I don’t often ride sportives these days but really fancied giving the Somerset 100 a go since it is a local event, the profits go to charity and I was using it as preparation for a longer ride in June. I wasn’t disappointed, the sun shone for the entire day showing the Levels in their very best light, in stark contrast to the winter floods.
I arrived early at the event start eager to secure a parking spot. This gave me a chance to take my time to prepare and amazingly I was the first of the 300 riders to sign on.
At a little after 8.30am all the riders set off, some on the shorter 35 mile loop with the majority aiming for the 102 mile loop. I had opted to do the later.
It had been more than a year since my last century so my strategy was to just enjoy the ride and the sun. With this in my mind I rode well within myself and tagged onto a group of a dozen or so riders. After a while though I pushed on a little harder and from that point on, probably from around the 30 mile mark, I was either riding in very small groups, as a pair, or solo. A few of us were yo-yoing back and forth between each other as we each experienced good and bad patches.
The Somerset 100 is a relatively flat sportive with only 1000 metres of elevation gain making it a fast course. Since I hadn’t ridden this distance for a while I was happy for the long stretches of flat. On the hillier sections I made sure to ride well within myself and just spin up them as easily as I could.
I made especially sure to hydrate and eat well during the event and this paid off as I entered the last quarter of the ride. My nutrition was made up of a banana, rice cakes (see recipe here: http://pages.rapha.cc/team/rice-cakes-a-recipe), a couple of slices of fruit cake from the feed stops and in the last 10 miles I popped a gel. I use gels very sparingly as I don’t particularly like them. If I use too much of them they hurt my guts. That said, when one is nearing their limits on the bike eating a gel can give the necessary boost which it did. In total my fluid intake was made up of 1 bottle of coconut water and 3 bottles of water with Nuun electrolyte. I’m prone to cramping over long distances but even with the warm temperatures I didn’t suffer a single cramp. A massage two days earlier may also have helped with this.
On the subject of feed stops, there were just two which considering the event profits go to charity is fair enough. The first was around the 54 mile mark and the second at 70 miles. The stops were a no frills affair but there was more than enough water, bananas and cake for everyone.
My only gripe relates to the signposting. Although the frequency of signposting was good the signs themselves were too small making it difficult to distinguish them properly. Bigger signage please organisers!
Sign posting aside the Somerset 100 is a fantastic and friendly local event and one that I intend to do again next year. I mentioned earlier that I was using this sportive as preparation for a longer ride. On 8 June I’ll be riding from the North Yorkshire coast over to the coast of the South lakes, across the Moors and dales, a total of around 150 miles and I daren’t imagine how much elevation gain.
I’ll be doing this ride (the longest I’ll have ever done) along with my sister and her boyfriend and maybe one other rider. They are using this ride as preparation for their charity ride across the USA in September from East to West coast, 100 miles per day for 30 days. If anyone is interested in knowing more please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=cycol4kitale&isTeam=true.
Keep a look out for my write up of the 150 miler. It will no doubt be epic!
Jason’s stats: (WOW) http://connect.garmin.com/activity/502121366
Clubrider runs leader Mat Croft travelled with some VCW mates and writes:
Six of VC Walcott’s finest headed South to the levels to take part in the ever popular Somerset 100 Charity ride. Paula, Dave A, Iain, Andy G, Andy L and Mat set off along with 300 others on a beautifully bright morning – having ignored all sun protection warnings!
A super fast and pancake flat start along the levels parted us from the (mainly) 35 milers as the glorious sunny day unfolded. There is a friendly, supportive and relaxed atmosphere on this century with waves from the local villagers.
The 75 mile lunch came surprisingly soon and off we confidently headed for the last little bit…..oh how wrong ! Apart from some steep climbing in the Mendips the maths says it all. Another 30 miles over the first 75 is not ‘little’ and the last few hours – just short of our normal Sunday ride was very quiet and I think we were counting pedal strokes by the end.
It was 6 tired Walcottites – along with new found friends – that lay in a warm field on Sunday evening, over filled with coffee and energy gels but proud, satisfied and talking of the next one….