London Cycle Sportive

It was time for Mr Smith’s second sportive, another one around the 100km mark.  All this in preparation for Ride London 100 (miles), find out how it went…

The first thing to do before the sportive was to prepare.  Breakfast, bottles and gels ready for a 5am alarm call.

After a good stretching session in the morning, and of course breakfast, it was time to hit the road.  Bike loaded and off shortly after 6.  The destination, Dulwich for The Telegraph London Sportive.

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All eyes were on the weather, would it hold out and be good, or would the black clouds ruin the day?

Turning up at Dulwich College it was 50/50 so a quick change and a warmer top put underneath the cycle jersey.  This was definitely needed at 7:30 in the morning, but would it be too hot later in the day?  Mr Smith would prefer to be warmer than too cold.  So all set and heading to the start.

A short ride down the road revealed a mass of cyclist preparing to head off for the long route, 100 miles!  For Mr Smith it was the medium route at 104km.  Turning in to the start area it was easy to see that this was a much bigger event than Beachy Head, but all of this is good preparation for the biggest of them all.

It was not long before Mr Smith was in the start funnel and ready to go.  The pre ride briefing was given and they were off.  Mr Smith knew that the first part of the ride would be tricky as it was very urban and that he would just have to live with the traffic lights, not ideal, but needs must.  It did mean that the first part was not easy to get in to a rhythm and the average pace was a lot lower than Beachy Head, but it was also more uphill.

The group was thinning and not as effective as Beachy Head, but Mr Smith was feeling strong.  He had started several waves back, but was really enjoying catching people and overtaking.  Much more fun doing that than being up front.

One thing that was obvious in the first hour was that Mr Smith had not calibrated the gears correctly, despite preparing them the night before, and could not get granny gear to work.  The solution, keep going to the first feed station and try and quickly sort them.

This was not hampering things and the power was going down and Mr Smith was riding away from people.  The riders he had been with were behind following a good bit of descending and Mr Smith just kept going.  He could see them in the distance but they were not bridging back.  All of the small groups in front gave good targets and Mr Smith kept picking people off.

Heading up the hill to the first feed station Mr Smith was preparing to sort the gears.  Taking on water and trying to get them sorted he headed off.  He thought he had them done, but no, even worse.  After a couple of miles Mr Smith pulled over again and finally got them sorted.  This is one of the perils of constantly changing the wheel for the turbo and them being electronic, but after this tweak they were sorted.  This had to be done before getting to Box Hill for the longest climb.

After some good chasing back to riders that had gone past, Mr Smith was ready for Box Hill.  Despite living fairly close he had not ridden it before, but was looking forward to it.  Arriving with a small group of riders they turned off the dual carriageway and started the climb.  As they turned on to the zig zag road there was the start of the timed climb.  At this point Mr Smith was just going to get in to a good rhythm for the whole climb, but some riders basically attacked it from the bottom.

As expected the road was busy with riders out on their Sunday rides, but luckily Mr Smith did not get held up and was really pleased going up at a good pace, clocking an official time of 8:31, which would have been about 17.5kmh over 2.5km.  Mr Smith is not a climber, but all of the threshold and power workouts have really helped.  Pleasingly this felt comfy, which is not bad after 60km, and although Mr Smith knew there was a feed station at the top he just powered over the top and kept going.

This was going to be the good bit where the pace could be picked up and hopefully increasing the average speed.  The run from Box Hill to Chipstead was good and catching up with another rider going at a similar pace helped, with them both going through the Chipstead timing point side by side.  Then disaster, pulling off at a mini roundabout Mr Smith asked for the gears to do too much and the chain jumped off.  Another minute or two lost.

The question now, what to do, take it easy or chase back?  Obviously, chase back! Eventually catching back up with the guy he had been cycling with they headed back in town and hit the traffic and the traffic lights again.  They had also been joined by a few other riders and when there was a stretch of no lights they were cracking on, but sadly Mr Smith had a moment where he lost the back wheel, just as the wind picked up.  That was it, he was off the back and no chance of getting back.  The pace and the effort were there, just the draft had gone and they were going for it.

Oh well, keep cracking on. Sadly the last 15km were quite fiddly in the traffic and basically hitting red on most of the traffic lights.  Lots of stops and starts and a few run ins for some of the cyclists with drivers on their phone or cutting across them, but they were near the finish line.

Would there be anything left for the lap around the velodrome?  Mr Smith thought there would be, despite it being an effort ride from before Box Hill to try and get a good time.  By this point Mr Smith was riding with a couple of other riders, one who had done Ironman in Barcelona, so was expecting him to blitz it on the track.

Then they were there, turning off the road and down to the track.  A few muddy puddles were not a great thing to have to go through before hitting the track, but luckily the tyres dried out just as they turned on to the track.  Mr Smith had backed off the rider in front and the Ironman was behind.  Having never ridden on a track before Mr Smith was looking forward to this.  Although he had not ridden tracks he has watched lots of track cycling so knew what to do.

As they came off the slight banking Mr Smith was asking the legs for power.  Both he and the Ironman were going down the front straight, with him taking the high line to try and get a sling shot off the bank, but by now Mr Smith was in the sprint lines and was laying down as much power as he could.  He was now gaining on the rider in front and there was no sign of anyone coming past.  Heading round the final bend and still firmly in the sprint lines Mr Smith was really giving it everything to the line, then that was it.  Lap over and dismount.  At no point on the final lap did Mr Smith drift out of the sprint lines, he was definitely trying for the fastest line.

That was great fun to do and the guy that was behind did say at the end that he was behind me and trying to pass, but he could not do it.  Mr Smith was very pleased.

Collecting the lovely bling and taking on some fluids Mr Smith had a bit of a relax in the track centre before heading back to Dulwich College to get the car.

It was a really good and pleasing ride.  Although there was not quite as much climbing as Beachy Head this felt harder as a ride, it was just under 8km longer.  A lot of that was down to the start stop nature of things though and also that there were lots of smaller climbs.  All in all it was 107km and the official time was 4:15:13.  However, the overall moving time was nearer 4:02.  The official average pace was 25.2 kph, but the moving average was 26.5, which feels good.

Not only was Mr Smith pleased with the time up Box Hill, but also the lap time of 41s, which, according to Strava, was 16th out of 414 today and only 5 seconds behind the quickest, and 6th of 87 in the middle age man category!

Author: The Mr Smith

Photographer, Gourmet, Cook, Oenophile, Traveller, International Athlete, Investor, bit of a Geek and observer of life

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