An introduction

The idea behind this blog is to review a series of 2017 sportives, from the point of view of a fairly experienced but very much amateur cyclist. But first, I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce myself and give a little context to future posts.

I’ve been riding bikes on and off since I was a teenager. A bunch of us from school would often head over to some local jumps in the woods with our mountain bikes at the weekends, although to be honest I was more there for the milkshakes served at the nearby cafe.

I picked mountain biking back up again during my last year at university, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I got into road cycling. At the time, I knew nothing about it, but I did know that I wanted to do Lands End to John O’Groats. So I bought a Giant Defy 4, cycled round Richmond Park for a few months and planned my route. I ended up doing LEJOG in the summer of 2012. I did it solo in 12 days and it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done on a bike.

From that point I realised I found road cycling a lot of fun, but I was also scared that I’d lose the fitness LEJOG had given me, so I looked around for reasons to keep cycling. Living in London at the time, I joined the ever-increasing number of commuters and cycled to and from work for a couple of years, but eventually I wanted to get out into the countryside, away from nutter taxis (and other cyclists!) and enjoy riding again.

So I entered my first sportive, the Kentish Killer, in February 2013. I followed up with the Tonbridge Castle Ride 100 a few months later. These events were great (I’m doing both again this year), but without a goal, I didn’t feel the need for many more organised rides. On moving out to Kent later that year having just got married, I quickly discovered that there was some great riding to be had right on my doorstep, so I picked up semi-regular weekend solo rides, which gave me all I wanted from cycling for a good while.

In 2015 though, I decided I needed another specific challenge. The Prudential RideLondon 100 became my target, cycling with the Save the Rhino team (who, incidentally, were amazing in every way and do great work). Having done a century ride during LEJOG, it wasn’t the distance that was the focus, but I’d heard the RideLondon course was a fast one, so I was aiming for a realistic target time of under 5 hours 30 minutes. I finished in 4 hours 54 minutes, which was a great feeling and the second best thing I’ve done on a bike.

After the RideLondon, I decided to take a bit of time out from cycling for 2016, concentrating on other things. Which brings us nicely to now, 2017, and the point of this blog. This year, I’m picking up where I left off and taking on a new cycling goal, the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales on 11 June. I’ve been realistic and signed up to the 95 mile Medio Fondo route, although with the amount of climbing I’m told it’ll be significantly more of a test that the RideLondon. To get prepared for it, I’ve entered a series of sportives – one a month from February – starting with the Kentish Killer this Sunday, 26 February…

In researching events to enter, I’ve struggled to find much in the way of helpful feedback on past events. So in this blog, I’m going to review each of the sportives I do this year, to try and give you a flavour of what they’re like, be it the routes, atmosphere, weather, organisation etc or simple enjoyment factor. I hope that it helps you when deciding which rides you’re going to enter next year and how they might help you with your training or general riding. I’m going to try and steer clear of giving you a technical account, but my rides will be linked with Strava for those who want to see the details. I’ll also throw in a few more general posts about my bike and equipment, other riding and, if things get slow, something about my LEJOG and RideLondon experiences. 

I’ll always be grateful for your comments and feedback, so please do get in touch. Please keep checking my blog for updates and new sportive reviews, but most importantly, enjoy riding and stay safe!

Jack

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