White Rose Classic

Well, that was tough! I'm definitely a bit undercooked in terms of fitness, but I had no trouble with this chest infection. It was my original intention to ride with my mates from the club today but in the end I erred on the side of caution and decided to ride at my own pace. I didn't want to get sucked along too quickly and then blow up in the middle of nowhere. There is a lot of adrenaline pumping when you ride in a group and it's very easy to get carried away. The downside is that I had very little protection from the fresh wind all day, although I'm well used to that. When I'm riding with my mates I'm usually hanging on at the back (well, they are all younger than me!), but today I found that lots of little groups formed behind me as I passed people and they grabbed my wheel. I rather enjoyed this, and a few did some turns to give me a bit of respite.

Probably because I'm so well rested from very few miles in the last couple of weeks, I felt quite strong in the first half of the event and my target of sub-8 hours for the 114 mile long route seemed easily within reach. But as soon as we left Hawes I started to feel weary and struggled all the way to Settle, not much helped by being stranded on my own for all that time. I was still overtaking lots of people but there was nobody on the road travelling at my pace. After the feedstop at Airton I also started to cramp up in the thighs and I thought I might be in for a gruelling last 25 miles. But the cramp soon passed, and from that point, quite inexplicably, I began to feel good again. All the way to the foot of the final climb over Langbar I was creaming along and that silver standard finish was back on.

Looking at the watch I seemed set to just squeeze under 8 hours as I hurtled down towards Ilkley, but then the signs took us left instead of straight down Monastery Hill to the finish, adding an extra mile and also putting the finishing stretch into the wind. I was gutted. Who came up with that cruel twist? Personally, I think the standard times should all be increased by five minutes to allow for the diversion and extra climbing at Hubberholme! I also would have made it but for stopping to take a few photos.

Actually, I'm not really that worried about the time and the blip stops were well worth the effort. I'm posting this one for TJ! This is the road from Settle to Airton and to the right in the distance can be seen the limestone crags that we walked under last Saturday. We didn't get to see them then because of the mist! The shot also gives you some idea of the roller-coaster nature of the terrain. It's like this all the way. The hills are utterly relentless. It doesn't matter what time you do, just getting around this course at all is an achievement to be proud of. Few people would even consider driving such a distance on these roads.

This event was organised by the cycling club here in Ilkley. Only formed just over a year ago, this is the first such undertaking by the club and, from my perspective, it was an unqualified success. Every aspect through registration, sign-posting, feed stations to the finish was quite exemplary. I must offer a huge well done to all the team. It's a massive undertaking. I have enormous respect.

Finally, thanks for all the great feedback to yesterday's Taking the High Road. It was kind of appropriate in respect to today's endeavour. I'm afraid I'm unlikely to have much chance to catch-up with anyone tonight. I feel more than a little zonked. Once again, I'm reminded just how much of a debt my journal owes to its contributors. For me, the comments make it so much more than just a photo and a journal entry. You bring it to life with your wit and wisdom. You are all such great friends.

Edit Note: I changed this to a colour shot as it is really a journal photo and I ended up liking this version more as a record of the event.

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