Sunday, 16 June 2013

Into the valley of death rode the 650

 Yesterdays epic navigation exercise paled into insignificance compared to today's task which was to complete the Shropshire Highland Challenge, a 65 mile sportive with killer climbs and deadly descents. I started off happy enough after joining a queue of mamils and mawils that collectively looked like a train wreck of transvestite guppies with every garish colour on display including some individuals dressed as malt loaf wrappers and jars of marmite. Despite the unforgivable fashion statements out on the road it soon got very serious and  I only managed to grab a few shots of this physical test as every ounce of effort was required to stay upright.
 This is nearly the top of the 20% climb from Church Stretton, it was at nearly the top I had a bit of a to do with a van who wanted my road space so as he was a lot harder than me sat in his van I gracefully conceded and was forced to stop. That's my story anyway. I wasn't blowing bits of lung out of my nostrils at the time and grateful for any chance to stop. The stats on this ride were as impressive as the organisation, 65 miles 6500feet of ascent, 3856 calories burned, average speed only 11 mph but as some of the hills slowed the pace to 4mph and the descents were full of ruthless sharp bends, cars, potholes, kamikaze sheep and offspring and sudden turns off to another direction pace could not be picked up.
Not by me anyway.
I felt like Billy no mates as various cycling teams raced past me, or I past them, and out of around 650 riders I finished in the top 100 after 6 hours 13mins including stops. The only way I think I could have been faster was to lose three stone, get an engine and know the route off by heart as nowhere along the entire 65 miles were there any indicators as to direction, hence my 67 miles as I had a couple or three minor scenic detours.

Finally I made it back to the start in time for tea and medals. I learned a lot today, mostly how horrific sweaty men look in lycra.

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