Unlike the last time I rode this event, this time I was riding with a few mates from work. Since selling my road bike some time ago I’ve not really had chance to replace it so I swapped the knobbly tyres off the Rodwell for some fast and grippy Michelin Pro Race 2’s.
We all met up in Grasmere ready for the 9am start but it was postponed until 9:30 due to ice on the road – well it was better than last time when the start was delayed by 3 months! The route had been altered at the last minute too, presumably to avoid a completely treacherous section.
As we waited for the start, getting colder and colder, I noticed a few other riders who were evidently in this for the ‘full winter experience’. One guy in our group was wearing fingerless gloves. Another bloke was wearing triathlon shoes with no socks. As if in an attempt to outdo the people riding full suspension mountain bikes in a 60 mile road event, one chap arrived in full GB kit astride a Specialized time trail bike – deep section aero rims, carbon tri bars, etc. He set off like a bullet but I expect it was a bit of a handful at times (maybe I’m wrong).
In contrast, the Rodwell proved to be just as good as my old road bike in events like this – surefooted going down, a breeze on the climbs, no noticeable flex when I ‘stomped’ hard on the flat bits but also all-day comfortable. Everything you want in a sportive bike really. Not bad for a bike apparently designed for 60 minutes of mud.
To start with I behaved myself. I rode with the group as much as possible, I even had conversations. Whenever I found myself a long way out in front I’d slow down or stop and let everyone catch up, then carry on the chatting. It was ace – I was able to look around, take in the scenery and appreciate the majesty of the lakes on a crisp winter’s day. I did put the hammer down on a couple of occasions, just before and straight after the tea and cake stop but generally I was a good boy.
At the top of the final climb in Grizedale I stopped to wait for the group and noticed that Nick wasn’t with them. Apparently he was last spotted dropping off the back of the group in obvious glycogen shortage. Knowing from experience how much worse hitting the wall can be if you’re riding on your own, I decided to hang about and wait for him.
Eventually Nick appeared. I asked him to eat all of his remaining food and we rode together to the finish, some 10 miles away.
We eventually reached the finish back in Grasmere 5 and a bit hours after we had set off. The last time I did this I finished in 3:23 including a cake stop. Still, it was a damn good day out.