Wiggle Essex Explorer 2013 – First Century

Date: 19th May 2013
Distance: 161.2km
Average speed: 26.6km/h

I decided it would be a good idea to try a big event before RideLondon, so that I was a bit more prepared about what might be in store. Doing 100 miles beforehand would also mean I would be less worried about it, as well as gaining experience of riding in groups. So I entered the Wiggle Essex Explorer sportive.

I ended up ordering the Ribble before the event, so that I could better replicate the RideLondon experience – I had always planned on buying a new bike before, so it seemed like a good time to do it. I only had it for a couple of days before the Essex Explorer, but it rode beautifully compared to the Carrera TDF.

The ride went in an anti-clockwise loop around Essex, starting and finishing just outside Shenfield. It was a nice day for it, sunny but not too hot. I remember taking it easy to begin with, getting tows from various groups. However, I made a mistake after about an hour – I had been riding with a couple of blokes when a rather large group overtook and shot off into the distance. I was feeling pretty good at this point so decided to try and catch up. I failed miserably, and was left on my own with no-one in front or behind. I didn’t want to look stupid so soldiered on until I eventually did catch up with another group, but I had burned quite a lot of matches at this point.

It started to hurt around the four hour mark – my earlier efforts were starting to catch up with me and I slowed to a crawl at times. Thankfully there was another rider who was also struggling that I’d seen several times before that day, and we started riding together for a while to try and keep each other motivated!

After the third feed station I was feeling much better (although I had a pretty numb bum when getting back on the bike!) and was able to speed off, with my former partner’s blessing – apparently there were some hills further on which he was not going to be good at so he suggested I go ahead to try and beat the silver award cut-off at 6 hours 30 minutes. The hills were not too bad really and I was able to keep going, eventually finishing with a time several minutes inside the silver cut-off. I was very happy about this, and my companion also came home a few a minutes later also inside the time.

I enjoyed the event very much and would go on to participate again in 2014 (although it had a completely different route). I felt it gave me some much-needed experience of riding events and I think my RideLondon ride was all the better for it.

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