Sunday, 4 May 2014

First sportive of the year, first century of the year, Gran Fondo 5 completed and a load more stuff on Star Wars day

Due to a convenient family situation I had today all to myself. I'd signed up for the Squires and Spires a few weeks back as a Sportive I heard good things about but it was 'only' 75 miles, so why not ride there and back plus a little bit more for the 100.

The scene at the start in Naseby

From the start this Just Racing event felt well set up. Our only mistake after arriving early to register was to wait until everyone had used the toilet before joining the start queue. At the registration I caused chaos. They called out A to K this queue L to Z the other queue. So I moved into my queue and told Andy Brown 'A to K,' that queue. He thought I said 80k that queue and stood with me. As I explained his error 4 or 5 other blokes joined him agreeing 'I thought he said 80k too!' People continued to discuss this outside, that bloke said 80k when he meant A to K etc.

All tooled up with his gel utility belt

I took this pic of a classic Bianchi

As usual there were some serious machines on view. Bianchi, Pinnarello, Van Nichols etc. my favourite of the day was the classic steel Bianchi above.

Quick pic with Pete and Nic

Cycling is about friends. I have some friends who also cycle and some friends I've met through cycling. Nic and Pete fall into the first category. Andy Brown and Paul Kelf are friends I met through cycling and we 3 amigos were the C&DCYCLES representatives for the day. They were superb to ride with. We worked as a team on the flat bits, at one point leading a long train with no other riders assisting. On the hills where Paul is strong and Andy is immense they were kind enough to wait for me when required. However my downhill specialism caught me up often, especially in the first half of the ride.

Today's food sponsors was Ultimate Sports Nutrition, USN. I picked their blue drink which we dubbed 'smurf juice,' because it matched Clive. I'm sure Mrs Lindsley will approve. Their other stuff was good, the nuts and grain bars were delicious and I like the mocha caffeine gels. My only gripe in the whole day would be at the second food station they'd run out of everything. There was plenty of food but no sports stuff. My remark that Hi5 wouldn't run out was not well received! Smurfette did however replenish the blue drink and we got a recovery drink at the end.

The Squires and Spires is so named because of the number of stately homes and church spires that dominate the landscape. The most famous big house being Althorp, the family home and burial site of Princess Diana. There are too many others to name in one blog when there's so much else to say.

Althorp pronounced Altrop by no one except BBC Look East

To the ride. It had a fast start with a descent of the hill from Naesby towards Guilsborough. It continued this way as we seemed to go downhill all the way to the first feed station at 30 miles. Our average to there was over 17mph. It was lovely to go through places I rarely ride. I was planning to check out the outer limits of Northants to the South and West but this ride ticks that box. Downhill all the way to Woodford Halse it felt and then it became a lot more lumpy. From the last feed station at Althorp it changed to brutal. The hills into East Haddon, Ravensthorpe, Coton, Guilsborough and out of Holdenby were granny gear specials and the cramp warning signs started. Then with only a few miles to go we went up Haselbech Hill. Ouch! Paul Kelf got off and walked until he saw a photographer and manned up! Andy was out of site when I was only on the foot slopes. With all that done they chucked us up the second hardest hill into Naseby to finish. Naseby is on top of a hill thats why Fairfax viewed the battle from there. Anyway we'd done it. A nice greeting, a recovery drink and a t-shirt was a good way to finish the Sportive bit. Needless to say the average was no longer at 17mph. A really good Sportive and I feel a good showcase of our beautiful county and excellent cycling.

Haselbech Hill

Andy and I still needed to ride home and I need a few extra miles to top the ton. It was hard! The euphoria of hitting 100 got me home and then as I pulled into Rothwell I met a man on what looked like a racing folder bike.


It was the bike above, a Dahon TT. He rides it in time trials and is amused that he's never the slowest entrant. The blokes name was Rob Draycott if anyone knows him. He told me he also used to ride another 16in wheeled bike in Time Trials, the Moulton Major.


All very interesting and frankly, blog worthy overkill on a day with so much else to say!

I'll look out for the official photos from today and may add them as a separate blog. Right now I'm knackered and I believe I deserve a beer.

Happy Peddaling


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  2. Well done Richard - sorry I couldn't join you. I've got a Dahon Speed TR, which I'll take on a shop ride one day