On the road to Cycle Derby Sportive

Alex Lloyd's Training Diary

Spring 2017

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On Sunday 23rd April, Geldards are entering a team in the Cycle Derby Sportive - Spring Classic, with the firm also sponsoring the team challenge. The sportive offers 3 routes – 40km, 80km and 160km.

I have opted for the 80km route, and it was about 8 miles into the first training ride that I started to question why I had decided to take part. Up until that point it had all seemed like such a great idea. As someone who runs and plays football relatively frequently, and so has a modest level of fitness, I figured that 50 miles gambolling around the Derbyshire countryside on a bike wouldn’t pose too many problems. How naïve I was.

The warning signs were there. The previous day, I had picked up a package from a local delivery collection point a few miles away. This had been a good opportunity to re-acquaint myself with cycling on the road – plus I wouldn’t have to worry about parking. I successfully navigated traffic lights, mini roundabouts and potholes. My confidence was growing, but afterwards I did have some aches and pains from muscles that were not used to being exerted, and were tentatively reminding me of this. Foolishly, I did not listen.

The next morning, my other half suggests upping the ante a bit – why not cycle out to a café in the countryside? It is a relatively flat route, plus this place apparently sells excellent chocolate brownies. 20 miles there and 10 miles back. What could go wrong?

Well, as it turns out, many things. My lack of both weather appropriate and activity appropriate attire (more specifically, padded cycling shorts) was a problem. My calf muscles burned almost incessantly, and every section of poorly maintained road surface was a fresh challenge. At one point while I was halfway up a small hill (known in cyclist parlance as a ‘lump’) I managed to jam my gears and topple over, no doubt to the amusement of the driver of the car behind me. However, the second training ride was more of a success. Determined to show the sport of cycling that I’m not a quitter, I successfully climbed Brill Hill in Oxfordshire without stopping (although some of the locals did give me a bit of a funny look). There is an old windmill at the top, and the views were fairly spectacular.

I started to appreciate why proper cyclists choose to do this on a regular basis. For a not unreasonable amount of physical exertion it allows you to escape the city and see more of the local area. They’re a friendly bunch as well – every cyclist we passed greeted us with a nod and smile. Despite my early travails, I am greatly looking forward to the sportive. It’s unlikely I’ll be doing it at any great pace, but it appears that isn’t really the idea. With any luck, the weather will be pleasant and I’ll be able to complete the course without any further mishaps!

For more information regarding the Cycle Derby Sportive - Spring Classic taking place on 23rd April 2017, please take a look here.

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