MONDAY, JUNE 15

The Dragon Sportive

Another great weekend, followed by creaky knees and sore glutes on a Monday morning...

It's only the third time I have ridden my road bike this year. Could have been a mistake!

Saturday night and I got invited out for a meal with the team from Jim Walker, the Title Sponsors of IronHorse-Extreme. We had a lovely bit of Italian grub, cooked for us by an avid cyclist who was also due to ride the next day's Dragon Sportive.

It was a well chilled out night with like minded and friendly individuals. I didn't want to go home.

A bit more strangley though, was the fact that I was sat opposite a guy that I did my apprenticeship with (20years ago!) Hiya, Neil Craig, the bike shop owner from Llantwit Major.

I used to rip the mick out of him for shaving his legs, but how things have turned around...

Ian, John, Jaco, et al had the nicest bikes I ever saw, and my jealousy shone through as pure lust. I had time to look at them closely because they managed to get me right to the front of the start with them and other VIP's.

It felt good, but scary with 3000 riders behind us.

The hooter blew and off we set. At the first roundabout one of the marshall motorcyclists pulled off and turned left off of the roundabout. He did this at just the wrong time, and everyone followed him...

...in diametrically the opposite direction to that of the route.

One guy fell off, because he got a bit excited and pulled over onto gravel. Ouch.

So we turned around and got back on the course, laughing at the jolly jape that the marshall had caused. Of course we were all sheep and kept following him, and some other riders, off of the course. Idiots.

I had had a fantastic idea on the previous day. We knew that it was going to be warm, so I froze my camelbak.

It was still 1/2 full and frozen when I got home that night, and had sat high on my back like a rigid sail for the first 15miles.

Camelbaks don't defrost that quickly-- Note to self.

We got to the first climb and I caught up with one of the Jim Walker boys, but was quickly breathing out of my ears as he sort of cruised off. I would catch him up on the flats and the downs, but lose out on the climbs. This happened for 4hrs and I was starting to get a bit disheartened by it...

...Maybe my legs are still shot from the 12hr solo at Bristol last week? I feel rubbish, my legs feel empty. Why are these guys just riding off and leaving me on the hills?

I tried to stay in a group of 10 or so riders, but struggled to keep up as it was surging and stalling and not holding a steady speed at all. I lost them, and entered the above thought process again...

...What's going on?

I waited for the next group to catch me up. Same again. They dropped me and my legs started to feel like they were turning inside out. Then something funny happened. A guy called Rob Lynne (I remembered his number and checked up on him) passed me after Fan Gyhyrych. He has these big scary, veiny, muscley legs and a little body. A switch flicked and I managed to follow him all the way to the climb that takes you to Glynneath which was probably a distance of 10-12 miles. The average speed went up to about 22mph, and my body seemed to wake up and decide it wanted to cycle--4hrs in.

Thanks, body. Next time, set the clock properly.

I said to him, "I'd love to take a stint in front, but I can't, you're killing me!" He laughed and said not to worry. Thank goodness for that!

When we got to the climb, he left me at a heck of a rate of knots.

I caught up my 2 peletons, and worked my way through them. I took my stint on the front for about 2 minutes and looked back to say I was peeling off...

...They were gone. I'd dropped them.

I'm feeling better now. Everything changed from that point and I could manage to stand up and run on my pedals, passing people that had passed me earlier, and their groups. I was on my own though, with no groups to follow or get assistance from.

Billy no-mates, me.

I think Jaco, from Jim Walker was 4th place finisher. Crikey! He wants to come out mountainbiking in my local area, so I need to think of some excuses to get out of it. He'll kill me!

I can't wait to see the photos that Ian's photographer got!

Obviously I have none. I was a bit busy.

Cheers All!
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