Okay I’ll hold my hands up. I underestimated this ride. I thought it would be easier than a couple of others I’d completed recently and I was wrong. More on that later. The Colomba Chemo Classic is a charity sportive in aid of Cancer Research, starting from Richmond in North Yorkshire. The very reasonable entry fee of £15 also entitled you to a £15 discount on the fine jerseys the Colomba Cycle Company sell, modelled by me in the inset picture. These are quality Merino wool jerseys and I would recommend them highly.
So it was a 6am start for me this morning to drive there where I met two other North Cheshire Clarion riders – Andy and Martin. After last nights gales I was hoping the wind had died down, and it had – it wasn’t gale force but still strong enough to be worrying. The starting organisation was excellent and we were soon registered and off and running. Straight into a fierce headwind! Which lasted for about 30 miles, and then died down as we turned for home and it should have been on our backs!
Parts of the route were quite familiar from the Tan Hill Challenge Audax I did in August, and as usual the Yorkshire Dales never fails to impress with beautiful scenery and relatively quiet roads. Once the wind had died, the odd shower subsided and the sun started shining.
5655ft of ascent
The wind took an awful lot of energy out of my legs, and I felt sluggish and heavy. The first big climb started at about 15 miles into the wind. We hit the summit at 26 miles, including a couple of 8-9% sections and culminating with a final push up a 14% incline. This was Park Rash the other way round. Scary moment number 1 came on the descent which included a -21% section into a tight bend. I seriously thought I wasn’t going to scrub enough speed off and that I’d end up over the barrier. After what seemed like an age, but was clearly only a few seconds, the Swisstop Green blocks managed to slow me enough to get round. Scary moment number 2 was losing the back-end on another descent as I tried to scrub speed off. Thankfully, despite my dad’s moans about my tyres, years of skidding practice as a kid mean I’m quite adept at controlling them.
The first couple of climbs I went up with Andy, but by the end he was putting considerable distance between us on the up bits. He’s a strong rider but I’m normally a bit closer than I was today. Martin did himself proud being very close behind and getting up every hill.
Another big 11% climb and then we dropped into the feed station at 40 miles for a welcome respite. Again, very well organised with plenty of free food and drink. Straight after this it was climbing again with a 2.5 mile 12% hill. Descending from that we were faced with 2 direction signs – labelled Easy and Hard. Of course we took the hard one which took us almost immediately up a 16.5% hill. My new Speedracer Mk2 mudguards sheared off at the front halfway up which was nice. My legs were stiff with cramp at this point too – something which has never happened to me on a bike before. One final 12%-er and we descended back into Richmond to the HQ. Hot and cold food and drinks again free and great organisation meant it was a good finish to a challenging ride.
So to the stats. Total time out was 5hrs 25m with ride time of 4hrs 39m to give a riding average of 12.9mph for the 60 miles. 5655ft of ascent and 4307 kcals of energy used. I genuinely thought this ride wouldn’t be as hard as Seasons of Mist or the Macc Monster and I guess the wind had something to do with it.
Colomba HR chart - 156bpm average, 192bpm maximum
Season of Mist HR chart - 140bpm average, 186bpm maximum
Macc Monster HR chart - 148bpm average, 186bpm maximum
You can see the effect the wind and conditions had. Both SOM and Macc Monster had more climbing (1400ft and 900ft respectively) and were slightly longer and yet my HR was in the red far more today, with both a higher average and a higher maximum.
Scary moment number 3 came when cleaning my bike. I put the bike on the stand and spun the rear wheel via the crank. Hitting the brake to stop it I noticed that the brake pushed the wheel off axis and then it stuck against the brake blocks. It seems when I swapped to my winter wheels I hadn’t quite tightened the QR enough. I wonder if some of the problem today was a rubbing brake block at the rear?
My lesson from today is that the NCC social club runs are not providing me with enough of a challenge to even let me stand still. I feel like I’m going backwards fitness-wise. So I’m going to have to have a re-think about what rides I attend and when I need to go out on my own for some hard training work. It’s clear I need it again.
On a more positive note, I’ll probably do this again next year and recommend it highly to others. A good, challenging route, great organisation, a worthy cause and money off a great jersey. What more could you want?