It turned out to be a great decision. The weather was amazing: Saturday was warm and sunny and the rain forecast for Sunday didn't arrive until after I crossed the finish line. Perfect :) As well as great weather we were also treated to some brilliant riding: the 150km road course looped around the stunning Welsh countryside, taking in some nice climbs including the Horseshoe Pass, while the 80km MTB marathon course was full of variety, sending us up some challenging climbs and fast, fun descents.
Not known for making life easy, I decided to ride the Sportive on my MTB with slick tyres. It didn't seem to be too much of a disadvantage and I soon dropped Dave ;) It was a really relaxed atmosphere and riders could set off any time between 8.30 and 9.30am. After a bit of a leisurely breakfast we left the start at 9ish, the downside of this was that once Dave dropped off the pace, I spent the rest of the ride alone. After a short stop waiting for a heard of sheep and one feedzone stop - where the Marshall actually filled my bottle with my preferred flavour of Torq energy! - I arrived back at the finish after 4 hours 53 minutes.
At 10am the next day we followed the lead car for a 5 mile neutralised start to the MTB marathon. After racing outside of the UK for the last few years and experiencing neutralised starts in a variety of countries, the UK gets the award for the most sedate neutralised start that I've ever experienced! I didn't fear for my life once! Amazing. No crashes, no handlebar tangling, no elbows, no skidding and no swearing either ;) Swiss rider Simeon Niederer set a fast pace as soon as the lead car pulled away and he maintained his lead until the finish. Werner van der Merwe and I swapped positions for couple of hours but he punctured on one of the best fast, rocky descents of the day meaning that I rode alone for the last couple of hours. After 4 hours 7 minutes I finished 2nd overall - including the men - and 5 minutes behind Simeon.
|Feedzones stocked with Torq was a nice touch|