King of the Downs

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Unfortunately, this is not the triumphal write-up I was mentally preparing the week before the event: my first DNF in a sportive, thanks to a broken spoke on my Campag Neutron Ultra rear wheel at exactly 4 hours into the race.This is a tough one – 113 miles, 10 big climbs, and 1000 riders, so plenty of quick boys. Here’s the profile:

KOTD western loop.

KOTD eastern loop.

I didn’t have an ideal lead-up to the event:

  • the Wednesday before I woke up with a swollen throat and a temperature. I had Thursday and Friday off work, but basically willed myself back to some semblance of health by Saturday afternoon.
  • I had 3 hours sleep the night before (nerves, anticipation?) – a record low for the night before a sportive.

Had I been 100% physically, the spoke would have been gutting – as it was, pulling out was a mix of disappointment and relief.

Jon B, Jonny and I started late-ish (7.30), began briskly, then moved up the gears. We hammered the climbs, and nobody passed us for the whole of the western loop. I was alternating between feeling quite strong, and then queasy with tiredness. At the midway feed station some fast lads – including a very classy young rider in Cervelo kit – hooked onto our tail, and the pace increased a notch. I moved off the front and tried to chill in the draft, but the two Jons, seemingly not content with our speed, had decided to race Cervelo and his buddies.

At a traffic hold-up, the Jons opened a sizeable gap between me and the Cervelo crew. We chased, with me hanging on the back. Another red light, and then it was me and one other pretty strong rider, doing through-and-off together, trying to claw back some ground. Now when I was on the front, I started to feel a hollowness where strength should have been. We reached the foot of the Wall, and my spoke went.

So unfinished business in KOTD – definitely one for next year.

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