The online cycling experts at ProBikeKit.co.uk are running a cycling blog post competition between 07/02/2014 and 14/03/2014, where they have asked bloggers to tell a cycling related story – This is my entry.
It’s that time of the year when I begin to think about what Sportives I’ll be riding later in the season. It is also a time when the weather is at it’s worst, so right now I’ll sit back with a brew and reminisce about last year…
On Sunday 16th June 2013 I took part in The Williams Farm Kitchen Challenge, a 60 or 100km cyclosportive in and around the flatlands of Holderness in East Yorkshire.
Along with my trusty ‘super domestique’ Marvin, this is our first sportive of the year. Having begun training back in April, this was a chance to test the old legs and as we were both brought up in this neck of the woods, taking part in a truly local sportive was very appealing, so we opted to take on the 100km route – the longest ride either one of us had ever attempted.
This was a small sportive, with only 200 places available, organised by the same people who run The Big G, another much larger sportive held in East Yorkshire in July every year – so communication was good, once registered online, the instructions, course maps and gpx files were all made available in good time, which is always appreciated.
The sportive HQ was located at Hornsea Freeport Shopping Village on the outskirts of Hornsea, a small town on the East Yorkshire coast. Although we chose to ride from the town centre to the start, the shopping village location provided more than ample car parking for the 200 cyclists taking part in the event.
Within the main courtyard of the shopping village the organisers had set out a market stall and were taking registrations / handing out rider numbers, as well as *somewhat bizarrely* the finishing packs, which was okay if you had a car, however we hadn’t, but luckily one of the organisers helped us out by putting the carrier bags to one side.
When I finally got to the front of the queue it turned out that somebody had already registered under my name, so I had to take a reserve number and keep my fingers crossed that they didn’t have an accident, as their ride number was linked to my emergency contact details.
At the main entrance gate the organisers had set up their start and finish post. Using a Sports Solutions App to log each participants start time, we were shepherded through in groups of 10 and after a few minutes waiting in a queue, off we rode…
Hornsea Freeport to Honeysuckle Farm
As we rolled over the start line onto Rolston Road, Marvin started chuntering on that he wanted to get a good lead out on a Strava segment close to Honeysuckle Farm, so taking on the ‘Renshaw’ role I began picking up the pace as we rode through the town centre and onto Seaton Road.
About three kilometres into the ride the course demands a right turn across potentially heavy traffic onto Bewholme Lane…and the start of Marvin’s Strava segment.
Luckily as we approach the junction the road ahead is clear of traffic, so we cross and I put down the hammer, passing a group of bemused cyclists, as I’m determined to give Marvin the type of lead out that even Cav couldn’t moan about. The road ramps up slightly, nothing at all spectacular, but steep for Holderness, I continue to push hard…then out of the corner of my eye I see Marvin overtaking…he’s gone too early…and so it proved, by the end of the segment at the farm, I had almost caught him up!
Honeysuckle Farm to Skipsea Brough
Gathering ourselves after the Strava induced acceleration, we settle down to an easy pace, averaging about 16mph as the flat rolling roads pass peacefully under our legs – This first part of the sportive is quite easy and the only issue we found was the mud on the roads from the heavy overnight rain.
Embarrassingly we take it so easy on the first few miles that we eventually get caught up by the group of cyclists we’d overtaken on Bewholme Lane, never a good thing for a cyclist pride, especially when one of their number was riding a hybrid!
Approaching Bewholme the roads aren’t in the best condition, but at least the weather is good and the legendary cross winds are non existent.
Pushing on we approach Skipsea Brough when Marvin slips his chain, just in front of the first photographer, and we have to stop for an enforced break, not the best start to the day, little would we know that this was a taste of things to come.
Skipsea Brough to Catwick Hill
Marvin soon gets back on his push hog and we try to make up some lost time, we had set ourselves a target of four hours before we set off so time was of the essence.
Leaving the small hamlet the route veers South, turning onto Dunnington Lane, following more rolling roads and past the villages of Dunnington, Nunkeeling and Catfoss – nothing spectacular, but tricky in places due to the narrow lanes and muddy surfaces.
As we leave Catfoss the road ramps up in places, eventually rising to the junction with the B1244.
Catwick Hill to Rise Hall
The crossing at the bottom of Catwick Hill can be busy at times, but Lady Luck was for once on our side as we make the crossing without any delay and pass a couple of cyclists, which is always good for morale.
The road to Rise Hall begins along Catwick Heads, which is typically flat, before moving onto the B1243, which is more rolling than flat and is a welcome tonic to the flatter first 20km of the ride.
