Monday, May 16, 2011

Etape du Dales

I always seem to be more apprehensive about this event than any other. I am familiar with the severity of the route but add in the invariably poor weather and it can be a painfull day - and as I watched the weather deteroriate over the previous week I wasn't happy.
Even opting for knee-lengths and long sleeves it looked like overshoes and gloves were in order - rolling out with Neil and Robin, Grimpy having failed to re-appear after confessing to some difficulties in the toilet department. Richard elected to do his own ride and 'enjoy' it. Joining us was Roger Palfreeman who some may remember from his early days in Calderdale - his close encounter at speed with a sheep down Blackstone Edge was a memory that kept coming back on some of the days hairy descents.
Despite the cold and wind it wasn't bad on the road with Fleet Moss, Buttertubs and Low Row not so exposed to it. Tan Hill got harder as we dragged the usual accumulated group of 20 or so up that long and exposed hideous road.
Despite making a quick stop at Tan Hill for a sarnie we were cold by Keld and faced the delights of Birkdale Moor as a light rain started. At this point Robins legs decided to give out and he silently disappeared. We expected his appearance at Nateby after his usual manic descending but with no sign - and also no reports of an incident, we pushed on with Roger who set a blistering pace up to Garsdale as the wind came to our backs.
Thankfully Roger caught his wife at the feed station and opted to ride back with her so Neil and I tackled the Coal Road in the mist and rain with Neil now complaining about cramp, amongst numerous other things. Through the mist I could see Peeps in front climbing strongly so I pushed on,
hoping that under 7 hours was still possible for a Gold.
The wind was kinder down Ribblesdale and a belting tail wind over to Halton Gill and down Littlondale helped me back faster than last year with Neil in not far behind for Gold as well.
Robin rode back with Roger and wife - and Roger, being a sport doctor explained that Robin's leg problems were due to him running in a race last weekend - I don't think that diagnosis required a doctor !
Nice to see Pete and Mick Collins at the finish - they had a civilised ride to Feizor Tea Room - now that seems a wise way to spend a Sunday !
Fastest - Harrogate Nova Trio - 6.20
Mel - 6.41.39 14th / Neil - 6.49.07 23rd
Robin - 7.07.20 / Peeps - 7.42.18 / Grimpy - 7.48.14 / Richard - 7.54.53

Grimpy's First Sportive - THE TRUE STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From the man himself

A bit of a start cock up been up all night unable to go to the loo
Finally made it after long delay at start following signing on and then returning for my tag.
Having missed all the fast star club members I start on my own around 8.05 deciding in my state to see how i feel and if possible enjoy the countryside on roads new to me.
I had leg warmers 2 undervests, a jersey, arm warmers, overshoes & 2 gillets + mits ( no gloves- mistake) but I was still cold.
A number of fastmen passed me and I decided to latch onto a group led by a young roadman from I think a Fred Minter Club?
Bronze legs, shorts looking cool as we approached fleet moss he was overheating so he removes his top jersey on the move whilst wandering from side to side -- I couldn't believe it? Then ahead of us one rider just fell off his bike for no apparent reason maybe he missed a gear
I took it steady down fleet moss and never saw this group again.
As an aside I was surprised the number of riders going back to grassington all the way from fleet moss to buttertubs many just in jerseys & shorts?
I took a short break at Hawes you then climb Buttertubs and at Low Row take a left up the first steep climb.
A few were walking but I managed ok decended to the ford and walk over the bridge.
Then it was upwards & onwards to the top of Tan Hill into the headwind. Dave Smith explained to me a week earlier that it was a long drag, your not kidding.
Stopped for some food waiting in line for promised hot goodies.
But after sometime the queue didn't subside so eventualy i grab a banana and proceeded on my happy way. What a view?
Took it steady down to lower ground the weather began to get better? it started to rain, i stopped at the village before Nateby to gaze at the water cascades ( quite impressive)?
I then latched onto a group with there own support vehicle, the vehicle kept stopping to take action shots asking me to politely piss off which i duly did.
Three miles before Nateby I noted that we entered Cumbria,
At Nateby you turn South to begin the return to Grassington with a nice cross wind and heavier rain (the least scenic section)
I arrived at the Moorcock Inn check point (69 mile ?) to be greated by nice ladies with sandwiches; scoffed them and set off again.
After a short distance the turn off to Garsdale Station appeared --whoops this looks steep, it turn out to be the famous coal road but it was made easier by the tail gale wind.Lots of signs advising you to smile for action picture. Sure enough at the top of the hill through the low cloud a camera man appears with what looked like a home made lens cover i duly smiled and slowed down so he could take two flash actions shots checking he got me I started the steep decent and as usual I was passed by serious descenders.
Up through the viaduct to Newby Head I pass a struggling heavy set guy in blue racing gear and then turn right into the head wind with rain driving straight through me, the temperature seems to be getting lower and I'm freezing.
To my amazement the guy in blue catches me and says do you know Ian Robinson? whoops he's on my wheel for the next few miles and as we take a left at ribblehead he apologises for not being able to come through - most unusual?
After over 60 miles riding on new roads i am am now on familier ground joining the three peaks route to Horton in Ribbledale.
First rise and the man in blue goes backwards I am then joined by a young scouser and we make tracks to Stainforth into more driving rain.
I arrive at Stainforth approached by tag collectors, these guys and girls are quick to take your tag to record your time but don't realise it takes this old bugger a minute to undo his zips to get to the neck holding tag. By this time I am shivering getting and turning blue, so this time its straight off up silverdale and thankfully its a tailwind all the way back.
I arrive at Grassington freezing find my car key with the thought of changing in the car but realise this is bad idea, I instead make it to the changing room to get an excellent HOT shower and at last by blood starts to circulate again and I'm in one piece.
So this is a sportive I guess, excellently organised, a bit like a reliabilty trial, without the need to check directions and with feeding spots.
Though to many its just a group race, well its an experience I hope the next time i'm in a better state an the weather is more like summer.
Can't say its worth £40 but what the hell its for a good cause.
The Condor stars & friends did us pround getting under 7 hours in those conditions - rock on.
Special mention to Neil who says hes only been on is bike twice in 2 weeks and thats on the Thursday pub run. Also to my age group
Dave smith who did i think a 7.30, peeps who only starting riding again seriously 2 years ago? not forgetting Richard who like me went round on his own but unlike me as done less ridding recently

Generally observations

A number of young girls