Monday, 11 June 2012

The Gold Standard

The past three weekends have seen the Tour de Mercredi out in force, and the results of the Winter training are beginning to show.

First off, Mr Lover Man has completed the epic Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride for his given charity. Having been there, I can appreciate what he has put himself through. Whilst there are no medal standards for such a ride, I can state with certainty that he deserves a "Big Brass One" to go with the two he already has.

In terms of Sportives, the TDM hit the Wheel Heroes in force with 6 riders out. 5 of the 6 came back within the fastest 20 times of the day, with The Rhino lagging behind in 30th place having wrestled with a puncture on Edge Hill.

With no medal times on offer for the Wheel Heroes, it would have been interesting to see how everyone rated, but the training is obviously paying off well. Not only that, but everyone appears thinner and lighter than at the start of the Winter, and this is also being reflected in the times.

So, onto the Circuit of the Cotswolds, some 102 miles of quite the best countryside the centre of England has to offer. And Bushcombe Lane as well.

With posted climbs of Lark Stoke, Saintbury Hill, Bushcombe Lane, Corndean Lane, Brockhampton, Compton Abdale, Yarnworth and Northleach, together with lots of rolling stuff in between, this ride is a fat bloke's nightmare. Not all of the climbs are steep, some just seem to go on forever, but Bushcombe Lane is evil. Posted as being 25%, it seems much steeper than Mow Cop, which also claims that gradient. What's certain is that it is 25% for much longer, and much further into the ride.

Consequently, of the three riders from the TDM out on COTC, only two rode up Bushcombe Lane, the Rhino resorting to his usual less-than-brisk walk. By that point, Brett and Marcus were long-gone, already some 12 minutes distant by Winchcombe, half-way through the hilly stuff. With cramp an ever-constant companion, the elderly Rhino was comparatively going backwards by this point.

By the time the final feed came around, and having seen few riders since walking up part of Corndean Lane too, the Gold Standard, some 40 kilometres away, required an average 25.5kmh. Some 1 hour and 25 minutes later (an average of 28kmh) the Rhino's first Gold was in the bag. Marcus and Brett had already been back for a beer's worth of time, their bottles almost empty.

Thankfully, like the Etape, COTC recognises age bandings, otherwise Gold would have been impossible for me to achieve, but I am almost old enough to be Brett's dad.

At this point it is worth noting that the other two also achieved Gold, Brett posting the day's fastest time ahead of even the Team Zappi's riders, who had paced each other all the way round. Brett had done it all on his own, including pulling the group to the first feed station for considerable distances. CHAPEAU!!

The Medals Table

Tour De Mercredi  - Gold 3    Silver 0      Bronze 0

How chuffed am I?