Jodrell Bank Sportive 2010

Well I've done it, I've completed my first sportive of the season. The Torelli Jodrell Bank Sportive kicked off the season this morning at a chilly, overcast 8am from Woodford near Stockport. There were options of 30, 50 and 80 miles. I chose 50.

Signing on was a doddle, I simply had to give my name in at the desk and in return I received a goody bag (water bottle and 3 gels) together with a timing chip.

Once prepared I joined the queue at 8am for the start. It never ceases to amaze me just how egotistical these events can be. I was stood next to a group of guys talking the talk, the funny thing being that this guy had a brand new BMC carbon frame, DuraAce groupset and Zipp wheels, probably 5-7k worth of kit, and he was doing the 30 mile. What is the point?!

Anyway our timing chips were swiped and away we went. The first 15 miles sped by, the route taking us from Woodford, through Alderley Edge to Mobberley, through to Peover, Lach Dennis and then to Goostrey for the first feed stop. I arrived at Goostrey in 56 minutes.

At the feed stop we had our timing chips swiped, picked up free bananas, gels, energy drink and water. A minute later we were off again, winding through Goostrey before a couple of loops around Withington (Jodrell Bank) before heading onto Siddington, Broken Cross on the outskirts of Macclesfield into Prestbury, Bollington, on to Pott Shrigley, Poynton and then home again.

Up to Siddington was easy. I was rolling along in good rhythm. It was when I hit Siddington that things started to get messy. It got lumpy and the open fields surrounding the route caused a heavy headwind which made long drags of road last forever.

One of the big problems with today, compared to the sportives I took part in last year, was that nobody was prepared to work in a bunch. I don't know if it was because of early season and people were having issues with fitness but nobody even wanted to work as a pair! The wind was pretty bad, side on and head on, working as a bunch would have been perfect but it seemed to be everyone for themselves.

In fairness during the first 5 miles there was an attempt, however people just hid in the wheels and I spent half an hour on the front with no attempt of anyone coming through to take a turn. Luckily I eventually broke off.

So with this, wondering through the open Cheshire plains in the wind was hard going. Then came the hills. After a good 40 miles in the legs it came as a surprise to come across some steep ascents. I've been practising, reading and watching a lot into climbing technique and I found that my climbing has improved.

I found a lot of UK magazines really push that you must sit down and spin on the climbs, which I've really struggled with. However I found that European and American authors tend to promote an out of saddle approach. I've found that I suit an out of saddle climbing style, probably due to the fact that I can stamp my weight on the pedals.

I've also learnt not to panic and to keep my own steady rhythm, because of this I found I wasn't being too eager to grab lower gears. I also found that I wasn't huffing and puffing up the hills as in the past. I feel with my out of saddle style I have more control over my rhythm and thus found my heart wasn't pounding out of my chest.

Although saying all this, the hills were a shock to the system and in the last couple of miles I struggled, barely rolling along, my thighs were on fire, my lungs were hurting, my head light, my eyes tired. I was worn out, totally out of energy despite 6 bottles of drink, a packet of energy shots and several gels before even considering my pre-sportive build up of pasta and porridge.

The Result

This is where the surprising part comes in. Out of 207 riders doing the 50, my split time to Goostrey was in the top 20. My overall time positioned me 63rd. This proves again that if I can loose weight and improve on my climbing I can really start getting competative. I also found once again that although I was dropped on the climbs, I re-gained advantage on the decent and flat.

It is a shame the Jodrell Bank is on so early in the season as it is quite rare to have a timing chip. I started the sportive not considering time, more concerned about getting miles into the legs however I was humbled to have a time of 3 hours 20 minutes. I was expecting much worse however lets not forget I was churning out 100Ks quicker than that towards the end of last season.

My time put me 63rd out of 207 riders. 45 minutes off the first place man, however heart warmingly my time fitted in within a couple of minutes of a big bunch of riders so I'm pretty much on average pace. I thought an average speed of 15 mph was really good for me considering the hills too. Overall I'm delighted!!

I really enjoyed the Jodrell Bank Sportive, it was well organised and extremely well signposted (the signs had even been put out a week in advance!). I would have enjoyed it more had I been fit, perhaps they may have a re-run in August?

Anyway, I would definitely put the Jodrell Bank down in your diaries as a season opener in 2011. Next up: the Cheshire Cat on the 28th March!

4 comments:

David said...

Perhaps the view that it was well organised comes from the fact that you were on the 50 and not the 80. No food at feed stops and no food at the end? Laughable organisation.

Woody said...

Hi David, sorry to hear it wasn't as enjoyable for you on the 80. I noticed on the feed stops that people were asking for more than 1 gel. Perhaps there should have been a limit and more fool to those that didn't come prepared enough.

John Sutton said...

I didn't have the same experience - I got into a fast group of 3 of us and we took turn and turnabout for nearly an hour and 40 mins until my legs popped approaching Macc. After a couple of gels I recovered sufficiently to finish in 2:43 - 3rd fastest, by far my best result in a sportive. It really helped knowing the roads well.

As for the organisation, the website clearly said that food would be for sale at the end so I guess David missed that. I did think that food looked limited at the feeds but I only took 1 gel- being on the 50 I didn't need much nutrition. Did think that £25 was a bit steep, though.

Woody said...

Nice one John, great time - well done!!

I thought £25 wasn't too bad due to the timing chip and free feed stations. I think it was a mistake not to monitor the hand out of gels, cakes and bananas but hey lessons to be learnt for next year!