Manchester 100 Sportive

Well my next sportive will be the Manchester 100 mile on Sunday 6th September.

The Manchester 100 Route.
There are two options. A 100 mile and a 100 kilometre. The route starts at Wythenshaw Park which is always a nice venue to start from as there is ample free car parking and proper toilets too. You can start when you feel like and you are normally in groups of 30 to 50.

From Wythenshaw the route winds down to Knutsford, through Ashley (going past Tatton Park). There is a lengthy drag going past Tatton Park, which can be a bit surprising early on for the legs but nothing major. From Knutsford, the route continues to J19 of the M6 and past The Windmill pub, through Pickmere, past Arley Hall and through Great Budworth before a sharp dig at a crossroads into Comberbach.

The Manchester 100 route continues through into Barnton where a short hill normally slows down people really quickly, so be alert, look ahead and be ready with the gearing. 5 minutes later, once into Winnington there is another short stab called Burrows Hill, this again quickly slows people and finishes as a junction at the top so be careful.

The Manchester 100 route then travels into country lanes and this is where the 100k and 100 mile routes split. The 100k continues on to Winsford before re-joining the 100 mile route at Middlewich and home. The 100 mile route goes on to tackle around Burwardsley, past the picturesque Beeston Castle (with a couple of minor climbs) before finishing halfway at Nantwich.

From Nantwich the route works it way up to Winsford, Sandbach, Middlewich, Alderley Edge, Wilmslow (where there is a stinker of a hill when you have tiring legs) into Styal and back to Wythenshaw.

It's a great ride, every junction is clearly signposted and marshalled. There are about 3-4 stops through out the rides, Middlewich is a main feed point for both rides by the canal.

It seems like eternity since finishing the Rapha Condor Blackpool Sportive at the beginning of the month. After doing 4 100k sportives back to back, your legs get used to it, the distance gets easier and as I found faster.

I've been out on the bike a bit, mainly 10 mile time trials and I've done a couple of 2-3 hour rides, but nothing major. I do fear I've lost the sharpness of the legs from a couple of weeks back but we shall see. I'm looking forward to the challenge of completing my first century.

What did I say about Russell Downing?!

I told you, surely a place on Sky must be knocking on the door for Russell Downing now as he has only gone and now won this week's Tour of Ireland! This week's 3 day tour (cut down from 5 because of the credit crunch) included some big names including Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong, Dan Lloyd and Jeremy Hunt, their teams Columbia HTC, Astana and Cervelo are also represented. Halfords and Rapha Condor are other UK teams invited. Saxo Bank are also in there too.

Russell Downing won the first stage for his team Candi-TV Marshalls Pasta, which also saw Rapha Condor's Kristan House win a intermediate sprint. Not a bad year for him having won the National Champions Jersey recently. Mark Cavendish won the sprint on the second day too, rounding off an amazing year for him too.

For Russell Downing to win against such well recognised international riders is fantastic. I wouldn't mind a Pinarello Prince like his either!! At nearly £4000 just for the frame, I might need to save the pennies for a bit longer!

Great Britain World Championship Cycling Team

Amazing news. Great Britain has been allocated 9 places at the Road Race World Championships in Switzerland in September! Because Great Britain, as country, is in the top 10 UCI ranked nations (due to the impressive results of all our riders in UCI competitions recently) we are able to have 9 riders instead of 6 for those outside the top 10. Great Britain is ranked 8th in the UCI list with 462 points.

It is an huge achievement, even ousting out big cycling fanatics France.

Currently, 14 riders have been chosen to go on a training camp in Switzerland and will be narrowed down to the final 9.

Looking through the list it is incredible the list of just 14 names, and just shows the talent British cycling has at the moment:

Jonny Bellis (Saxo Bank)
Mark Cavendish (Columbia)
Steve Cummings (Barloworld)
Russell Downing (CandiTV)
Dan Fleeman (Cervelo)
Chris Froome (Barloworld)
Roger Hammond (Cervelo)
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)
Dan Lloyd (Cervelo)
David Millar (Garmin)
Ian Stannard (ISD)
Ben Swift (Katusha)
Geraint Thomas (Barloworld)
Bradley Wiggins (Garmin)

The most notable addition for me is Russell Downing. Fantastic news, especially for the UK circuit and surely must give him a heads up for the Sky team next year now. I'm a huge fan of Russell Downing and he has swept up pretty much everything this year. I hope he gets a place.

