I’ve ridden a fair few of the UK cycling events sportives in the past but this one was slightly different. Not because it was the first one I have ridden as a dad, but because it was the first one I have ridden with my dad. It was his first event, so I was acting as chaperone. ( Not wanting to make it sound like I’m his carer, but he is 58!) This event was being held at Matchams raceway near Hurn in Bournemouth and we had booked ourselves in to the short 43 mile route. We registered, prepared our bikes, and had our safety briefing. Both now ready, we set off (me hiding mild trepidation) and headed through the start gate and off down Matchams lane.
Ready for the off!
First thing I noticed was the change of season, a heavy mist hung in the air rendering any kind of eye wear useless due to condensation, as the last time I had managed to get out on the bike was nearly a month ago. The 43 mile route heads from matchams to Hurn, Ringwood, Crow, and Poulner. Then to Fordingbridge, where we had a ‘cleat issue’ (justifying my trepidation!) – the last minute struggle of a road cycling newbie to get out of those pedals. Rolling up the junction at the end of Stuckton Road, dad misread the sportive signs and started to go in the wrong direction. I shouted to correct him but it was too late, there were now cars preventing us leaving the junction, and a gentle commando style roll was performed by dad onto his side whilst still attached to the bike. Luckily he and bike were OK, just pride bruised. Back on two wheels we cycled through Fordingbridge and out to Sandleheath. This was the location of the feed stop, and at 18 miles it was pretty close to the start so felt like a bit of an interruption rather than a welcome break, so we scoffed some banana pieces, a couple of fig rolls, and filled our pockets with as many free energy bars we could and set of again. From here it was out to Cranbourne (the weather had now cleared to beautiful sunshine and the views across Cranbourne chase were stunning), south to Woodlands, and East toward Verwood. To avoid Verwood town centre, we headed north to Cripplestyle, East to Alderholt and started the final stretch home south to Ringwood. At this stage riders had started to bunch a little and we had some fun leap frogging each other and giving the odd tow, all underlined by a bit of unspoken competitiveness. Under the A31 again and onto the undulating Matchams lane. Now its not the toughest bit of road but its a bit rough, a bit windy, and you just end up on and off the throttle, so there’s not a lot of respite for the last couple of tired miles. Turning right into Matchams Leisure park everyone thinks its over, yet there’s one final climb into the park and up to the finish. What would normally be classed as a breeze feels long and steep as everyone is tired. We both pass the few guys that have been leap frogging us for the last ten miles as a small personal victory and cross the line in tandem. We finish in 2 hours 39 minutes and qualify for a gold time.
Yet another well organised day by UK Cycling events at Matchams with good onsite facilities and really well provided feed stop. It was a shame that the routes had to change due to road closures and a clash with the cycletta, but the route around Cranbourne was more than scenic enough and for a newbie had just the right amount of climbing. I was incredibly impressed with my old dads ability to get round in a gold time on his first attempt, it was a stronger effort than my first try and I was half his age! He did moan about how rough the roads were and how bad some drivers are around cyclists, but he loved the atmosphere and route. A great success and we have already started discussing the next ride…………