The Spring Onion is a cracking local event of 65 miles (104.5 km in Triathlon speak). Run by Dudley of 50/34 events it is good value too.
Starting in Cobham town centre at a gentle 8:15 am (and how easy is that?) we rolled out like a marauding group of Viking Raiders. Dodging Nannies in Range Rovers heading for their skinny latte take outs, riders of all shapes & sizes were at 150% of FTP in the gentle upward drag to Effingham and White Down. I took the chance to snuggle up behind some of the ‘fuller figured’ riders to save the limited watts I had so far accumulated this season.
By the time we were in ‘The Street’ in Effingham the group of 50 odd was down to 15 or so, as we got going on the drag up past St Theresa’s to White Down. At White Down we are down to 10 riders – 8 Dynamos plus 2 including me.
By the top of Leith we are 7.
We then head out into the real Surrey & Sussex countryside, up Smokejack Hill & past pubs called ‘Badger’s Spleen’ and ‘Ocelot’s Nipple’ where local farming types with bugger-grip side-burns will later be sat drinking Old Thumper. From the back of my group the view looks great, sprawling country homes for the fishing and shooting types.
Wisborough Green is where the halfway feed station is at. The trouble is we get there too fast, & they are not yet set up! In any event we have no plans to stop for snacks, and trundle past looking serious. I am already starting to suppress the need to wee. Being over 50 this is a big disadvantage, as whilst it is well-documented muscles waste faster as we age, it is also seemingly true that your bladder gets much smaller. Mine seems to be about as big (or small?) as a walnut as I try to think about anything else.
I venture the idea of a stop but nobody else is keen as they are all too young, and still have bladders the size of grapefruits.
At the Foxbridge Lane climb we lose a Dynamo as he goes shooting out the back. I bet he stops to pee, lucky thing.
Two fast riders then breeze past. WTF?
I realise that there is no way I can keep up and let them go, but two of our crew try in vain to keep up, and waste some energy. By Hascombe Hill the two speedsters are long gone (to eventually finish 1st & 2nd). I tell myself they are young and don’t have proper jobs, wives, families, cats or dogs, so can train a lot more. If nothing else it stops me thinking about having a wee.
At Hascombe Hill we also lose another Dynamo out the back, so now we are down to 5 (3 Dynamos plus Jonathan from Cadence, and me). I almost get a nose bleed by venturing to the front, & thankfully before too long we arrive at Coombe via Bramley, Chilworth & Albury. Up Coombe I am having to back off, the other guys are all bigger & gravity is taking its toll. I suspect their larger bladders don’t help here, they could have been so much lighter had we stopped to wee.
There is no point in riding off to get away, as from the top of Coombe it is all downhill as we scream down Green Dene, into Effingham and then Cobham. Again time to be in a group and to know you need to do that before you start the ride. I am now on & off the front with Jonathan, pulling as fast as my little legs can go. We scream into Cobham which is now very busy. Range Rovers are again everywhere, as Davinia & Claudia head for extra Ballet & Piers & Miles are dropped off at the Skate Park. We avoid any collisions and I let the guys roll in ahead, as that is good rider etiquette having sucked their wheels like Linda Lovelace!
Dudley has, as always, put on great post-ride snacks & pasta. After pi$$ing like a racehorse I scoff down loads of protein (as well as some junkier stuff) and chat to the guys I rode with, who are all lovely. We work out we placed 3rd to 7th (with me in 7th). I ponder suggesting an over 50’s category for 2017 and then roll home.
Lessons from the day?
Racecraft in cycling events includes knowing when to push, and when to sit in (& hide). For a fast time in this event you need to be with a good group after the top of Leith Hill, as from there it is flatter for long periods. Therefore, know your route in advance, so in this instance pushing hard early actually worked well. Conversely start too slow & you spend the ride with a weaker slower group, who will rely on you to do more of the heavy lifting. Choosing not to stop at the feeds in shorter events, especially when the weather is cool can save time too. Having a powermeter helps hugely, as if you ‘know your numbers’ you are less likely to blow to pieces and can become more skilled at conserving power to use it when needed. To know your numbers you ideally need a coach, for me that has been the best money spent in cycling!
There were some other Viceroys there, so they too should write up how they got on?
Have a good season everyone, you can do more than you think you can!