Ian Piper writes about The Tour of Exmoor Sportive:
Having never ridden a sportive before this was a whole new experience. The options were 56, 80 or 97 miles, the 56 seemed a bit like bottling out and as I have only averaged 110 miles a week for the last 4 weeks the 97 was out of the question so I opted for the 80. Interesting set up once you have your number and electronic timing chip you can start by just riding off over the timing strip anytime you wanted between 8 and 9am, no groups starting together or anything remotely like a reliability trial. Oddly enough at the event I met a rider from the training camp I went to in Mallorca, we never rode together out there as he was in the fast group and way too fast for me to have any hope of staying with. He was doing the 97 miler with his team mate but I decided that they could be a good back wheel for the first 15 miles until the 2 distances went in different directions. Theory was good as we soon started to do what they referred to as a steady through and off, I never missed a turn but I wouldn’t have called it steady nor would the 40 odd riders we must have passed in 15 miles, 3 tagged on and did between 1 and 3 turns before they were shelled out the back. That was then the end of any assistance for me, from 18 to 53 miles I never met another rider. I got into a near time trial rhythm and just put my head down, great idea that was until about 60 miles when I started to suffer, the last 10 miles were hell, cramp behind the knees up hills in the saddle, cramp in the front of my legs out of the saddle, feeling sick and very light headed. I eventually finished in 5 hours 7 minutes which included a 1 minute stop to fill up my drinking bottle and 65 miles on my own but I had no idea if that was a good or bad ride, it did qualify me for a silver standard medal. The only thing I knew was that nobody had passed me not even when I was doing a near walking speed towards the end. The results were published on the Sunday and now I feel very happy probably in no small part to the fact that I don’t feel like I’m about to die anymore and even more by the fact that I was the fastest rider by 38 minutes and the only one in the 80 mile distance to qualify for a silver standard medal. Across all three distances only one rider qualified for a gold medal, he was in the 56 mile event, I was the only silver with the rest getting bronze. The rider from Mallorca and his team mate came in first and second in the 97 mile event. It was an interesting route but it was seriously hilly with 8,800 foot of ascent according to my computer, 9,990 feet according to the organisers, hilly who ever is right so no surprise really that I blow up big time, 5 hours of constant effort, average heart rate for the whole ride of 142 bpm and just over 1,100 foot of climbing every 10 miles.