That was an easy ride to Sumners Ponds.
That something I never said.
Nor today. It doesn't matter it as a shorter version than the "official" route and supposedly ridden at "Dai's recovery" pace.
Don't get me wrong, the pace was not crazy at all. But there is something about riding to Sumners Ponds that always slaughters the weakest rider of the group.
It usually goes like this.
The victim goes reasonably well in the first two climbs. But at the moment the second descend finishes the victim realises has been too optimistic. It doesn't matter if the victim knows the route or not, it's only 40km into a route that is 125km in the "official" route and 100km in Dai's short version and the victim knows that has spent bit too much.
There is still hope though. "I'll recover at the coffee stop" the victim thinks. But the coffee stop can't come soon enough. The road goes up and down; not any climb to mention but with very little flat. That kind of terrain that eats your legs.
By the time the group makes it to the café stop the victim knows the return leg is going to be tough. A tiny bit of hope that recovery is still possible is there but it blows in pieces the moment the group hits the road again.
Thats because very soon there is a climb, nothing crazy, just a bump on the road, but hard enough to make the victim agree with the say that goes "hell is the pace of the others". Because the victim see the others and realises, "they are going well and I am not".
It is not hell what comes, no dramas here. It is just the realisation that legs won't keep up and the slaughter is inevitable. There is no way out, it is just a matter of time.
The time that takes to get to the next proper climb (Broomhall in the long version, White Down in the short one). There's where the slaughter will happen. The victim sees the group disappear up the hill and all the victim can do is to load the longest gear available on the bike and take it as easy as possible. The gap at the top will be immense anyway, it is better to save the legs as much as possible because there are at least 25km to the end of the ride. They are mostly downhill, but the victim knows that once you are killed every single km feels very long.
Believe me, I have seen this happening to a lot of riders. Doesn't matter how strong you are. You go on holidays for two weeks, come back on the bike after a cold or simply join the wrong group to Sumner Ponds and you'll be slaughtered. That's a fact.
Today I was the victim.
In the second climb, I even put my Garmin in my pocket so I couldn't see how hight my heart rate was because that would make me hold myself. I did well, third after Denis and Joe, respectable.
The hope to be able to recover at the coffee stop made me to take a turn in the front in one of the few flat sections. That was plainly silly.
Got to Sumners Ponds and I was under no illusion the second part of the ride was going to be tough, there was not coffee stop that could recover the mess my legs were in.
I didn't fight my destiny, just tried to do a decent job holding with the group. Came White Down the inevitable happened. Loaded the lowest gear and went up as easy as possible (there is no really way to go easy up White Down). Last at the top by a huge margin.
And that was it. Would you believe me if I tell you I really loved the ride?
Love your write-up J
Thanks Philip Magnus MHP I felt everyone had to be warned 😀
Nice riding with you on the outward leg Javier - I realised I was the victim after Hound House and made the decision (the right one for me). Still limped home! Ha
Nice writing Javier.... you should be on content as well as technology at GCN!