As we approach the gate houses to the old hall entrance, we turn left on to Rise Lane and cycle past Rise Hall, a Georgian stately home recently renovated by Sarah Beeny & Graham Swift and used primarily as a wedding venue.
Rise Hall to Burton Constable
As we continue our journey we begin to pick up other riders, soon we have a small peloton forming and as we’ve ridden for so long as a pair it was nice to get a rest amongst the pack. The roads now are more rolling than flat and at this stage my legs were feeling sore from the constant pedalling, never getting a rest due to the lack of down hill.
We cycle along Rise Lane before taking a right onto Lambwath Lane, finally getting to travel down a slope to the junction with Beverley Road, which then climbs steadily into the village of New Ellerby.
Passing the Railway Inn public house, before taking a left hand turn, we cycle along a narrow country lane towards the hamlet of Marton, we are now in an established group of riders, made up of a certain local cycling club who like to cycle on Thursday’s, not that we are made that welcome, they make several planned attacks to drop us, but we just sit on their wheels and their efforts make our journey all the more easy and faster!
Soon we approach the woodland surrounding West Newton and enter a clearing which gives the most wonderful vista of Burton Constable, an Elizabethan Mansion and local tourist attraction.
Unfortunately the peace and tranquility is broken by the sound of another slipped chain, this time it’s one of the cycling club members who have to pull over…it was honestly quite difficult not to laugh! Alas, the last laugh was on me and Marvin, as this released the stronger riders and within a mile we were dropped and back on our own.
Burton Constable to Winestead
Eventually we reach the outskirts of Humbleton, a more technical section of the ride, with numerous twists and turns, before reaching Danthorpe Road, the exit to the village. Still tired from trying to hold on to our cycling ‘chums’ wheels we take the opportunity to ease off a little and the speed drops to a more sedate pace.
Before long we reach the outskirts of Burton Pidsea, roughly half way into the 100km sportive and we are flagging, the weather is getting warmer and we need a rest – the feed station can’t come soon enough.
Unsurprisingly for two biggish lads, this subject of food and drink now dominates our conversation, led by my moaning if I’m honest. We continue on along Green Lane to the junction with the B1362, another relatively flat country lane, but made all the steeper by my fatigue.
After a while we pass the village of Halsham, but still no feed station…
…on to Dalton Lane…
…then Southside Road…
…the rolling roads eroding any strength I had at the start of the ride.
At this stage I was desperate for a break, but we pushed on in the hope that behind the next corner we would see the feed station, yet it never seemed to happen.
The mind does funny things when you are tired and dehydrated, this section of the road seemed to last for ever, it didn’t, it’s just that our pace had dropped.
Taking a right hand turn onto Chimney Field Road, we enter the shade of hawthorne hedged fields and the change in scenery is a welcome distraction.
In the neck of the woods the roads are flat and fast, so entering Winestead Lane we pick up our pace, negotiating the tight turns before reaching the junction with Bydales Lane, where we turn left and as if by magic *if not a little too late* the feed station appears!
Winestead to Roos
At the feed station we climb off our push hogs to get a drink, a piece of flap jack and, more importantly, a well earned rest – it’s quite hot at this stage and we take care to refill our bottles.
A couple of things strike me at the feed station, firstly how many big slabs of flapjack there were, it tasted as good as it looked too, it was extremely good if not a little too sticky!
The second thing, which puzzled me, was how the bloke who had a mechanical at Burton Constable could be sat down on the grass verge, having arrived at the feed station before us, yet never having passed us?
I’ve checked the map since finishing the ride and there is no apparent short cut, so he must be a magician or we weren’t paying attention!
Finishing off our food, we bid the feed station farewell and set off along Arables Lane and the start of the final 40km.
The rest does the trick, picking up our pace and before long we are gunning along the flat fast roads, until we reach the junction with Frodingham Lane, which I miss completely and Marvin riding on the outside doesn’t…
Marvin hits the deck hard and I just about hold on, cycling into the opposite verge.
I unclip and rush over to Marvin who’s lower leg is by now covered in blood, I help him to his feet, but his first concern is for his trusty Boardman, which is fine apart from scuffed bar tape and a slipped chain. I’m more concerned about his road rash, it looks sore and I feel terrible for causing him to fall, after all I took him out by missing the turn.
As Marvin sorts himself out, I see a large group narrowly avoid a similar crash when one of their number also misses the turn – The sign for the left hand turn was on a blind corner and after the ride we were told that a few people had incidents at this spot.
Irritatingly, yet unbeknown to us, it turns out that the crash occurred on the door step of The Great Newsome Brewery, brewers of some most excellent real ales and ironically a known antiseptic for road rash!
