few years ago.
The event is split into 3 rides, The Langtoft Loop, The Classic and The Challenge. Previously we had done the Langtoft Loop which was an “easy” 37 km designed for riders maybe just starting out.
I enjoyed it a lot particularly the bottle of beer at the end.
This year we were going to do The Classic a 100 km route around ..er ..The Heart Of The Wolds.
Starting from Driffield there would be an initial 10 mile section with a few gentle lumpy bits running through Kilham to Rudston.
On the road to Thwing would be the first proper climb of the day followed by a descent onto a flat section that would take us past the village of Foxholes, and then through Butterwick, Weaverthorpe and Helperthorpe.
The road would then kick up over a 3.5 mile stretch taking us through Sledmere before a fast descent through Duggleby, North Grimston and Birdsall to reach the first feed station.
The only disadvantage in going down a hill in this countryside is that pretty soon you know you will have to go up a hill. The 2 big ones would now be coming up.
After the first feed station would be 2.5 miles of climbing incorporating Birdsall Brow with an average gradient of 7 % for just under a mile. Nice.
A well earned twisting and winding descent into Thixendale would then end with the shock of the most aptly named Painsthorpe Lane climb. Again approximately 1 mile with an average gradient of 6 %. I could hardly wait.
At the top of Garrowby Hill we would take in the promised stunning views , yeah whatever, before a welcome descent into Millington and then one last unwelcome ascent into Huggate.
The organisers describe this last climb as ” surprisingly tough ” whereas I would describe it as ” unsurprisingly tough “.
From there 8 miles all downhill back to the start/finish in Driffield.
THE LEAD UP
In the days leading up to the event, I think it was fair to say that Annette was having a crisis of confidence.
” I am having a crisis of confidence ! ” . Told you.
“What’s the matter ? ” I asked.
” I don’t think I’m going to get up these hills. I have had the lurgy all week, I’m not feeling good at all, I know I will end up walking up these hills. Let’s do the Langtoft Loop instead. ”
“Doing the Langtoft Loop is not going to get you ready for Ride London is it ?” I pointed out….pointedly.
After a lot of tears and tantrums we decided yes that we were going to do The Classic.
‘OK I ‘ll do the Classic ” she said ” Now for God’s sake stop crying will you Alan ! ”
The start and finish point of the event was at the Driffield Show Ground. Looking out of the car on the way over it looked bright and sunny. A bit blustery maybe but conditions looked OK.
We were in for a shock though when we parked up and walked over to the pavilion to register.
Hells teeth it was cold ! I mean gobsmackingkly, bone chillingly cold.
The temperature was a manageable 4 degrees. But the north westerly wind whistling in from the arctic made it feel like ……the arctic.
I had brought a number of clothing options with me in the car. The weather made my choice simple, I just put it all on. Every bit of clothing I had brought.
Feeling (and looking) somewhat like the Michelin Man I lined up on the start with Annette where we ran into Bill from the club and his grandson William. We decided to all ride together.
So after our talk from the organisers at the start (follow the signs – yep, follow the highway code – yep, do not litter – yep ) we were off !
THE FIRST 10 MILES
The first 10 miles to Rudston consisted of a number of rolling hills.
The wind was making things unpleasant both slowing our progress and making us cold. Did I mention it was cold ?
It was a cross head wind if you know what I mean. Either fully or partly against us.
I kept looking at the wind turbines to figure out the wind direction in the hope that there would be some respite round the corner or at the next turn. No such luck.
Annette was going through a typical early ride downer. That feeling of impending doom where you are not at your best and the majority of the hills and mileage are still to come.
As a result the initial rolling hills seemed more like swiss alps. I could hear dark mutterings and chuntering behind me. Perhaps not the time to deploy my usual “pull yourself together ” motivational pep talk.
The only way to lift an early ride downer I have found is just to crack on and start making progress on the ride. What is the alternative ? Stop, call a taxi and go to the pub for burger, chips and a pint ?
Actually that is quite a good alternative but to her credit Annette cracked on with the former rather than the latter.
Coming out of Rudston heading towards Thwing was the first reasonable climb.
We were worried that we were ruining the ride of Bill and young Bill who waited for us a number of times in the first 10 miles.
I had a quiet word with Bill senior.
“Much happier riding along in a group Alan so don’t worry about it”
That was really nice of him and took the pressure off.
Young Bill didn’t get a say. That’s life kid.
THINGS START TO LOOK A LITTLE BRIGHTER
Does anybody go through Thwing without saying ” Thwing ! ” out loud ?
No ? Just me then .
After Thwing was a nice downhill run towards Foxholes and a flat run through Weaverthorpe and Helperthorpe. We decided to have a little stop at Helperthorpe for food and liquid refreshment.
Not burger, chips and a pint unfortunately but flapjack, bananas and water.
We were now just over 20 miles into the ride. Annette took her jacket off as she was getting too warm. There was no way I was taking any layers off as it was still galactically cold as far as I was concerned.
She was getting more into it now, less dark and murderous and more….. purple.
The early ride downer was gone. She was transformed.
Setting off again we started a 4 mile gradual climbing section that would take us into Sledmere.
Annette was going better now so I felt I could go off a bit every now and then and stretch my legs and get the heart pumping a bit.
On the last rise into Sledmere I gave it everything I had to try and give young Bill a run for his money. When I turned round he was right behind me looking bored and disinterested as if to say
” Oh I’m sorry was I supposed to be trying then ? ”
Not only was he not breathing hard but I don’t think he was breathing at all. No oxygen was necessary to keep up with me.
