Having watched the Vuelta a España peleton ride by last Thursday, come Sunday I was actually in a Peleton. I was taking part in my first Sportive, The Clasica Los Puertos de Esmeralda which is run by my club Nava2000. With 387 participants, it was my first experience of riding in such a large group but as we pulled away any nerves I had about doing so evaporated. You would think so many people so close together would be quite scary but it was actually fine. It might have been helped by the fact that I took the wheel of a very attractive female participant, a great way to start my first sportive.
The route would take us from Nava, through the heart of the Cider making Region of Asturias, down to the coast and then back via several steep hills. All in all the route was 117km with just under 2000 meters of climbing, further than I had ever ridden before.
Before the start I finally got to meet ‘El Ingles’ (the Englishman) Ian, who is an English member of the club but who I had never had the opportunity of meeting. We ended up riding most of the course together and I really appreciated him hanging back with me for most of the ride as I am still quite a bit slower than the other members of the club, at least up the hills. It was great to ride and actually understand what was being said to me as often it is difficult for me to have a conversation on a bike in Spanish.
Half way through the ride we all had to stop at the first feeding zone in Colunga and after about 20 minutes we all set off again. With no more forced stops and mainly hilly terrain ahead the peleton soon splintered into little groups. After a quick stop to answer the call of nature, I caught up again with Ian who had kindly hung back. We decided not to stop at the second feed station, instead choosing the rather sneaky ‘overtake the 60 riders who stopped’ option, although thanks to my slow pace up the hills I reckon 59 of them caught up and overtook us again.
The ride was great and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Ian was great company, the weather was perfect, the course, although quite tough toward the end, was manageable and very scenic. The legs were pretty wasted at the end but I was happy with my time of 4 hours 45 minutes (not including the break) considering it was my first sportive and only my 3rd time over 100km. It was lovely to see the wife and kids there cheering me at the finish line, although I’m sure the kids were dying to ask me why I was so far behind the winner. The organization was great and there was quite a spread put on after the ride for all riders and their families.
It turned out to be a really enjoyable day I think it quite likely that I will become addicted to sportive riding and can’t wait to do another one.
Here is a link to my ride stats and the route plus a pic or two. My wife did try and take a photo of me crossing the line but missed and got Ian instead. There is also a link to a Youtube video and I can be seen briefly at minute 1.31.
Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv1045jYMQ8
Strava Ride stats and route: http://app.strava.com/activities/84420556