Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Wiggle Ups and Downs Epic 2013 sportive

My first sportive, which was along some of the same hills as this one, was long and hard. It was raining heavily and I remember just wanting to stand up all the time to get away from the constant butt chafe. It was torturous at times, but extremely satisfying. I finished the event barely coherent and coming off the bike I held onto it for dear life to stop me wobbling off into a group of horrified onlookers. But, I felt like an emperor. I just rode 60 miles. I hadn't known anyone to have ridden a similar distance. It was genuinely amazing to me.

Of course I looked like an idiot too, you know, without a waterproof jacket in torrential rain. All the sillier too for wearing summer shorts and no waterproof booties. I didn't even have full finger gloves. And I guess the poor preparation hasn't changed.

With little to no preparation I have only myself to blame

I've done a few 100 milers or century rides as they are sometimes known. But that was when I was riding as oft as I could. And at the time I was focused on getting a decent time at a half-Ironman as well. These days I can be seen, whilst still on a bike, at the local mountain bike centre on a single speed 29er. With a dog in toe and a time-limit of how much the mutt can maintain her interest levels. Certainly not suitable prep for a century, but surprisingly adequate coupled with a bit of will.

Shut up legs! And other quips
Is a famous quote from Jens Voight telling his legs to shut up and let him get on with racing. Now, I was certainly no where near that level of pain (or commitment), but it's one of the funny (read: taunting) signs that Wiggle put up along some of the harder climbs. It's a nice touch and brings a smile to my face whenever I see them. It also triggers social play with other riders in close proximity read it too and gasp out quips, cheers and laughs. It's a nice touch.

The hills
Maybe it's all the training from last year, but none of the hills defeated me. That first sportive? Well, they nearly all defeated me. Maybe it was because the serious hills were at either end. Perhaps the middle bit gave me the rest I needed? I can't remember the specific names, but a lot of the riders I was around had heard of them and they actually seemed worried. But, alas no. With not much training, I got through them fine.

And credit to a lot of other riders too. I only saw a handful of people walking up the hills. Good on them all!

The food
Wiggle do a great job of providing food. There are drinks too. Everything you need to get through the day. It gets a bit samey after a few stops, but it all goes down and keeps you going. I particularly like the jelly beans. OMG I love the jelly beans.

The service
Really nice people. Clearly they are riders themselves and they really want you to enjoy your day. It keeps me coming back.

The after event
It's just so busy. If you go with friends it must be brilliant. A chance to chill and laugh at the day, but for me as a loner biker (I have no friends who can even sit on a road bike), it's a little bit colder than I'd like. It's hard to socialise too when you're actually cold and you're walking around like John Wayne from all the butt . The weather affects your mood too as do the long queues for food and massages.

It's rare however that I stick around. I usually try and buy some food, but mainly I'm back to the car, partly strip and I'm off home. Usually via a food establishment. I deserve it I tell myself. A lot.

Other riders
I think this was the first time I hadn't seen an arsehole rider. Maybe I'm just cynical, but some riders are just dicks. But on this day, I didn't notice anyone doing anything stupid. No one was silly and not one person had a go at me for asking if they were OK when they stopped on a hill or if I saw them at the side of a road - a usual dick-ish thing that I hate (I'm only asking if you're OK dude, chill).

I even met a beautiful cyclist who had be so smitten that I took a wrong turn. In times past I would have been pretty embarrassed, but I just laughed it off and turned back around. I wished her well and dropped her on the climb. Eat that.

Actually no, she had a broken chain and whilst offering to help her, I mis-took the direction of travel. But it's an important part of the day. It's not a race. It's a sportive. It's meant to be a little social-able and it's meant to be fun. And you're meant to enjoy yourself too.

And I did enjoy myself

There were times where I was having to constantly massage my quads, where I had to stand on most of the climbs and when people were dropping me on the hills (which I hate, I'm a winner not a loser), but still, I was outside, in the somewhat Spring sun and doing what I love.

For £28 it's a great full day out and I would recommend it to anyone, beginners or vets, to give them a go.

Here's the Garmin data for anyone interested.

Check out a bunch of Wiggle and other branded cycling events.