Monday, 23 November 2009

Downland Autumn Sportive Report

Sunday Nov 8th 2009 - 100 mile route
I had early suspicions about this end of season local Sportive. For starters, why was the online entry list not managing to break 100 riders?, (maybe they'll all turn up on the day I thought), and why was no one from Thornton showing any interest? (it must be me). Maybe everyone has access to some long range weather forecast that I don't. Regardless I thought I'd give it a bash, as the route went though some very scenic parts of east kent and I had nothing else planned that day other than being a Dad and walking the dog.
The day started off cold and grey with low over cast cloud. The day finished off cold and grey with low overcast cloud and the middle part was the same. However the previous nights thunder storm had at least cleared the rain from the sky. What it had also done was wash every small shard of flint onto the lanes of East Kent.
I arrived at Downland Cycles, signed on, drank a coffee, topped up on SIS Gels and started the ride with a group of about 15 other riders that unbeknown to me were all mates from Whitstable Sailing Club. There were no marshals on the route but it was well sign posted and easy to follow. Within 5 miles I must have past at least 10 riders fixing punctures. Our group stayed puncture free until about 15 miles then we seemed to pick one up literally every mile or so for the next 15 miles. We split into 2 groups to reduce the odds of stopping, and I stayed puncture free until Aldington. By the time I reached the feed station halfway at Bethersten I had used all 3 of my spare inner tubes. I soon gave up any idea of a decent time as I continue to play puncture Russian roulette. The day turned into a war of attrition. Downland were selling cheap inners at the feed station so I topped up and left with about 4 of the original Whitstable Sailor types.
At about the 65 mile I ate a caffeine gel and suddenly thought I was Eddy Merck. In a rather naive move I decided to leave the comfort of my sailor mates and went for a lone breakaway. This was all going to plan until I punctured. .....twice. The Sailors waved merrily as they sped past during the second of the two puncture repairs and I never saw them again.
I didn't enjoy the last 20 miles, my caffeine gel had long since left my system, it got colder and I'd told my wife i'd probably be home 2 hours ago. Eventually I arrived back at Downland. I ate 5 pieces of cake and finished the route in 6 hours 59 minutes. I couldn't fault the organisation or the staff on the day. They provided two well stocked feed stations and a broom wagon. Although I thought £22 quid was a bit steep. For a local small scale sportive it was well organised and all the staff were helpful and polite. I'd do it again but would wait to sign on the day having checked the weather. I have since brought some puncture resistant tyres, so far so good. Looking forward to Ashdown in Jan but will stay with the group untill at least the last half a mile. All the best.
Jim (Diesel) Reeves