I had my reservations about entering this event again this year due to the poor signage the previous year. Last year there was a large Redhill turn out it was quite a challenging course, very windy, and the signage let us down.
However due to making a huge b**ls up last year and recording a pretty bad time I wanted to rectify it. Looking at the results from last year, one person got a Gold and no one managed to get a gold in the under 39s category; the time set for this category being 3hrs 35mins, with the fastest overall time being 3hrs 41mins. My aim this year was to get a silver time and finish in under 4 hours.
I lined up at the start in Marden quite far back. Groups of 15-20 started at one minute intervals, it took half an hour for my group to begin, this gave me the opportunity to find a good group to ride with, but made me aware that some may already be out of reach with some people potentially 10miles ahead of me already.
It turned out that in my group three riders from Cycle Works were the likely candidates (haven't heard of the club to be honest, could well have been a sponsor), but these guys were fast, similar to one of my previous sportives they seemed a little too fast, my H/R was getting into the high 170s and I was uncomfortable doing that so I began to ease off.
For many miles they remained in view, as usual I made the most of using my aero bars, well needed today, especially due to the wind which was ferocious, similar to how it was last year, but fortunately a little warmer and also no hail woohoo!!
Strangely after the 30mile mark the 3 Cycle Works riders passed me, I haven't got a clue how this happened, they may have taken a wrong turning, who knows?!? But their pace had decreased to a more reasonable level so I decided to stick with them, we worked together well on the Military Road which proved to be quite challenging last year, the wind here nearly taking your breath away. These three riders then decided to stop at the final feed station and I continued. After three hours I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I had ten miles to go, I then realised that Gold was then achievable but I had to maintain a 20mph average, this was a challenge, hill after hill faced me and I half expected to be caught by the three cycle works riders later in the ride, but fortunately I was not.
I got to the finish in 3hrs 34mins and 53secs, 7 seconds under the Gold time set for the under 39s category. Average speed 20mph. My Garmin recorded the ride as 72miles and 2,518ft/767m of climbing (35ft/11m per mile) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/83033707.
Awaiting confirmation of results.