'My first sportive didn't go to plan': Peter White's CW5000 May blog

'I also managed to knock 19 seconds off a personal best on a Strava segment'

peter white blog
(Image credit: Ross Wilson / Beachy Head CC)

Well, that was an eventful month.

I rode my first ever sportive recently, I don’t think these events were around in the 1980’s when I was last cycling and I’d never heard of them until this year.

It was the Beachy Head CC Spring Classic which had two routes: a 102km epic route which I'd entered and a Challenge route at 66km.

Last week I thought I'd better study the route and, to my surprise, it consisted of three cat 4 climbs, one over two miles in length, along with plenty of other climbs.

I took a look at last year’s times and decided I wanted to get round in three hours 45 minutes and hopefully be in the top 10 for my category (50-59) and maybe in the top 20 overall.

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I was on the front line of the first group of riders that set off and only had three riders overtake me when suddenly I crossed the finish line. I'd managed to take the wrong turning on the road where the route splits for the Epic and Challenge distances. Damn it!

The organisers looked a bit confused when they could see the first rider back wasn’t very happy. When I told them what had happened they offered me a lift back to the split in the road where I took the wrong turn but said the time wouldn’t count as it was automatically recorded on from chip on my rider number when I'd crossed the line.

I thought 'why not'. All was going well but I didn’t have quite the same drive as I was so annoyed with myself with what had happened. After some miles and a two-mile never-ending climb behind I realised I’d not seen any signs for a while.

Eventually, I pulled over only to discover I was way off course. My Garmin Edge hadn't notified me of any turns and I was basically lost. I had to put the finish point into my Waze app and stop every few miles to check the route on my phone. By the time I had reached the finish I had clocked up a total of 80 miles with a combined average speed of 17.89 mph.

Once the official times were up on the website I had the fastest time for my category and 2nd overall on the Challenge Route but if I had taken the correct turn for the Epic Route doing and average speed of 17.89 I could have been 4th overall and first in my category for the epic ride. So considering what had happened I’m pretty pleased with the result and who knows how it could have turned out.

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Hats off to the guys at Beachy Head CC for a well-organised event, but maybe some larger turn signs next year!

Overall my mileage is down by around 150 miles this month. I have a family with two boys at school, 18-year-old twins and run my own carpentry business, so have limited time to get out on my bike. But I had some success with the May challenges and managed to knock 19 seconds off a personal best on a Strava segment. 

I was ranked 24th out of 10,775 overall and second fastest this year. I'll be trying that one again as I used to love a long climb as a youth. I have vivid memories of Robert Millar in his Polkadot jersey riding the Tour De France in the 80s. It was riders like him, along with my Dad, that inspired me to get into bike racing in the first place.