Google+ Followers

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ride with Brad

Way before Bradley Wiggins was given his Yellow Jersey to keep, and received yet another golden gong  our meeting was already scheduled.
The 19th of August 2012.
Yes - before the Tour de France and Olympics Bradley had set up the Bradley Wiggins Foundation

A charity with clear aims and objectives
To promote participation in sport and encourage people to exercise on a regular basis

To support keen and talented athletes from all sports who have the potential of taking their talent to the next level
To provide equipment or facilities to allow participation in sport as an individual, through clubs, local communities or schools

To launch the foundation he organised a sportive to take place in the local area where he trained.
Judging by his accent, and believing he was a London Boy, I rubbed my hands together thinking the only hill that might trouble me would be at  Highgate.
Unfortunately Bradley now lives 'Up North'  and trains on the Pennines around the Yorkshire/Lancashire border. The location for the ride.
File:Pendle Hill above mist 235-0004.jpg

Not appreciating any future pain from the comfort of my desk -I entered the event , coaxing some of my fellow Anglo Mules to join me.

Later when I saw that some of the climbs had 'names' - I realised that they must be significant.
Hills or mountains don't normally have names unless they have some sort of personality.

The Iconic 'Nick of Pendle' and 'Trough of Bowland' both had plenty, if they were human they would be absoloute rotters.
Both were featured in my book '100 greatest cycling climbs' by Simon Warren.

On arriving at Barnoldswick I soon realised that this was no ordinary Sportive.
There was a real buzz of excitement within what I can only describe as a cycling village.
As we were corralled into starting pens our turn eventually came which saw us take our place at the front of the cordoning ribbon.

The MC who was entertaining the crowing crowd and linking in to the local radio station spotted our equine shirts. Within seconds a microphone was pressed in front of me asking me to talk about 'The Mules'.
My mind was on forthcoming gradients, not witty remarks, so my response was tepid.
It wouldnt be the only time that my tongue would abandon me that day.

Thankfully I was saved by the bell and we were off
A quartet of pink and black in perfect Symmetry.
Wherever there were houses there were people.....hundreds of them with placards and Union jacks.
The love for Bradley Wiggins overflowed so much, that even us mere mortals were able to lap some of it up.

It provided such a lift, that it was like a verbal  anesthetic. It numbed the pain of constantly pushing into the red zone.
The first 15 miles were similar to the wolds with  rolling hills.
Fuelled my adrenaline we were averaging just short of 18 mph.
This was abruptly reduced  by a flock of sheep that were being moved out to pasture.
What a great idea........I nearly followed.!

What did follow was Waddington Fell.
As we moved onto the bigger climbs the roads were chalked and dozens of spectators lined the road to bring a welcome cheer upon the barren moors.
On reaching Sabden I could see the road wind out in front of me far, far into the distance.
The vista was not horizontal but vertical.
As climbs go this was by no means the toughest but it was certainly the most beautiful and awe inspiring that I have ever climbed. (The pictures are not from the day but feature various stages of the climb)

The closer I got to the top the bigger the crowds got, and the louder the applause became .
Dozens of people were forced to walk as the increased gradient opened up the lactic acid valves on lower limbs.
I knew that my feet would remain in my cleats.
Each cheer I harnessed into another turn of the crank and another few meters closer to the summit.  

After the summit - came the descent where Mark registered 48 mph - MAD F***ER!!!!

We then moved into an area that was once described as a wild and lawless region: an area "fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity. Interesting.
 It was an area which was the centre of the Pendle witch trials in 1612, a date which is recorded on its imposing landscape.

As the event drew to an end I knew that I was nearly empty and I was starting to struggle.
The rain came making the roads slippy and the narrow ascents became more taxing.
On one such ascent I heard a voice next to me. 'Keep going, your doing really well, there is not far to go now' glancing over - It was him.
The Tour de France winner, and Multiple gold medal  Olympian. Bradley Wiggins
I had rehearsed this moment in my head for weeks, like an outside Oscar nominee.
I would talk about the Mules, ask about the Tour.etc etc
Instead all I could offer was a gormless starstruck smile and a shriek 'Bradley'
He did smile back before smoothly accelerating away from me.


Feedback welcome