Tentatively we set off again, Marvin nursing himself through the first few kilometres, but for me, feeling guilty, I just lost all enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get back to base – I just felt so bad for my lack of concentration causing the incident and it unfortunately ruins the remainder of my ride.
The next few miles are a blur, I don’t remember too much, I guess I just felt sorry for myself, whereas Marvin *fuelled on adrenalin* pushed hard and even managed to get on the back of some triathletes as they raced in perfect formation into Roos – whereas I just dropped further back…
Roos to Aldbrough
Cycling out of Roos along Rectory Road, Marvin drops back to give me a tow, it’s very welcome as we cross Burton Road to reach Aldbrough Road, where the wind is picking up – We take turns to draft along the long straight, picking up a few cyclists along the way.
Before long we have a healthy group of six or seven riders, most of us are knackered and I unashamedly hide in the pack as Marvin and a cyclist from the ’41 Club’ drag us from the corner of Quaker Road, past Owstwick, then Fitling and finally to the outskirts of Garton – All flat narrow roads, but leg sapping and done at a good pace.
Turning back onto Aldbrough Road, Marvin once more hits the front, but feeling refreshed I give him a rest and hit the front, finally getting my second wind. Keeping the tempo high, we ride along Garton Road and finally into Aldbrough, not far to go now…
Aldbrough to Hornsea
Aldbrough, around five miles from the finish, is the home of the only hill *if you can call it that* on the whole route, it’s a roller coaster ride which drops from the top of the village then ramps up for about 150m, blink and you miss it, but with around 90km in your legs you certainly feel it – I did, but I made it look easy for the photo opportunity at the top!
Once at the top of the hill we round a corner, leaving Hornsea Road and joining Withernwick Road, not quite the home straight, but near enough to think about the BBQ and beer at the end.
Approaching the village of Withernwick we notice our peloton is missing the cyclist from ’41 Club’, I’m not sure where it happened, but I wished he had stuck on our wheel as he helped us all out when we were suffering it would have been nice to return the favour.
Something else happened as we passed the old school, we overtook that bloke from the cycling club again, but both myself and Marvin swear blind he never passed us once, yet we passed him three times!
Cycling through the village, we exit by taking a right onto Great Hatfield Road, then half way along Marvin has his third and final disaster, a puncture! The poor bloke, he’s had it all, so we stop, thankfully before long we are back on our way, however morale is now at an all time low – This was meant to be a swift 100km, but we’ve managed to make a day of it.
We drag ourselves along the remainder of the back roads until we reach Great Hatfield, turning onto Mappleton Road, a shallow 2.5 mile rise up to the coastal village of Mappleton. We make our penultimate left hand turn to join the B1242.
The final couple of miles are a time trial, we swap turns at the front and cover the distance to the hamlet of Rolston quite efficiently. The finish is in sight and we follow the rolling roads into Hornsea, passing the golf club, then making the final left hand turn into Freeport Shopping Village, finally crossing the finish line.
According to Strava we have covered 60.8 miles (97.8km) with a total moving time of 3hrs 51mins 58secs, however the total time including our feed station stop *plus the chain stop, the crash and then the puncture* was 4hrs 13mins 33secs, not a bad effort after all, covering the distance at an average speed of 14.4mph.
The best part of any sportive should be the ride itself, this should be a mix of a sense of achievement along with the memories and stories you gather along the way, which we had, however the best part of The Williams Farm Kitchen Challenge was the post ride BBQ!
It was truly awesome, maybe it was the fact we earned a good feed, but the smell of the fresh burgers and sausages was brilliant, it tasted as good too, I even got an extra sausage, all washed down with a pint of Wold Top Hello Vélo – Other sportives could do well to incorporate such a fantastic meal at the end of their rides.
This sportive was never meant to be that tough, but it was my first metric century and the rolling nature of the terrain left me with sore knees, something I hadn’t reckoned on. This, coupled with the three enforced stops, made for a tough day overall.
The route itself was a mixture of exposed flat and rolling roads, it may not sound worthwhile, but the point I’d make is that you never really get the chance to rest as you might on a hilly course, as there is no down hill, so it’s essentially 100km of fast pedalling – Ideal for early season training and the reason I’ll *probably* be back next year.
As I alluded to in the write up, the first half of the ride was more enjoyable than the last due to mine and Marvin’s coming together, after which I took my bat home and couldn’t wait to get back to base. However, I soon perked up when I saw the barbecue and Wold Top!
The food and booze at the end was fantastic and I should also note that we were especially grateful for the flapjack at the feed station, which was lovely and gooey, I suspect it contained 5% oats mixed with 95% syrup!
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