Cheshire Plains and Peaks Sportive

Cheshire Plains and Peaks is a new sportive set up by Ian Jerams and Paul Woodrow to raise money for St Rocco's Hospice. There was two options to choose from, either 100k or 100 miles. The 100k went from Stockton Heath, near Warrington, up to Alderley Edge hill and back again, while the 100 mile route continued on through to Macclesfield and spent a few hours in the Peaks, up to the Cat and Fiddle before heading back to Stockton Heath.

I opted for the 100k. The week after the Manchester to Blackpool I was feeling pretty good but then on the Sunday before the Plains and Peaks I came down with a Migraine and felt really tired and groggy for the next couple of days. I was a bit worried that not spinning the legs in the week leading up to the sportive would be a bad move. However I found that the rest had actually done me good and a run to Holmes Chapel and back on Thursday night found the legs to be in good form, just the body feeling lazy.

Come Sunday morning, it was grey. The heavens had opened and it rained constantly all morning. I rolled up to registration at Bridgewater High School, there were warm welcomes and after a quick signature we were given a number. Looking around the hall, I realised that these guys were regulars at pushing out an 'easy' 100 miles. Everyone seemed to be lean figured clutching their amazingly, expensive bikes. Me and my Dave Hinde felt a little out of place!

After an introductory briefing, we headed out on the route. I was first out with a group of 5, soon to be joined by a further 3. In the first mile, the pace was good enough to get the heart rate up and legs going. The next couple of miles the pace stepped up and was very high. I was struggling to keep up and found myself being slipped off the back. I think it was because I hadn't warmed up and the pace was a shock to a still sleeping system. I couldn't be dropped from this group. I pushed hard out of the saddle to keep in touch and eventually I clawed my way back on. Within the next mile or so my body eventually got it's self together and all was ok.

After that I rode comfortably and the 8 of us roared through the country lanes. The pace was good, we got to Alderley Edge is less than 2 hours from Stockton Heath, that was even with a headwind.

I say I rode well, I got dropped dramatically up Alderley Edge hill. Right off the back. I kept calm, from my other rides I learnt not to panic and chugged up at my own pace, keeping my breathing right and fighting past the burning thighs. I got to the top and thankfully a feedstop.

The ride back from Alderley Edge was good, rolling along country roads. I was joined by Graham from the morning's group and together we ate up the miles back home. The only trouble I had was in the last 5 miles, I think with the talking I had lost track of eating. A small drag soon made sure my legs lost any sort of energy. A quick gel sorted that out and the last 2 miles were fine.

The time: 4 hours 5 minutes. Nearly half an hour quicker than Manchester to Blackpool and this time I only stopped once. I was chuffed and I felt good at the end. Ok, I was covered in mud, soaking wet, my shoes had small lakes in them but the legs felt great, not sore or aching.

I would recommend entering next year. There was about 50 of us this year but there is certainly room for growth. The route was nice, riders friendly and the support staff were great.

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