This week saw me take on a new challenge and a welcome break from a running event! This week’s event was a 65km Gravel sportive around the Dorset coast. Organised by a company called Glorious Gravel, their name had a lot to live up to! They run plenty of events throughout the year and hopefully I’ll get on to another one at some point throughout the challenge. An early start with a 90-minute drive down to Swanage to meet up with Nigel and Sam, my team for the day. Both experienced gravel riders and comfortable over long distances I was a bit concerned id hold them back so I’d packed loads of sweets to fuel me! With plans of a mini adventure after, I loaded up the van with lots of gear to make it an active weekend. Arrived in plenty of time and just casually got my stuff ready and the bike packed up to go. It was very casual atmosphere and no real rush to get started which was nice. We were just put off in waves when we were ready.
With no notion of the route, I was just following the others and the arrows, and boy was it a fun route. Can easily say this is the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike! With a good mixture of country roads, gravel tracks and mtb trails it made for an entertaining day! As you can see from the photos, we had some stunning views, and the weather couldn’t have been better! With the Project52 cycle jerseys out in force, some great photos were produced! Knowing there was 2 aid stations enroute is how I broke the day down in my head. And if you pay for an event you’ve got to eat your money’s worth at the stops. Let me tell you, waffles with Biscoff spread on top…..WINNER! With plenty of hills and challenging sections I impressed myself with my bike handling abilities and the terrain I was coping well with. Maybe I got a bit too cocky……
The ride finished with a trip to Old Harry Rocks which is one of the first places Jess took me too when I first visited once we started going out, so it’ll always bring back happy memories. However, the long drag up from there into a headwind will unfortunately live with me for a while too! Cruised down in Swanage, along the sea front and back to race HQ where we were handed a lucky saint (0%) beer and ordered a dirty burger! Well, we did deserve it after 5hrs 28 mins in the saddle over 66kms and 1300m climbing it made for a great event and great training for the longer events to come.
The plan was to head down to Swanage and got for a swim in the wetsuits, unfortunately due to my arrogance leading to my fall my main priority was to have a wash. With no showers available on the seaside, I used the sea as my bath! First time in the sea for a year and it was cold, but I tolerated it for a short while and it’ll definitely help me acclimatise come Celtman. Hot chocolate and cake sourced we chilled for little bit before Nige and Sam headed back to Salisbury. I on the other hand was away to find my van parking spot for the night as I had a big 3hr run planned along the coast for the next day.
Well I definitely can say ‘Glorious Gravel’ lived up to their name and I had an incredible time. Best event so far.
15 down…..37 to go!
- Event Difficulty 3.5/5 Was a long day in the saddle with lots of technical bits and plenty of vertical, but man it was fun!
- Event Goodies 3/5 Very well stocked Aid stations and a beer to finish. No medal to show for it but the leg ache and the smiles were enough for me!
- Company 5/5 Having worried about keeping up I was well impressed with the company. They were even brave enough to get in the sea with me! And don the cycle jerseys!
- Eye Candy 5/5 By far the most scenic event so far. Stunning coastline, awesome sane dunes and even Corfe Castle all for good measure.
- Event Scran 3/5 Post ride burger and beer was treat, but to be honestly I think anything would have tasted good after that!!