Tour of Wessex

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Matthew Hunt

MJH_Fitness

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Tour of Wessex

Last week i set out on my first ever cycling event, The Tour of Wessex. This is a 3 day 335 mile cycling sportive. The axis point of this event is the pretty village of Somerton. Held every Spring Bank holiday weekend since 2006 it is considered as the pinnacle of achievements for cycling enthusiasts. This is in part due to the 20,000ft of elevation which you have to climb over the 3 days.

I travelled down on friday afternoon with my brother in law, Justin Green, a regular cyclist who has completed several sportives himself. We would meet his regular cycling partner Duncan Ryan down there.

Due to typical Bank Holiday traffic we arrived at nearly midnight at our accomodation. Not ideal preparation. Prior to this event my cycling experience was limited to about 10 rides over the last 10 months, with my longest time in the saddle 2hrs 30 and 44 miles covered! Needless to say i was a little concerned as to how i would cope with the next few days. I was hoping that my marathon training would stand me in good stead.

Day 1 dawned and we set off on bright sunshine although there was a chill in the air. Riding in a big Peleton was knew to me but soon picked up on the various signals given from riders in front to warn of holes, slower riders, parked cars or oncoming traffic. I also noticed how much easier it is when you are getting pulled along in the draft. This would all change when we hit the climbs of Chedder Gorge and King Alfreds Tower. I have never experienced hills of that grade and length. Luckily the feed stations were situated just after these 2 challenges. Myself, Justin and Duncan re-fueled and carried on to complete the 107 miles of the first day. The scenery was amazing and although the hills were tough on the way up, they were great fun on the way down with speeds in excess of 50mph.

By the end of the day i was shattered. 5 hours sleep on the first night and a ride of over double the length i had ever done before had taken its toll. I went to bed at 8.15!

I woke up the next day and felt much better. After a good stretch the legs came back to life and i was looking forward to the challenge of another day climbing the hills. Day 2 presented itself with the same challenges as day 1 but, by this time i was starting to feel more comfortable on the bike and learning how to ride better within a Peleton. Justin was suffering with a sore throat and was feeling the pace so myself and Duncan shared the work load at the front to give him a bit of a break. We completed the 116 miles but again i was ready for lots of food and an early night.

Day 3 was more of the same, only this time, we had 10,000ft of climbing to do rather than the 5 that we had done the previous days. The weather had also turned with overcast skies and a strong wind. As we got to the top of Porlock Toll Road and turned to cross Exmoor the wind was really strong. We all worked welll together to get through it. Justin was still suffering. The downhills were immense. Duncan was the king of the downhill and was fearless as he came past me like i was stationary.

The last few miles were a push for us all. 3 days of hard riding and the headwind and hills of the last day had been a real test for all of us. We crossed the line happy that we had completed one of the toughest sportives. I had suprised myself how well my body had adapted after little training and running a marathon 4 weeks prior. It was a great experience and one that i will definately do again.

For now though im taking a bit of a rest and then im looking forward to focusing on my running again with some races planned which will lead me up to the Peterborough Half Marathon.  

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

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Tour of Wessex

Last week i set out on my first ever cycling event, The Tour of Wessex. This is a 3 day 335 mile cycling sportive. The axis point of this event is the pretty village of Somerton. Held every Spring Bank holiday weekend since 2006 it is considered as the...