On Monday night playing football, my brain wrote a cheque that my body couldn’t cash, and I ended up going over on my ankle. Several hours later it had swelled up to the size you can see in the photo to the left. All week I’ve been wearing a brace, resting it and hoping the swelling would go down before today. And so it did. Sort of. So at 5-30am this morning my alarm went off so that I could get over to Ampleforth to ride the Ryedale Rumble. As Liz got up with me she gave me a supportive “I hate your bike rides” and sent me on my way.
Organisation was first class with plenty of parking and a dead quick and easy sign-on. I set off at about 10 past 8 and pretty much straight away felt rubbish. I put it down to me taking about 5 to 10 miles to warm up but frankly it didn’t get any better.
About 16 miles in we hit the first of 5 big climbs – Boltby Bank, which is in the 100 Climbs book scoring 7/10. I stuggled up it thinking it was going to be a long and painful day. As it was my ankle was okay but I think I was subconsciously compensating because I was starting to get pain in other places that I never normally do – the base of my foot, the muscle on the front of my shin and my hip. The only time my ankle hurt was twisting to unclip my cleats, which had me worried about some of the steeper hills.
So I was already struggling and even the relatively flat bits of the course were full of short, sharp climbs. The second big climb was, I believe, called Blakey Bank and it was the longest of the bunch but again, I struggled up to the top. The descent took me across a moor with the most vicious cross-wind I’ve ever ridden in. I was riding at about a 10˚ lean into it and still getting blown across the road. It did cross my mind that I’d be riding into that at some point but only fleetingly as I was trying to avoid death.
Some of the hills were frankly ridiculous – the maximum gradients above are 41%! And that was too much for me. At 60 miles I was absolutely shot and then what I thought was Rosedale Chimney loomed into view. You could see this thing from about a mile away, simply going straight up . I think the road-makers in Yorkshire basically look at a hill and decide none of this namby-pamby winding up a hill nonsense – I’ll just drive my tarmac machine straight up and straight down. I walked up the steepest third in the middle after my legs started cramping. After getting over the 4th big hill, which came in quick succession, I thought that was it for the day. At 80 miles I flicked my Garmin to the gradient view and I thought it was misbehaving. There was basically a wall approaching. Turns out this was Rosedale Chimney, so christ knows what the other one was. I struggled up the first third which is about 20% gradient, into a very strong headwind, and then it got really steep. Again, I just wasn’t in the zone today and I had to get off and walk. I was a bit disappointed but there was no way I was getting up. When the gradient dropped to about 16% I got back on and completed the hill – but that’s one that I will have to go back to as it can’t be chalked off in the 100 climbs book. Downhill was also into the headwind and required pedalling – it was just relentless.
The feedstop was a welcome break and with only 20-odd miles to go I was looking forward to the end. However, the last section was completely exposed and into that headwind. I was on my own and it was a real struggle – I was on the small ring on the flat at some points. Mentally my head had gone at this point, I wasn’t enjoying and I just wanted it to end. I’d been passed and dropped almost continually during the day and Easter, when I blasted round the Spring into the Highlands sportive, seemed a long, long time ago.
Anyway, I limped in and handed in my electronic timing dibber, and was rewarded with a piece of paper with my time and a certificate that said “Silver Award”. My total time was 8hrs and 5 minutes for 111 miles which meant an average of 14mph. It also said I was 54th out of 70 finishers*, and the current leader had done it nearly 2 hours quicker than me. I also got a t-shirt for finishing and some hot food. Overall I have to say that organisation was excellent but I didn’t enjoy the ride at all. I’ve spent the summer riding long audaxes at a relatively easy pace with long stops, so trying to do a sportive at quick pace really exposed that.
Ride stats: 111 miles in 7hrs 32m at 14.7mph. Total climb 9064ft. Average HR 151bpm, energy used 6648kcals
*I subsequently found out that I finished 61st out of 105 riders