On Sunday I took part in my first Sportive of the year, the XXIII Marcha Cicloturista Villa de Gijon. My training this year hasn’t gone as planned due to health reasons, so I was a little nervous about my ability to keep up but in the end I managed to avoid the Broom Wagon. That said I was told it was right behind me up the last, really tough climb but I had my head down the whole way and never looked back. As I was overtaking a few riders I guess it was too full to sweep me up.
The weather was fantastic as we set off at 9:30 from Las Mestas in Gijon. Eight of my fellow club members were riding so it was nice to know I’d have good company (photo below shows Nava2000 as the most represented club). Starting in Gijon the route (see link below) headed out in the direction of Villaviciosa, climbing Infanzon, up La Venta de Ranas and then round toward Pedroso and La Cruz de Peon. In total we would climb about 1700m and although none of the initial climbs are that long or tough, they were certainly tough and frequent enough to sap our energy by the time we reached the dreaded climb of San Martin.
Coming toward the end of the ride the climb of San Martin is a short but brutal climb with ramps of up to 19%. As such, the organisers of the ride, CC Buenavista, give you another, easier route option which avoids having to climb it. Lots of the sensible riders took the easy option but if there is one thing I am not, it is sensible. Although still in sight, I was already a little way behind the main peleton by the time I reached the San Martin (My calf muscle was still playing up when riding hard on the flat) and although there were plenty of riders still behind me, I knew most of them would be taking the easy route.
Seeing riders in front of me turn right for the easy route, I did, for a split second, wonder if I was doing the right thing. However, Ian, who I was riding with, never seemed to flinch and kept going full speed ahead. I was probably one of, if not the last, to start the climb.
Now I’m certainly not one who relishes the sight of other cyclists suffering but seeing some cyclists ahead really struggle and either stop or zig zag all over the place did give me some confidence. It certainly wasn’t easy but, keeping bum in seat and head down I plodded my way up the climb without any real problems. Ian looked strong and pulled away nearing the top but I just kept my slow methodical rhythm going until I finally reached the summit.
Once down the hill, I met up with all the other riders who had gathered just outside Gijon and all 300 plus riders cycled into Gijon together to the finishing line.
It was a really enjoyable event and I felt pretty good that I had completed the tough route option. Riding with us was Carlos Sianz the famous Rally driver and Carlos Berredo and Chechu Rubiera was also at the start line, all which helped to make it a memorable experience.
Despite my niggling calf muscle problem, I probably should have pushed harder to stay with the main peleton at times but as it was an event where I knew we would stop occasionally, I never felt they were too far ahead and Ian and Rufino were kind enough to stay with me for most of the ride. There’s not much time between now and the Clasica Lagos de Covadonga which will be a much tougher ride. To be honest I’m not sure I’m up to it and I won’t have Ian and Rufino there to help me get around. However, although I may not be a good cyclist I am a stubborn one, so I will give it my best shot.
Here is a link to the route: http://www.strava.com/activities/142591784