A week last Sunday I entered the Kendal sportive, a very hilly 75 mile ride, partly to erase the disappointment of my first ever DNF ( Did Not Finish ) at Jodrell Bank.
The day started off as I expected, I set off with a group of my fellow COLTS and I was dropped on the long climb out of Kendal towards Kirkby Lonsdale. It wasn’t a vicious climb, more of a “this is going to take a while” sort of climb, you know – seated and sustained! I wasn’t disappointed to get dropped, I had my own agenda, it was going to be a long day, and I wasn’t interested in beasting myself to save some overrated male pride. Afterall in Lanza, I don’t expect to see any clubmates on the bike, they’ll be way up the road ahead of me. It’s all about me, myself and I as De La Soul would say.
I felt strong going in myself and climbs of Barbondale and Dent felt comfortable. Turning out of Dent and heading towards Kingsdale Head I was joined for a few minutes by Chris Lawson, my club mate and fellow nutter who is doing both Lanza and the Outlaw. Chris has made great gains this year, especially on the bike and I expect he’ll smash his pb that he set in his first Ironman last year at Bolton. We passed a sign at the side on the road that said “Don’t Look up”, the climb up Kingsdale Head had started. I’ve never seen anything so evil in all my time on a bike. The 25% gradient climb was torturous, it went on and on and on. Every time I turned a corner and hoped for some respite, the road just ramped up again. Chris blew me away on the climb but I just paced myself, passing people who had shot past me at the bottom and were now walking, bent double, holding onto their bikes for support. My lungs were bursting, my quads were popping and to be honest I couldn’t even pedal squares, but somehow I kept on my bike and kept moving forward at an average pace of 2-3 mph. The relief at the top was sublime and the view was simply stunning as I looked back down at the valley that I had just come up.
The long descent towards Ingleton was fun, spinning the legs out to get rid of the poison that had just engorged the muscles. I was joined by a guy also training for Lanzarote, he reassured me having done it last year that there was nothing as evil as that! Phew.
After a quick feedstop to replenish the bottles I started the long climb out of Ingleton towards the North Yorkshire town of Hawes. As I approached the wonderful RibbleHead viaduct I heard a sound I’d come to dread.
I pulled over and swore, my back wheel had lost a spoke. I was 30 miles into a 75 mile event and I was in the middle of nowhere. The wheel had been repaired and trued, I’d even done a hilly 5 hour ride on it the weekend before yet it was knackered!!! I stood there feeling like I was cursed. Learning from Jodrell Bank I had some gaffer tape with me and taped the spoke to its neighbour and jumped back on.
I rode on, steadily climbing. The wheel felt ok but I was worried it wouldn’t support me as I hit a very steep descent with hairpins. I had to stand on the pedals and throw my considerable weight on the back of the bike, whilst pulling on the brakes with all my strength to negotiate the gravel skimmed surface.
I then hit Dent for the second time and a 500m stretch of cobbles. This was the final nail in my coffin. PING. Another spoke had gone, and the wheel lost all shape as the rubber of the tire screamed against the frame. I was 50 miles in, there was no short cut, no support car and no mobile signal. Shit! Luckily a guy that I’d been riding with on and off caught me back up. His wife was in Dent with the car and a bike trailer. They took pity on me, he agreed I couldn’t ride on the wheel and his wife drove me back to Kendal and race hq for my second DNF in 2 weeks and a sobering piece of Deja Vu pie.
Poor Em must have thought I’d be a moody git by the time I’d got home ( I’d rang her ) but I wasn’t, what was the point. It was nothing I’d done wrong, just bad luck. Despite not finishing, I’d still ridden 50 miles and climbed 4500 feet, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. The wheel is now resigned to the garage and will be only turboing from now on, my new wheels have arrived but I’ve yet to sort them out. I rode the Roo this past weekend and it was bliss, more about that next time.
Apart from that, everything else is going great. Swimming well and my running feels easier and quicker.
In other news I found out last week that Ironman.com will be interviewing me out in Lanzarote in the days before the race, will be following my progress on race day and interviewing me when I finish. I laughed and told them that wouldn’t make pleasant viewing as I cross the line. Lets just hope there is no more Deja Vu.
Have a great easter everyone.