Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Tour de Yorkshire - May 2015

On 3 May, five intrepid club members, Alanssandro, Carlos, Joaquim, Stewie and Jan, took part in the Tour de Yorkshire Sportive.  Unfortunately Heyddie and Alberto had to pull out because of injury, or did they study the route map and weather forecast better than the rest of us?

Stewie was elated he had found his shirt (it was in his kit bag all the time) but then forgot to bring his race number and timing chip.  The return trip to Leeds meant we missed some essential carb loading at the pub on Saturday night.

We got dropped off on Sunday morning at Roundhay Park in torrential rain.  The team looked very smart wearing our team wind jackets over our waterproofs but by the time we reached the start we were already wet and cold.  It looked like most of the 6000 entrants had not been put off either and we set off in groups of 50 at 4 min intervals which meant there were lots of cyclists all around us for the whole day.
We started with a descent into Wharfedale and a nice flat ride for 15km westward to Pool to where the fun started, Pool Bank our first Cat 3 of the day. From then on we didn't see a piece of flat road until we got back there.  The climbing and descending was relentless 3 Cat 3’s 3 Cat 4’s and 4 Cat 5’s with lot’s of short sharp ramps in between.  The descending was as difficult as the climbing, the roads were greasy and with riders of different abilities around us we had to go down the hills only marginal faster than we went up.  There lots of spills and the sound of the sportive will be remembered as the wail of ambulance sirens, fortunately we all managed to stay upright. 

At the first “feed stop” all the organisers had laid on was cold jacket potatoes, a tray of salt, jelly babies and some digestive biscuits.  An antique shop owner took pity on the poor shivering wrecks arriving and was making cups of tea which she gave away along with chocolate biscuits. We gratefully consumed these in her shop trying to keep warm and dripping all over her floor.  We all vowed to go back and spend some money some day as a thank you.

At Howarth we joined the professional race route and from then on had to keep up the pace to avoid the sweeper van clearing the road of the wounded before the race arrived.  This is a village which boasts two climbs.  Alanssandro asked how come a village is built in a “W”, the answer is because there is nowhere flat round there.  The first hill is the cobbled high street which featured in the Tour de France last year and the Tour de Yorkshire this year.  After a short descent you are then faced with Cote de Goose Eye which I can’t find words to describe, if you watched it on tele it’s the first one which got all the pro’s out of the saddle.
Club secretary Jan powering up Howarth High Street to the yawns of the crowd
Lots of spectators and bunting now so we put on a brave face, at least the rain had stopped.  Fast-ish decent into Airedale and then over some “bumps” back into Wharfedale. The road through Addingham was closed to traffic so we sprinted through to the cheers of the crowds pretending they had come to see us.

Outside the town on the A65 the sponsors, Maserati, had set up a feed station with mini Yorkshire puddings stuffed with sausage and onion jam, and flapjack - much more like it.  We stuffed down as many as we could before we had to move on, conscious of the sweeper van.  

Then through Ilkley where they had barriers up to stop the crowd mobbing us and asking for autographs - “look there’s a team with their names on”.  Just outside the town is the Cote de Cow and Calf which being a KOM climb had helpful signs telling us the distance to the summit.  Great, apart from the “summit” wasn’t at the top of the hill.  We resisted the temptation to remonstrate with those shouting that it was all down hill from there when we knew we had to get back out of Wharfedale.  Next the long slog up the Cote de Otley Chevin, by the top we felt like we had been "boiled in a bag” so stripped of the waterproofs despite dark clouds.  

Back down to Pool and a flat run along the valley until the final climb.  This 17%+ proved too much for most with 10 walking for every one riding, some too stubborn to unclip and get off just fell over in the road. Stewie and Alansandro then set a fast pace on the run in and at the finish Stewie who had “saved himself” on the hills out sprinted Alanssandro (who had waited for him at the top of the climb so honours even I think).  The crowds banging on the boards up to the line made everyone put in a last effort and smile.

A great adventure with all agreeing it was the hardest 100k they had ever done but a great experience riding part of the tour route with all the bunting and the crowds. They are going to do the same thing next year and I will be back but I hope they choose a flatter stage.

Stats of the day - 110km, 2000m of ascending, average speed 19 kph, nearly 5 hrs in the saddle, a lot of bruised egos and sore muscles but no lasting injuries.

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