The Dartmoor Classic Cyclosportive 2008

On Sunday, Doctor Bike (Andy Sinclair) and I completed the Dartmoor Classic Cyclosportive 2008. Yippee!

It was bloody hard, partly because it was so hot, partly because we hadn’t done nearly enough training, and mostly because I weigh so much! If there were prizes in the Over 100Kg category, I reckon I would have placed pretty well. I might even have won.

It was a beautiful day, and the whole event was impeccably organised. So smooth, in fact, it reminded me of a Chain Gang bike tour (sic). We had to cycle 100 miles around and across Dartmoor, setting off at about 8.00 am on Sunday morning. To my astonishment there were about 2,000 riders, split between the 100 Km and the 100 Mile event. We had timers fitted to the front wheel of our bikes, rider numbers attached to the handlebars, it felt very professional.

It reminded me a bit of a period a few years ago when I entered a few aquathlons (swimming and running). You have a number written on your leg, and it’s difficult to wash off. So for a few days it’s like a badge of honour if you’re wearing shorts or swimming: “I compete. I’m a racer”.

The illusion only ever lasted until my first stroke, but you could see some people a week later who had obviously gone to great lengths to make sure their competitor number hadn’t rubbed off. Part of me wanted to keep my rider number, 1262, on my bike, but by the time I got to the train station to come home I was just too embarrassed. Anyway, it felt great for a day.

The scenery was just fabulous. We started off cycling north from Kingsteignton toward the first control at Okehampton at the beginning of the Granite Way cycle path. Then we skirted the north of the moor ending up at Lydford Gorge, cycling down the west side of the moor towards Tavistock, a murderous slog up to the 2nd control in Princetown before making our way back via Two Bridges, Dartmeet and Haytor.

Here’s the route in full. Note that with a total ascent of 3,368 metres that’s slightly more than cycling up Mont Ventoux twice on the same day, so I don’t feel too bad about feeling a little bit tired.

You’ll see that me and Andy finished nearly last of the finishers. I’m not sure it’s meant to be a race, and we certainly didn’t treat it like one, but I’d like to mention a fantastic performance by John Nolan, aka The Cannibal of previous blog postings.

You’ll get some idea of why Andy and I found it difficult to keep up with John on the hills when I tell you that John was the 12th finisher on Sunday, in a time of just under 6 hours. And this is a very hilly day, I’ll tell you.

On the last day of our Tuscany cycle tour there is a particularly nasty hill between the Abbey of Saint Antimo and lunch at Bagno Vignoni. Sunday was like riding up and down that hill all day long. So under 6 hours is a bit special. Over 9 hours suggests a particularly leisurely approach to proceedings, but we had a really great day.

A brilliant ride John, hats off to you. And thank you to the Mid-Devon Cycling Club for a fantastic day out.

We’ll be back, Doctor Bike and I. I’ll be competing firmly in the Under 100Kg category, and who knows, we might just try and threaten the 8 hour mark.

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