My 9 would be: Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Froome, Steve Cummings, Roger Hammond, Ben Swift and Russell Downing.

The World Championships are on Sunday 27th September.

New Sportive Hits The UK

News in today that bike manufacturer Wilier has teamed up with new sportive event company Uk Cycling Events to sponsor a range of sportives hitting the lanes from October 2009 into 2010.

UK Cycling Events are looking at catering for both the road and MTB market, much like Evans Cycles do with their Ride It sportives.

Unfortunately the majority will be kicking off down South. The first events will be the Wilier New Forest Sportive and the Wilier South Downs Sportive on the 11th and 18th October respectively.

There will be a choice of 3 routes, 100 mile, 70 mile and 40 mile, which are 10 miles more than the standard which will be a bit more testing for the beginner, amateur and experienced bracket riders.

Event facilities will include free parking, energy bars and gels, up to 3 feed stations, signposted route, mechanical support, event timing, showers and maps. Entry fees range from £22 to £15 which is again the norm with pretty much any sportive.

Check out UK Cycling Events for more info.

Rapha Condor Blackpool Sportive Review

Rapha Condor are getting quite a few mentions on this blog of late, hopefully I'm inline for a free jersey sooner or later! Saturday was the third sportive in a row for me, another 60 miles this time around the Lancashire countryside.

The Rapha Condor Sportive is another new addition to the UK sportive line up, and a warm up to the Blackpool Nocturne crit series later on in the evening. The sportive started at the Solaris centre, right on the seafront of the South Promenade (for those of you that did the Manchester to Blackpool, it was finishing point for that sportive).

The route would take us on a loop from Blackpool into Lytham St Annes, through Warton, Freckleton, Kirkham, Longridge, Goosnargh, Woodplumpton through Lytham St Annes and back home.

The weather started off dull and grey with the odd shower so with full length bibs and stowaway jacket on we set off (signing on was a doddle, the facilities were great and starting was efficient). The route took us down the long drag up to Lytham St Annes. The pace was fast pretty much all day. Once again I suffered cold muscle syndrome at the start, loosing my starting group but managed to join another slower moving group, then got on the front and dragged them along to the bigger group up the road just in time for the country road stretch.

A group of about 15 of us tore through beautiful winding country roads, if only it had been hot and sunny! The roads were deathly quiet allowing the group to take up the whole road with no problems. A couple of short but sharp hills within the first 10 - 15 miles caught me out, which saw me hitting the back of the group. I hung on and managed to work back through on the flat.

The pace was relentless, the group was never more than 2 a brest due to the pace and you were constantly pushing forward. Well, we thought we were going at a good pace until out of nowhere the Rapha Condor Cycling Team came bombing through. 20 of them all 2 a brest. You dug deep, you tried to catch the wheel but the speed was too mad to keep up. It really makes you think just how much more you need to improve when you see that and credit to the Rapha Condor team for getting involved with us common foe, it was a great experience.

Anyway, after that the bunch, which had rolled around country lanes for the last hour, became detached. Everyone was everywhere and soon enough I was on my own. I think I lost energy from chasing the Rapha Condor group and then simply lost track of the bunch in the process. I think the bunch was full of strong, faster riders that left me at that point.

So I battled on, a couple of drags crept up but nothing to worry about. No-one over took me nor did I see anyone either. I eventually came to the feed stop and was the first one there. By this time the sun was shining and off came the jacket. I was joined 5 minutes later by 6 others and from there I continued with 2 guys. We worked together really well, constantly taking turns on the front and rolled through the lanes really well. Unfortunately I lost them at a road junction having got caught up for 5 minutes trying to cross and ended up doing the last 12 on my own.

Again the roads rolled along pretty quickly and the final couple of miles into Blackpool through Lytham St Annes dragged once again (for those that did the Manchester to Blackpool it was the same finish). I'll never get used to that drag it's a pain.

I rolled across the line in 3 hours 30 minutes. Delighted. I had knocked 30 minutes off Cheshire Plains and Peaks and 1 hour off Manchester to Blackpool. To makes things even better apart from numb bum my legs felt great, even the next day.

The organisation was great, the organisers were really friendly, a smiling face and clap is always great at the end. You recieved a free SIS gel, energy bar and drink at the feedstation. Everywhere was signposted really well, some larger markers would perhaps be an improvement for next time but no major worries.

There was a mixture of abilities but I would say this sportive was more for those into their cycling with a couple of sportives under the belt. I would definately recommend the Rapha Condor Sportive.