Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Giants Causeway Coast Sportive 126km

Saturday 17th September 2011
The Giants Causeway Coast sportive 126km 1,367m

The first Giants Causeway Coast Sportive happened at the weekend. I decided it would be good to take part as training for the 24hour Adventure race in October. Rather than using the road bike I decided to use the Mountain bike.
The Sportive had three different routes 180km, 126km and the 56km. 126km was a good distance for me because I could take it easy yet still enjoy the route. We started in the town of Ballycastle on the North Coast of Ireland. The weather was looking good but the forecast give rain for the afternoon. I was ready to start but my friend was still only at the registration tent. The sound went for the start and the riders started pedaling. The last of the riders pedaled away from the start while I waited on my friends. 5-10mins after the first riders left we started straight into a climb. After we got warmed up we started to push a bit. Catching the first of the back markers really give my friends a bit of a boost so we pushed on faster. By about 20km into the route we had passed a lot of people and started into the first climb. Most people slowed but we got the heads down and pedaled hard up the hill. At the first food stop I wanted to keep going as there was a lot of people stopped. My friend needed the toilet so we stopped and I took some cake and bananas while I waited. We left here for a very fast descent. The marshals were warning riders of a wet part of the road but at 75kph on Mountain bikes we werent slowing for anyone. We past a lot more people on the descent as the road was very wet and a lot of riders slowed in the bad conditions. The weather was still dry for us but we could see rain on the next glen.
We got back to almost sea level before starting to climb again. A long road climbing for about 10km up through the valley above. The route was amazing some great views and being on the Mountain bike I was able to get a good look around as we pedaled. The next section was on a slight downhill but into a head wind. We had caught up with another friend on a road bike and he let us draft behind him. I think this is the only time I needed to draft going down hill. It really helped though and meant we kept a good pace to the next food station. We stopped here for some more fruit cake and bananas. Again lots of people were taking a long stop so we got out ahead and got pedaling. Another short sharp climb before we got to the highest point. The road here was flat and long. We both had pushed hard and were starting to feel it. Rather than burning up we took a quick stop for some energy gels and a drink before we started again. Thankfully from here we had another long descent back to sea level and the coast road.
We stopped for a short time on the coast road to get some water. The road had a bit of a head wind so we took it in turns at the front for a bit of drafting. This road took us around 20km of coastal road by the sea. A flat road but with the headwind we didnt get much of a break. We had another climb and descent before the next stop. At the last stop I knew we had the big climbs coming next. The famous Torr road is a road with short very steep climbs. We took a longer break here knowing it was our last stop before the finish.

There was a lot of tired people at this stop. Everyone had heard it would be a tough section but I think most people didnt realise just how steep the climbs would be. The first climb we reached I counted 5 riders walking in front of us. We took it easy but stayed on the bikes. After the first climb there was a really fast descent. Again a lot of riders took it slow as they were getting tired. The next climb started at the bottom of the descent with no break. I kept the bike in a big gear and pushed hard up the climb again passing riders walking.
The route was perfect because the road was quiet of traffic and we could push hard both up and down. On the last climb and probably the steepest a rider past me getting out of the saddle he was pushing hard on the hill. I was very comfortable so pedaled along side him. When he pushed I pushed I smiled across every time he tried to get away. I was getting stronger as he was tiring and eventually he stopped falling of the bike being sick. I asked if he needed anything but he said no. I continued to the top were more people congratulated me for pedaling all the climbs. I slowed the pace at the other side until my friend had caught up and we pedalled strong back to the finish line. Riding a Mountain bike on a road sportive was not the best choice of bike for speed. For training it was perfect and really give me a work out. It was a long day in the saddle at around 6 hours 25mins. A great day and great training for the 24 Hour Adventure Race.

A video from Saturday