I thought long & hard before entering the Ripon Sportive never having biked more than 65 miles on a sportive did I be brave and go for the medium route of 75miles – at least a bit closer to the magical 100. The trouble was with the 1800metres of climbing involved. I finally decided to enter the short version 44miles – that’s only the 2 bridges length so I knew I could handle the mileage – but still with 1000metres of climbing, well it should be a challenge.
The first shock to the system was the 5:30 alarm call, I’m no longer used to getting out of bed at that unearthly hour. At least the day was warmish even at that time & with blue skies. An uneventful drive up to Ripon and I arrived before 8 o’clock, it was a bit busier on the way home! I followed the route to registration & couldn’t find my name on the entry list – I hadn’t realised there was a sprint distance triathlon on the same day & I was at their registration, oops. Found the sportive point & registered no problem.
I was away by 8:15 and heading into the unknown. The first few miles were what would be known around here as ‘rolling’, as I was later to discover that would probably be the flat part of the ride. Anyway the scenery was stunning from the off really – hills to look at – with a ride up through Studely Deer Park. Then came the first real hill of the ride and I was proud of myself on the first part passing a couple of people who were already walking. As I was getting to my limit the road flattened out but round the next bend kicked up again – I’m afraid that beat me & I had to walk a short distance. The downhill sections were certainly worth the uphill slogs but oh the wish for closed roads! The miles passed in a rolling fashion catching, passing & being caught & passed by the same rider several times. we eventually rode together for several miles having a bit of a chat until the (almost exactly) halfway food halt, he continued & I stopped for a bit of a rest. The food halt was a car in a layby with a table but had everything needed as in water, cheese & ham rolls, sausage rolls & high5 energy products. It was also on literally the only flat bit of road on the whole ride. If you weren’t going downhill you were going uphill!!!
A couple of miles after the halt came the village of Lofthouses with a turn off the main road immediately uphill onto the lower slopes of the ‘Cote de Lofthouses’. Going up this climb ultimately resulted in several periods of walking. I managed the lower slopes quite well & was at least still on the bike when the ‘Cote’ signage appeared on the hillside in the distance. A first walk ensued not long afterwards. As the slope eased off I attempted to get back on the bike for the first time & just as I got the second foot clipped in came to a dead stop and inevitably tumbled from the bike. Unfortunately I went right onto the tarmac rather than left onto the grass verge resulting in a scrubbed elbow, bruised hip but even worse severely dented pride!! A further walk ride & walk got me to a point where I could stay on the bike and reach the very top of the ascent for some stunning views across the Yorkshire Dales – big respect to all who managed to ride all of the way up and I know from Strava I wasn’t the slowest on the day going up there! the descent was something else. I saw 45mph on my bike computer and 69.8kph shows on Strava as my max speed, again a wish for closed roads as I had to be very careful round blind bends & round one I could see due to meeting a car in the wrong place.
The return to Ripon continued to be lumpy & I resisted the temptation to stop for a Black Sheep or Theakstons in Masham. Ripon arrived soon enough although a few of the main roads in were not in keeping with the rest of the ride. I arrived back at the finish gantry in an official time of 3:23:41 and an average speed of not much over 13mph but pleased to have made it round. A hilly route around Scunthorpe doesn’t have a gradient profile anything like this sportive so I was just pleased to make it round in mostly one piece leaving only a small amount of skin on the roads of Yorkshire!
At the finish of the ride was a small goodie bag with some High5 energy products & a plastic clip on rear mudguard(?), there was also a free sausage sandwich. All in all a very enjoyable day out and well run. I would recommend this event to anyone who wants more of a challenge or even just some different scenery, just be careful which route you choose. There is also a long route with even more climbing than the medium!!!!
Sorry for rambling so long – congrats if you made it to this point.