My 5th time at this Sportiv was going to be a challenge having only regularly trained up to 27 miles in the few months before.
The Sportiv has 3 length options 30 (31.2), 60(63.3) or 100 (102) miles.
The 30 miler bypasses the challenging hills in the first 8 miles of the 60 &100, instead taking riders out in a different direction and onto the Dodingtin drag at 3.1 miles with an average climb of 5% and maximum 9%, with a feed stop at 18miles.
The 60 mile route takes you into a total of 3 significant climbs and shares these with the 100.
The 100 route takes you into 5 significant climbs including the Frocester hill which you hit at mile 62.
I had done the 60 route in 2014/15 and taken on the 100 for the last 3 years.
This year the organiser had arranged a closed road section for the first hill at mile 4.8 affectionately know as the Hawksbery Howler this formed part of a time trial for a Strava challenge, this has a maximum gradient of 14%.
On arrival there were no heroics from me, straight into lowest possible gear and grind my way up, for me the challenge is not about speed but managing to get up the b...y thing without unclipping and walking.
Second hill was at mile 7.5mile and called the Alderney Grunt. This hill had a maximum 20% gradient and an average 11% so straight into lowest gear accompanied by very heavy breathing, luckily both of these hills are short so the pain is only temporary.
The third hill comes shortly after at 7.9 miles and is called the Tresham Tester for a good reason.
This hill had a maximum 19% and average 7% gradient but was considerably longer than the first two at .81 of a mile.
Happy that I knew the first three challenging hills were out of the way I was able to relax in the knowledge that there was nothing too taxing until mile 51 and I was able to enjoy the scenery and beautiful if rather hot weather.
The first feed station comes up at mile 32, this event is organised by the lovely Rotary club of Chipping Sodbury and the stations are always well stocked with home made flapjacks, and cakes, sandwiches, chocolate bars, and a choice of drinks, it is all too easy to spend too much time enjoying these welcome comfort stops.
Just before the climb of the Nailsworth Nailer at mile 51 you descend steeply through the Nailsworth ladder, a series of alpine style hairpin bends that require in my case some heavy braking to keep on track and scrub off some speed, this year I was following a large white Range Rover down these bends who was descending rather nervously and I had to brake even harder at each corner to avoid running into the back of it.
This same car then decided to stop at the brow of the last descent to allow another large land rover to pass climbing the hill crossing the centre line. I had now run out of brakes so hastily unclipped and dismounted rather clumsily, scooting myself into the kerb to avoid them both.
Straight after this steep decline you face the Nailsworth Nailer and because of my dismounting I had started this climb with only one foot clipped back in.
This hill takes no prisoners on the first incline so I was praying that my foot wouldn't slip off the pedal as I slowly pedalled my way up, there is a small section that flattens off for a short distance and luckily I managed to get my foot clipped back in again before facing the rest of the climbs on this hill.The maximum gradient on this hill is 14% but at over 1.6 miles long it can feel like it goes on forever especially as it has several false summits a term that I hadn't come across till this little sod, it lulls you into thinking that you are just about at the top before throwing you another climb, and another, and another.!
Finally at the top the organisers put a sign up to tell you that you have actually reached the end of the climb and there are no more surprises around the corner.
Bit of a mental and physical battle from this point as it roughly another 10miles till the next major climb but you have now only covered around half the course it's 20miles since your last feed station and you know the next one isn't until another 3 miles after this challenging hill at mile 65.
I made sure I took a few gels over the next section in preparation for Frocester hill, another long 1.6 mile climb averaging 8% and with a 15% max climb.
For the first point in the Sportiv I was actually catching up with a few riders who had grouped just before this last major climb, most of these came flying past me later on but a few had dismounted on the hill and again another mental battle, they were obviously better riders than me being club riders so there is no shame in unclipping and walking the steepest bits surely?
This was now mile 61 so I was well over half way and I haven't unclipped on a climb as yet so just slog it out I kept telling myself, the demons in my head were having a battle but in the end the summit was in sight and I had made it, the fact that it was just another 3 miles to a feed station and an official stop also gave me a boost in moral.
At the feed station at 65mile I grabbed a cup of coffee and some cake and was off again thinking to myself that I would probably bypass the last station at mile 91 as it was so close to the finish, in practice I was so tired and dehydrated when I hit the last one there was no way I was going past and again refuelled with more coffee and cheese sandwiches.
The route was far from flat for the last 11 miles and it threw up a few more challenging climbs nothing named or too severe but at this point as I had been riding for the best part of 7hours even the small climbs were becoming more and more difficult.
The last mile was a nice downhill arriving back at the headquarters to the cow bell and medal, but more importantly a food voucher for pasty and beans.
For the first time I treated myself to a half pint of ice cold beer to have with my meal which I then enjoyed sitting outside listening to the live band that had been entertaining riders for a number of hours already.That first sip of ice cold beer was absolute nectar and tasted so good.
All in all another great event that was once again superbly organised by the Rotary club which year on year has added more facilities for riders and supporters, the signage on route meant that even I failed to get lost and it was nice to see a lot of brightly coloured bikes on the course showing support from the local community.
Posted on 08.08.18