It’s been a while since my alarm clock has gone off at 5am, especially on a Saturday. I was up early for the Cobbler Classic sportive, part of the Ordnance Survey Spin Series organised by UK Cycling Events.
With the car already packed, it was a quick breakfast and coffee before heading out the door, as I sat in the kitchen eating my porridge I could hear the rain hitting the roof of the conservatory. All the weather forecasts I had looked at hadn’t mentioned anything about rain, it was supposed to be sunny all day!
It was just after 5:30am when I left the house in the pouring rain. Whilst it’s only an hour and half drive to the start at Turweston Aerodrome near Brackley, there are roadworks on the M5 with recent night closures and I’ve been caught out like this before so I left with plenty of time to spare in case I needed to take the back routes.
As I got closer to the venue the rain eased off and the first signs of daybreak appeared on the horizon. At first it was a narrow glimmer of red and my thoughts turned to “red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning… I hope it’s not going to rain all day”. 10 miles further down the road, the rain had stopped and the tarmac was dry. The red morning sky was replaced with, rather appropriately, a brilliant swatch of Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Orange as the sun tried to break through the clouds.
I had arrived early, which gave me plenty of time to sign in, using the quick and easy registration process, to get my rider number (1537) and helmet timing sticker.
As I came out from registration I met fellow OS #GetOutside Champion Karl on his way in for what would be his first sportive on the build up to his amazing 100 Peak Challenge in 2017 – I urge you all to follow the link and take a look at his plans and the challenge. Hopefully, you will be inspired to donate.
I was riding with my friend Jeremy, who had arrived shortly after me, he had stayed in a local hotel as it’s a three and half hour drive from Devon. Soon we were at the start line ready to go and listening to the important rider briefing.
It was dry and overcast with a chilly breeze in the air as we left the aerodrome. It wasn’t long before we had warmed up and were riding along quiet hedgerow lined lanes in the gently rolling countryside, through villages lined with stone buildings and quaint thatched cottages.
As we approached Silverstone (the village not the racetrack) a lovely 1961 Bentley S2 Continental ‘Flying Spur’ gracefully rolled past us in the opposite direction.
The first feed station was a welcome sight at the 37 mile mark, my feet were rather cold by this stage. Even though the stop had allowed my feet to warm up it was still overcast, but there were some promising looking patches of blue appearing in the sky. Although unfortunately it was not quite warm enough to pack away the windproof jacket.
As we left the feed station behind us we spotted the Hellidon Radio Tower on the horizon, over the next few miles it grew larger and larger until, close to the Warwickshire border, we turned left and past it as we headed south.
Rounding the radio tower had turned us into the wind, whilst this made it slightly harder to cycle the wind was doing a fantastic job of blowing the clouds away. By the time we reached the second feed station at Chipping Warden there was more blue in the sky than cloud and the sun was shining. Time to pack away the windproof, although I kept the arm warmers on.
Both feed stations were well stocked with energy drinks, water and plenty of food available. The flapjack and jelly beans are a staple of my cycling diet, as I prefer them to gels. I was particularly impressed with the choice of Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Jacob’s Cracker Crisps as an excellent idea to help riders replace sodium/salt lost through sweat on the ride.
From feed station two it was a gentle 16 miles to the finish line in gorgeous sunshine and at times not a cloud in the sky.
We crossed the finish line with a cycling time of 5 hours and 31 minutes, not our fastest pace but we both have a 100 mile sportive next weekend and I have my London to Paris ride at the end of the month. So it’s more about endurance and time in the saddle than outright pace.