Here's one of our latest competition entries, 27 year old Jerry from Hampshire who's got a big sportive season planned.
After completing eight sportives last year I had decided on the Southern Spring Classic as my first of the year since it included many roads on which I learnt to ride as a kid. This year I am starting road racing so will not ride too many sportives, but since I cannot race the Tour de France just yet I am including La Marmotte and l’Etape du Tour in my repertoire.
April Fool's Day 2012 started for me at 07:00 when I arose for breakfast and a few last minute tweaks to my trusty steed. Not long after I was sprinting up the 1:8 hill on which I had grown up, I was late...as usual. 12 miles in 37 minutes later I was at the event registration in Liphook.
I had set myself a target time of 4 hours to complete the 73 mile course, this would require an average in excess of 18mph, which on hilly terrain was not going to be easy.
I knew the first descent was steep in places and the road surface was likely to present challenges. As I reached the bottom, I hit a pothole hard and yelped in pain, with lightning reactions I swerved to avoid two water bottles that had been shaken from bottle cages of earlier riders.
Not much further on a large smile came to my face, I recognised where I was, Hill Brow Road - a route I use regularly. Once across the junction I tucked into an aerodynamic pose, taking the gentle corners at speeds touching 40mph, full of confidence in my recently upgraded tyres and brake pads.
By 10.00 I was in Alton, we had been warned to be mindful of traffic but I found little about. I made good progress on the long drag up to Medstead where the first feed station awaited, I filled one water bottle with energy drink, grabbed a handful of jelly beans and was off again, by my calculations I was six minutes up on target time.
The middle section of the course proved uncomfortable, possibly due to the incessant undulations breaking my rhythm. I maintained my target speed but ceased to gain time. It felt like an eternity before I returned to familiar roads.
I left the second feed station in a large group, but by the base of the new cycle route over the Devil's Punchbowl I was alone again. I enjoyed the long gentle climb and the scenery. With legs burning as I crested the top I upped my pace. My legs felt weak but I was nearing the finish.
On the last climb I saw my target time tick by, crossing the line less than 3 minutes later. It had been an enjoyable ride, well organised, and well sponsored by SportivePhoto who provided all the pictures free of charge!
If you'd like to win the chance to blog for us and bag free entry to up to five British Cycling registered sportives this year, take a look at our competition info page.