2011 miles ticker

The Largely Irrelevant Weight-loss ticker

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Three go Wild in Shropshire (and Wales)

As an end of season tester myself and two colleagues, all three of us keen on doing next years Etape, entered the Wiggle/Kilotogo Wild Edric Sportive at the end of October.

This 98 miles has over 2,000 metres of climbing, more than the Cheshire Cat, so the primary goal was to achieve a similar time to the 7:20 that I did at the end of March. At least that way I would know that this year hadn't been too damaging.

Being a little late sorting ourselves out, Brett, Andrew & myself rolled out about 10 minutes after the first starters, but immediately found fragmenting groups on the road. Brett and I dug in and got on a group of 6, Andrew missed it, got shelled out the back, and wasn't seen again all day.

Arriving at the bottom of the climb to the Long Mynd, it was apparent that something was awry. I could still see Brett after the first pitch upward, indeed I could still see the whole group. Some of them did drag off into the distance over the next 2 miles, others did not. In fact, others appeared from the far distance and were left behind. For virtually the first time on a UK Sportive, I was passing other riders uphill. Thankfully, I realise that giggling out loud is frowned upon and I managed not to do it. The 20% descent of the Burway into Church Stretton was damp and 'interesting' but it wasn't until 5 miles later that I came across the aftermath of a rider using his face to brake on the greasy road surface. He was a mess, and certainly made me concentrate on riding more carefully for a while. Until a HUGE group came past at mega-speed and, for once, (again a virtual first) I managed to get on the back. Not only that, but I also got into as well as onto the group, and was a contributor as we then averaged 40kmh for the next 25 minutes.

Arriving at the first feed, I saw something I have never before seen on any Sportive. Brett. He was just leaving as I arrived, and whilst I didn't see him again until the end, he was not that far in front. The real draggy climbing starts as the route goes out through Montgomery and Kerri, but I still managed not to be overtaken by too many, and keep up with most. A small walk was taken on Kerri Hill (300m at 19%) with the legs threatening to cramp up. Cramp was a worry, but not one I have suffered from in a good while. The reason for this was evident later in that I was going much harder than normal.

After the climb to Cilfaesty Hill on the Welsh border, the next 12 miles is mostly downhill to Knighton, and a complete blast. After Knighton, to Clun the road tortures you some more by constantly gaining and then losing height, but after Clun, the last 10 miles flattens off a bit. After Clun, I hit the afterburner, and was amazed to find that I actually had one. The last 10 miles were done in 34 minutes, but unfortunately were just a bit to slow for me to hit an unexpected landmark.

Silver Medal time on the Wild Edric is 6:34:00. I finished in 6:38:10. Utterly spent, but well pleased. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that I would get well inside my Cheshire Cat time, let along miss the Silver standard by just 4 minutes. In fact, my ride time was 6:29 so actually on the bike I was inside the time. I'm loving this being lighter thing.

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