20 March 2017 0 Comments

Do you know Andy Holgate?

I’ve come to a decision. When I finally get around to writing my long awaited autobiography it will be entitled, “Do you know Andy Holgate?” It’s inevitable that whenever I rock up at a triathlon or sportive wearing City of Lancaster Triathlon Club (COLT) kit, someone, at some point will ask, “Do you know Andy Holgate?” It’s a given, and often at the most unlikely moments. Take the point in yesterday’s Jodrell Bank Sportive, for example, where I was riding with two guys quite a bit stronger than me. I was at that moment where I was calculating whether continuing at this lung busting speed into the ferocious headwind was sensible, or would I be better knocking it off and riding on my own for a bit. My vision was narrowing, my legs were screaming for mercy, I had 70km to go: cue question. Various responses flashed through my oxygen starved brain (“Fuck off you younger and fitter cyclist.” seemed the most popular) but I wonder if he caught my lame, “Yeah, he’s a decent bloke.” as I tailed off and they disappeared into the distance.

The Jodrell Bank Sportive has been around for a good few years now and is one of my favourite early season sportives. Based in Poynton, the route ventures out onto the Cheshire Plain in a south westerly direction before looping past Jodrell Bank itself and back to Poynton skirting the very edge of the Peak District through Bollington. The first three quarters are flat and fast and the climbs (none significant) are left to the end. The main issue for a mid March date is the weather and although we were lucky with the rain, the first half of the ride was into a stiff headwind. Unfortunately, the two guys aforementioned were setting a pace that was just a couple of kmh too hot for me and as a result I had too ride a fair portion of the middle section of the route on my own. This was fine once I turned away from the headwind, but had resulted in some pretty punishing miles in my attempt to keep a 30kph average. On a still day this would be more than doable for a decent rider, but today I knew I would pay for the early effort on the hills.

Once the terrain pointed upwards I slowed significantly, paused to put on my gilet when the rain that had threatened all day finally arrived for the last 10 miles and was caught and passed by the two strong guys once more (they had waited for a mate at the feed stop). The hills in Bollington and Pott Shrigley weren’t as tough as I recalled however, so my “berg” training was obviously paying off, and I rolled in to base in 3:52 at an average speed of 28kmh for the 108km ride. Happy with that.

What I like about the Jodrell Bank:

  • The route – ideal for an early season sportive;
  • Signposting – excellent throughout;
  • Post race food – lovely hotdogs, lots of cake and plenty of tea and coffee;
  • Excellent parking and start/finish facilities.

Even better ifs:

  • Results posted on race day evening – Tuesday afterwards isn’t great;
  • Results showing age groups;
  • Results posted on a sortable spreadsheet;
  • Think about the feed stop location: comes too early in the long route – well under half distance;

Edit Wednesday 22nd March

In this day and age I find it incredible that the best you can do is publish a table of unranked and invalidated data as a so-called set of results as the organisers of the Jodrell Bank have done here:

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