Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mad March Hare Sportive

Oo, the pressure, an event where I'm up against recounting the same event as two fellow bloggers.  Still, I'm going to do it blind (I mean without reading their's first rather than closing my eyes whilst I type), and tired, so we'll see what the outcome is. 

Mendip Rouleur and I were discussing the future of sportives on the course today (he, The Cycling Mayor and I trundled round pretty much together, apart from the last couple of miles; more on that story later), and I was expounding my theory that whilst they're mega-popular with the carboned-up, all-the-gear-and-very-little-idea, Sunday-cycling-is-the-new-golf set, I just can't see the current popularity lasting more than another couple of years, 'it' being folk paying upwards of 25 squids to ride on on open roads, albeit with feed stations, timing chips, and so on.  I think there's going to be a move to either/or some combination of: a move to closed roads and higher fees, lower fees and fewer fripperies, or more multi-day/weekend events.  I just think things are going to evolve as people tire of the current format.

Today's sportive hit the middle one of those changes - a small fee (a tenner) but no timing chips (it was old school timing with a clipboard and pen), only one feedstation, though that was stocked just as well as its more expensive sportive cousins, and no sag wagon.  That said, there was free tea and coffee at the start and finish, plus a bacon roll if you could be bothered to queue.  Signage was fine, there was a route sheet, so tell me - what, really, are you getting for an extra £15-20 for the other sportives.  Iconic routes?  In some cases.  Bigger fields?  So what.  Feeling like a racer as you roll over the timing mats?  Please.

This wasn't supposed to be a rant against other sportives - I just wish I could predict with more clarity which way it's going to go, so that I could make some money out of it, but change it will.  Back to today - a nice route through the south midlands and north Cotswolds of Worcs and Warks, very little main road other than to shuttle you to the next lane, pretty good road surfaces all things considered, and, eventually, some lovely early spring sunshine.  I was disappointed to only go past the signs for, rather than through, North Piddle, though this was a minor letdown. 

What turned out not to be a letdown at all was curbing my usual instincts to hop on the back of the first fast-moving pelOton that comes along, and wave goodbye to my cycling buddies till the end - it was most convivial to ride largely together, and have a bit of a chat with the Mayor as well as MR.  In fact, it was quite novel to both drive and arrive home not feeling wiped out.  I like it, but I'm not sure I want to make a habit of it.  Talking of driving home, what a completely chilled experience that was too.  No rush, plenty of sunshine, Radio 3 on the sound system.  Law Number 23 I'm going to make when the masses acclaim their true saviour and sweep me to power - everyone has to drive round with a nice bit of Handel in their ears; I'm convinced it would make a major contribution to no road-rage.

And finally, those last couple of miles.  I went off ahead of my riding colleagues with about 3 miles to go, and had finished, had a coffee, basked in the warmth, and read the first half of War & Peace before the Mayor turned up, sans MR.  He'd broken a chain, or jammed it, never did the full diagnosis, so had to go back down the road as a temporary broomwagon.  Technically a DNF, but I reckon it's like the TdF where if you fall in the last 3 km you get the same time as the group you were in at that point.  See that, me being nice?!

A catch-up on training progress next time.

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