It has been a very long while since my last post. I guess that I just don’t feel that the daily (?) commute and weekend rides are interesting enough?
However, yesterday, Sunday June 5th I did something special and almost unique for a non-pro rider. I completed the TOC Gran Fondo. This is a 129Km (we clocked around 85 miles) closed road UCI supported road race! Well, at least for those that entered the race category and top finishers in that classification automatically qualify for the UCI World amateur championships no less! And, for the rest of us… the exhilaration of riding amongst 8000 cyclists on completely closed roads with a chip timing number attached to the bike! Great.
After a cool and misty start to the day, by the time we set-off at 12:30 the sun had come out and it was warming up nicely. I was in the ‘Challenge’ grouping, which basically means that you are only interested in your own time and are not ‘competing’ We were the third group to set off after the Race and Sport groups but before the leisure group who were doing 50 miles. Immediately after setting off we were being cheered along by spectators at the side of the road and this was to continue throughout the day. I was very impressed by the way that local villagers etc. get behind this event, especially considering that most of them have the only road through the village closed from Midday to six or seven in the evening which effectively maroons them. They set out chairs and tables, get the food and drink sorted, and then make a day of it. We were cheered along, clapped, little ones were lining up for high-fives and so on. Brilliant!
The Cambridgeshire Fens are very, very flat so the pace was reasonable despite a head wind on occasion from the North East. There were a few ‘hills’ which were challenging enough for me but did add the bonus of the occasional downhill section where at one point I managed 34.5mph.
Overall it was a very pleasant day out on the bike with almost perfect riding weather, wonderful organisation and support which included police outriders, ambulances (which were necessary unfortunately for a few) and a broom wagon which thankfully we didn’t see.
It cost a little more than I would normally pay to ride my bike but was well worth it.
There were three well placed feed stations, although I did spend more time at the first one than intended due to losing touch with my riding partner who I thought was behind me but had actually gone ahead. Ah well, it was a rest stop at least.
A friend of Martin, who was the person riding with me, was in the race category (40 – 50 age group) and did actually qualify at 3 hours 40 mins.
My official chipped time was 6 hours 10 mins and 14 s! Not earth shattering but not bad for an old bloke who makes too many excuses for not riding his bike…
Ride details below: