Cyclo-Sportive: Cotswold Spring Classic
On a damp and chilly 8am start on Easter Monday, there were over 350 riders rolling out of Cirencester on the second edition of the Cotswold Classic Sportive.
I was cycling with two club-mates and we were doing fine at first. The trouble started when we were passed by two mountain bikers, doing a steady 22mph - on full-suss bikes with knobby tyres - for mile after mile with a comet-trail of roadies (including us) hanging on behind. Turns out they were national-level riders, training for an off-road race in the Rockies. They were certainly making mincemeat of the Cotswolds.
For us mortals, the route got tougher as we wound northwards on quiet lanes, cutting across the grain of the landscape, meaning lots of scenic Cotswold valleys, but lots of climbs and descents, too. The big groups divided, and divided again, so we were rarely more than four or six-up for the rest of the day.
By about 70 miles, my legs were feeling very tired so I was glad of a quick refuel at the feeding station near Edgeworth, especially when we came to the steepest hill of the day.
This was a real grinder, and quite a few riders had to get off and walk up it, however, we kept pedalling, especially as the official photographer was on one of the corners.
The last few miles were mercifully with a tailwind, and I completed the course in about 6hrs 3min. Given the hills, and the chill wind, I was pleased with that.
The Cotswold Spring Classic is a great sportive. Organisers Andy Cook and Andy Kirk said: "We aim to provide all the trimmings of a big event - full signing, well-stocked feeds, escort motorcycles - without losing any of the friendliness of a small event."
I'll vouch for that.
Richard Buckley (38)
103 miles in 6hr 20min
"This was tougher than last week's Cheshire Cat but interestingly I wasn't as tired at the end this time. I think that was thanks to a lower average speed today."
Jo Allen (33)
103 miles in 6hr 54min
"I started cycling in 2008, and got straight into sportives. In 2010 I'm cycling 10,000km for charity (www.thinkpinkcycling.com) and today was excellent training for that event."
For more information visit www.cotswoldspringclassic.co.uk