I’m led to understand that a sportive that is over 150 miles in length, and with at least 15,000ft of climbing, is called an ultra-sportive. Well the Bowland Badass was my first ultra-sportive, and what an introduction it turned out to be.
The initial entry was almost like a job interview – I had to provide details of the types of ride I had completed, and the type of training I intended to do, before my entry was confirmed! It had communications leading up to the event that were both informative and funny. The event had very sophisticated timing – the organiser wrote down the time you started and the time you finished, and then worked it out (really, think about it, what more do you need?). It had three feed stops with lovely food and lovely people manning (and womanning) them. It had a routesheet, gpx files and excellent signs across the whole route. And what a route! You might think all this would be expensive, given that sportives appear to be the current rip-off cash cow for the cycling industry. Well it was £10. Yes, £10! I think I ate that much in sweets at one of the feed stops alone. Without a doubt, the best value sportive I’ve ever ridden.
According to an article in Spin Cycle Magazine, the 168 miles of the ride has 70 miles going up, 70 miles going down and only 20-odd miles on the flat. Those of you who don’t like hills – this is not for you! The 30 catagorised climbs we tackled were Catshaw Fell, Blea Tarn Hill, Littledale 1, Littledale 2, Jubilee Hill, Trough of Bowland, Long Knots, Hall Hill, Marl Hill, Beacon Hill, Knotts Hill, Bowland Knotts, Cross of Greet, Merrybent Hill, Waddington Fell, Pendle Hill, Barley Hill, Sabden Fold Hill, Nick of Pendle, Whalley Nab, Little Town Hill, Birdy Brow, Longridge Fell, Chipping 1, Chipping 2, Beacon Fell, Brock Bottom, Delph Lane, Harrisend Fell and, finally, Long Lane. The scenery was absolutely stunning. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles in the area, on both my own rides and audaxes, and I was staggered how many roads we were on that I’d never ridden before. And considering we did 168 miles, the day was mostly car-free. It was staggering really – until the last section when we returned to Garstang, I can’t recall seeing more than about 20 cars all day.
After a spring and early summer of atrocious weather I was enjoying the sunshine – it was simply scorchio! However, with the amount of climbing, the heat was a serious problem. I found myself climbing with my jersey fully unzipped and it still took it out of you – Chris was especially suffering. At the end, we’d taken on massive amounts of fluid and our kit was encrusted with the salt we’d sweated out. The descents were pretty good too – apart from the condition of the roads. There appears to be a new, cheap, way of resurfacing roads now. Basically the council chucks a load of gravel on it and lets the traffic flatten it. It’s not good for cyclists and makes for a twitchy descent. Still, although I didn’t quite crack my best ever speed of 51mph, 47.9mph was pretty good.
Overall, a fantastic day. Very tough and very difficult, but what a challenge! Our total time was around 12 hours and 40 minutes.
Ride stats : 168 miles in 11hrs 42mins at 14.4mph average. 16,601ft of ascent. 8,788kcals of energy used. Average HR of 132bpm