The more sportives I ride, the more pointless they seem to become. Waking on a Sunday morning earlier than a weekday; paying cash money to ride my bike on free public roads and then cycling for hours within a heaving swarm of cyclists. This weekend I rode the Exmoor Beauty 60 mile sportive with my father-in-law and a friend. When we signed up for the event in the depths of winter it had seemed like a good early-season fitness target and an opportunity to ride with friends. However, by the time it arrived I was wondering why we hadn’t just arranged a long, social ride on the local roads.
I took the first 5 miles steady, unsure whether we were all trying to ride together or do our own thing. But at the top of the first hill I looked over my shoulder, saw I was alone and decided to just go for a hard 60 mile solo ride. We had arrived to the event a bit late so my day consisted of riding on my own and overtaking people. It was a lumpy route with a couple of big climbs up onto the moors and I found my recent time-trial racing had given me some significant extra strength to drive myself uphill.
At the halfway point was a feed zone and I dashed in for a quick pee and grabbed some bananas and flapjack and refilled my bidon. Then I jumped back on the bike and consumed my loot on the hoof.
At 40 miles I knew I was over the main climbs and I really pushed hard to raise the pace to the finish. After a morning of overtaking I had managed to pick up a couple of stubborn wheel-suckers. I wasn’t particularly bothered but still tried my hardest to ditch them. I was on the drops for the last hour pushing as hard as I could sustain but I never fully lost them. They never came through once. I had ridden the whole sportive solo so didn’t really particularly want to follow a wheel, but it seemed strange that they were happy to just draft along in my slipstream for over an hour without doing any of the work.
At the finish line they thanked me for the lift and said they were struggling just to keep up, let alone come through. In the end I covered the 60 miles in 3 hours 36 minutes (including the quick feed stop) at an average of 17 mph. I’m still not convinced about the whole sportive-thing but I had a good workout nonetheless.