I recall watching the Tour of Britain pro riders on TV going round stage 2 in Stoke and thinking “that looks quite hilly” even though TV pictures naturally flatten out hills! And, after completing the stage on Sunday, I can categorically say that I was right!
The Tour of Britain Prostate Cancer sportive took place around Stoke – not really known for its hills – except it did take us into the Peak District.
The ride itself seemed quite expensive at £40, but I have to say I haven’t seen a better organised, more well-prepared, better value event than this one. Everything worked smoothly, from setting off under the cameras with a motorcycle escort, to the beautifully marked route, to the free food and gels at the numerous stops, to the finish with a high quality medal, goodie bag including t-shirt and recovery shake, and free pasta meal. Just to illustrate the level of detail and thought – the gpx route download had Points of Interest (POI) programmed in which stated on the map where the drinks stops were. If anyone could tell me how to get a Garmin to do that and I’d be grateful! To the organisers – thank you and you have set a high bar for any other Sportive organisers out there as far as I’m concerned.
I rode with fellow North Cheshire Clarion clarionista’s Phil Jones, Sarah Smith, Martin Hickman and Matt Ellis. The weather was extremely cold making choice of clothing quite difficult. I chose a windtex jacket which meant I was cooking up hills but still cold when stopped. The ride itself is now a bit of a blur. It was a really hard slog all the way round, what with the hills, the cold and the breeze. Here are my highlights in no particular order
- Matt pushing through the pain and getting round – great effort and he should be proud of the achievement
- Phil’s bike (The Unicorn) getting him recognised by a Twitter follower (you can find Phil’s blog in the links on this page). The SRAM wheels he had on were simply amazing – Phil was climbing like I’d never seen him and going downhill he was simply uncatchable – until the crosswinds blew!
- Feeding the ducks by hand at the lunch stop
- The King of the Mountains signs at the bottom and top of Gun Hill (although not necessarily the hardest hill)
- Hitting 51mph on a descent
- Crossing the line as a team
- The quality medal – sorry KilotoGo but much, much nicer than your Mow Cop medal
Overall stats were 101.4 miles including the ride back to the car park, in 7hrs and 19mins at an average speed of 13.8mph. Total energy used was 5631kcals, although I ate my own body weight in Mule bars, get shots and flapjacks!
This was my 11th century of the year and by far the hardest. Very pleased to have done this and look forward to next year!