The climbing didn’t stop when we got to Sledmere. We turned right at the Eleanor Cross Memorial and began the final 2 mile climb that would take us to the top of Stonepit Hill.
This was by far the most unpleasant part of the ride not because of the climb but because the road was taking us onto an exposed hillside and we were cycling directly into the freezing wind.
Did I say it was cold ? My god it was cold.
It was my turn to be on a bit of a downer now. I was still waiting for the enjoyment to kick in on this ride.
The only part of my body that was exposed was my face. It felt like all the heat from my body was being sucked out of my cheeks …my face cheeks ! The cheeks on my face !
Even the steep descent into Duggleby wasn’t much fun as we were still into the wind and all that was happening was that the heat was being squeezed out of my cheeks even faster…..MY FACE CHEEKS !
At the bottom of the hill was a sharp left turn and at last we got some respite from the wind.
Coming over Stonepit Hill our little group had grown from 4 to 5. We had come across Mark, another CRC member, who was doing the ride solo.
He was most welcome in our little band and he stayed with us from that point on until the end.
FIRST FEED STATION
The ride continued for a further 6 miles on a downhill track through the village of North Grimston and on to Birdsall where we stopped at the first feed station.
Having availed myself of some pretty rubbish feed stations over the years I am happy to report that this feed station was excellent.
Cold and hot drinks available with the usual bananas but also, a first for me, jammy donuts. They were satisfying, energy giving and filling. They were also incredibly moreish.
I only had one…….OK then I admit it I had two……….well to be totally accurate it was three.
Well all that heat energy sucked out of my cheeks had to be replaced……face cheeks.
To be honest I didn’t really want to leave that feed station as I knew what was coming next.
THE MAIN HILLS
Immediately after the first feed station was the climb out of Birdsall. Included in this was Birdsall Brow with an average gradient of 7 % for just under a mile.
Certainly a hill that gets your attention but not one that should defeat anyone. I felt confident it would not defeat Annette as I positioned myself to ride along with her.
If she was finding it hard then she could just drop down into the lowest gear and keep the legs turning over. There was no rush to get to the top.
Excellent advice that I communicated telepathically to her as we made our sure, steady and silent way up. I didn’t feel that saying it out loud would have helped the situation.
Sure enough though she got up showing admiral determination. Don’t tell her I said that though.
Once over the top it was down the steep and winding descent on the other side into Thixendale.
Coming out of Thixendale was significant hill No 2. It was very similar to significant hill No 1, very do-able.
A mile with an average gradient of 6 % and then another mile with a gradual rise to the top of Garrowby Hill. Nothing to be scared of here.
I positioned myself alongside Annette again and gave her lot’s of telepathic encouragement.
“C’mon love you are doing brilliantly, just keep the legs turning, you are killing it !! ” I thought.
“Super effort up both those hills darling” I thought to her. No need to go overboard and say it out loud.
We crossed the busy A166 at the top of Garrowby Hill and then got onto a super quick 4 mile descent into Millington. Unlike the last super quick descent we did into Duggleby this time we actually had the wind behind us.
Just over two thirds of the ride gone now and we were finally catching a break with this wind.
There was one downside to this descent though. Sorry obviously the descent is literally a downside but there was a second downside…..potholes !
They were everywhere. So many, it was pointless …to point.
I saw Mark actually bunny hop one. That was well impressive. You know when you look at a Boeing 747 and you think to yourself ” How the hell does that get off the ground ? “. It was like that.
Young Bill went off into the distance to get a head of steam up and foolishly I tried to catch him up.
This I did eventually but so tired was I that I told him his saddle bag was nearly coming off so he had to stop and check it. I’m not proud of it.
A hard left at Millington took us onto a winding road on the valley bottom that eventually began to rise up to climb out of the valley. Slowly at first and then a nasty kick up at the end.
This was the “surprisingly tough” climb the organisers had promised and marked the end of the hill climbing on the ride.
It was all downhill from here.
SECOND FEED STATION
After the 1st feed station and the quantity of food consumed I wasn’t hungry in the slightest or feeling low in energy at all as we approached the 2nd feed station just after Huggate.
We stopped to take a break but no need to refuel here, I am totally fine thank y……hey are those mini pasties and sausage rolls ?!!
Well just one …..handful ….of each…….for me thank you.
After I’d eaten half my body weight in pastry I was thankful that, looking at the flags fluttering in the wind at the feed station, the elements would now be fully behind us for the last 8 miles.
THE LAST 8 MILES
The last 8 miles were literally a breeze. All downhill with a following wind.
With all that pastry inside me I was building up a hell of a momentum. I was like the unstoppable force.
After Tibthorpe we were soon homing in on Driffield and the finish at the Show Ground.
I tried to marshal our happy band to come through the finish line together and close behind me so I could capture the moment on my GoPro.
As you can see I failed but that blip coming over the finish line is Annette.
Maybe it was the seething mass of humanity on either side of the road creating a cauldron of noise cheering us home that made communications difficult.
Well it was over and we all dived into the pavilion to catch up with other riders from the club and most importantly to claim our bottle of beer.
One thing was for sure though, I certainly didn’t need anything to eat. I was stuffed , what with jammy donuts, pasties, sausage rolls , flapjacks etc.
I must have consumed about 5000 calories on this ride, far more than I had actually used up in completing the event.
Whatever was on offer at the pavilion there was no way I was going to ha……..hey is that pie and peas ?!!
I am taking part in the 2016 Ride London – Surrey 100 and this year I am doing it to raise money for The British Red Cross. Click on the red Virgin Money Giving box to donate. Thank you very much.