‘Brutal’ seems to be the word I heard most in the finish area of yesterday’s FT Sportive, the first in the series of four events I’m doing this year in aid of the NSPCC. The weather was against us, with gusting headwinds and chill temperatures – accompanied by occasional light drizzle just for comic relief. The course was tough: 166km through the Surrey hills, with more than 2,000 metres of climbing, combining seemingly-endless rolling hills with several longer, steeper sections. Although Box Hill gets all the press, in my opinion Pitch Hill and Combe Lane (at the 90 and 100k marks below) are both harder; they’re certainly steeper.
My own ride wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped – I started too fast and used too much energy fighting the wind, so the back half of the ride was about gritted teeth and heart-rate management. In the end I got round in 7h dead, with just under 6h 40m of moving time. That’s a good hour and forty minutes faster than last year (although last year I did get lost and do an extra 10k…) but still well over the time I was hoping for. Maybe if the conditions had been better, or I’d found a group to ride with rather than doing it largely solo – the cyclist’s book of excuses is a long one.
The full Strava log is here: http://www.strava.com/activities/139967328
Anyway, I made it round, which is the main thing. The focus now is on training for the Tour of the South East. This is a two-day event, so managing an effective recovery between the stages will be key. I’ve not done two hard days back-to-back before; of course in the Alps in July it’ll be four days, so I need to get my head around recovery strategies.
I’ll send another update in June after the Tour. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who’s donated so far and please continue to support the work of the NSPCC however you can.