30 Mar 2016
The Cotswold Spring Classic Sportive 2016
My introduction to group cycling
It was 7am on a bank holiday Monday. It was dark, it was raining and it was cold. As I unfastened my bike from the back of the car my fingers went numb, like when you scrape ice off your windscreen. The difference was, that when you’ve de-iced your windscreen, you generally get to warm up in the car. What lay in front of me was over 100km of cycling with over 1300 meters of climb that is the Cotswold Spring Classic Sportive.
I did not want to do it, in fact all I wanted to do was go back to bed, where it’s warm and (usually) dry. This was a paradox. Whilst it’s true that I did not want to take part due to the elements, I also did want to take part, because I didn’t want to not take part. Make sense? Experience has taught me that my own self-flagellation for not doing something is usually more severe and lengthy than the actual thing itself. So I did it.
After a few kilometres my heartrate was sufficiently high enough to stave off any feelings of cold, with the exception of my feet, which got progressively number throughout the day.
It took me 4 hours and 10 minutes. I didn’t enjoy all of the event, and at times I was a little bored, but I’m glad I did it and they gave me a really cool medal!
The angry lady
Shortly after setting off, a middle-aged woman in a turquoise Fiat 500 found herself in between a group of riders on a narrow road. After about five minutes the woman suddenly swerved and braked, halting her vehicle so it became a makeshift roadblock. Everyone who was riding behind her had to come to an abrupt stop. She emerged from the car red faced and clearly angry. “Stop” she shouted, as a couple of the cyclists attempted to squeeze past and continue their ride. “You boys are all over the road and a couple of you were right up my bottom and I didn’t like it!”. I resisted the urge to say something like “well, it’s not everyone”.
The sad metaphor
During the first large climb a number of people got off their bikes and pushed. One of these people was a man with a tandem bicycle…on his own. Had his partner pulled out at the last minute? Maybe he used to do the sportive every year with his wife until she tragically passed away and he was using the tandem as a tribute to her memory? Or, perhaps it was just his only bike?
What I learned
2,350km on the indoor trainer had prepared me well over the winter, which is why my legs could have done it again by the end. It was the severe pain in my arms which made me glad to see the finish line, which doesn’t seem right. I think a professional bike fit might be a worthwhile investment before my next lengthy outing.
The hills were pretty brutal, largely because my bike wont shift onto the bottom ring. Also, the declines were a bit dicey on account of my brakes needing adjustment. Perhaps it’s time I learnt some basic bike maintenance.