Gavin’s mileage and training is really ramping up with the monument of l’Etape du Tour looming large in his calendar. His latest challenge, the appropriately titled Wiggle 'The Long One', at 126 daunting miles…
Wiggle’s ‘The Long One’ - or as my friends have been taunting me with - "Long One Silver" - given the three disappointing Silver times I have posted in the previous Wiggle Sportives. It was another efficient event - slick registration, well-signed course, good fuel stations and a tough route with a sting in the tail (or three).
Touted as one of the Longest Sportives, at 126 miles and with a Wiggle rating of five out of five I simply HAD to target this event as part of my Etape training. Not ony that - the Pieces of Eight had to be gold and not silver.
The Open Air Museum at Singleton provided a glorious setting for the start - and the sun was shining. The pre-ride brief warned us sun-kissed happy riders of a headwind in the last third. Correction – forty miles of "Brutal" headwind in the last third of the event. Goodwood may have been within a rear wheel of the start/finish line - but I might not be in any condition to display a Festival of Speed performance.
The route took in nine climbs and some beautiful scenery - including the villages of the Meon's, Hambledon and surrounding countryside. The views were spectacular and for a townie - it was lovely to enjoy the sights and smells of the alien countryside!
I started the sportive with my pal Dave - but things went sour for us as I lost my chain climbing Butser Hill. In a replication of Contador and Schleck on the Port de Bales 2010, Dave attacked - and his chances of getting a lift home suddenly disappeared with him across the horizon.
Despite ongoing mechanical issues - I made up time - and Duncton Hill at 116 miles followed by Goodwood Hill at 120 miles tested the spirit and body. True to the pre-ride briefing, the headwind was Brutal - and there was little hope of catching a friendly wheel for a tow, in fact, at 102 miles I heard a tell-tale click of something behind me.
A quick rearwards glance revealed a train of three riders, the front of which looking at me sheepishly - almost apologetically, but head bobbing and shoulders rolling and clearly - like me - in need of a friendly tow. Tearing down the Hill with my ensuing entourage and in to the grounds of the Museum - my Garmin warned me to prepare for disappointment - but when the results were published - I made a Gold time - by four minutes.
I was elated and allowed myself an excellent home-made cookie at the finish line. As this was a Saturday sportive - I had a Sunday to recover, and an evening to remove the Long One's parrot from my shoulder. The calling of the Alps is getting louder…