The Reading Sportive was hugely entertaining, well staffed, and attended by some thoroughly nice cyclists. I had plenty of company for the first stage of about 19 miles, rather less company for the second stage of 19 miles – and rode the whole of the last stage (25 miles) alone bar the final 2 miles. I had a very nice conversation with a chap called David (from Kingston), reassurance on the route from two nice ladies who had rather more confidence in the pink Evans signs than I did (there was some serious divergence from the published sat-nav route) and a tissue on which to blow my nose from a pretty girl at the first rest stop. See? Thoroughly nice all round.
The highlights, for me, were the sunlight dappling through the beech and oak woods of the Chilterns and the steam from the traction engine that I overtook (which was being driven by two ladies – not something you see everyday, but something which pleased me greatly). I daydreamed a little when riding past glades of mossy stumps, bluebells, primroses and wild garlic – it was all quite beautiful. I also cursed the vile slobs who’d seen fit to lob their sweet wrappers and fast food detritus from their cars.
My top tip for anyone training for a long bike ride has to be ‘Don’t drink before a bike ride’. It wasn’t that I had a hangover, but the four pints that I enjoyed the evening before definitely affected my sleep – so I started the ride feeling rather tired and rather fuzzy. I know. It’s obvious. It should be obvious, anyway. Apparently it wasn’t obvious enough for me.
The ride times have now been published (source data here: RIDE_IT_Reading_Sportive_rider_times_2016.pdf) in a form which isn’t easily extractable for further processing. This is done to discourage entrants from racing – but sometimes it’s nice to know how you compare against everyone else (and luckily, being a geek, such restrictions aren’t so much a prohibition as a challenge for me).
I have extracted this data (in order not to mess things up for Evans, I’m not going to publish anything that isn’t related to my performance – if you want the raw data then you can work out how to extract it for yourself).
My performance was distinctly middling – but I can live with that, especially since I was riding on a steel bike (with full mudguards and panniers) and everyone else seemed to be riding carbon fibre or light alloy, often with exotic or bespoke sounding names. I finished 81 out of 158 starters on the Medium route, with a time of 4:55.57. The Mean time was 4:46.03 – so, give or take six seconds, I hit the Mr. Average target squarely on the nose. The fastest time was 2:32.27 (which equates to an average speed of about 25MPH – so hats off to Mr. Speedy), and the slowest was 7:37.32.