London to Canterbury

Before France and the Etape there was one final cyclosportive to ride – The London to Canturbury ‘British Sportive’. This ride closely followed the route that Stage One of the 2007 Tour de France would take a week later.

Here’s what I wrote back then:

After getting up at about 3.30, I was at the start sometime after 6am – Bit annoyed by a few club types who came across as quite self important at the start line, shoving their way to the front – including one from my local club who barged past quite aggressively then propped his bike against the fence and went for a pee.

I didn’t like the opening bit to Gravesend, and having ridden this bit before last year knew it was fairly rubbish. Having said that the traffic was pretty light at that time of day and I was surprised how quickly Rochester came up (the previous year I rode it with Barry Mason from Southwark Cyclists, who took us on a wildly diverging route taking in far too much of NCN 1, apart from the lovely bit through the marshes which is worth a sizeable detour).

The wet conditions had most people fairly damp early on and made me really, really wish that guys would not wear white cycling shorts. In the wet they become transparent and quite unpleasant to look at, especially with a muddy stripe up the middle. I swear I pushed hard in the early stages just to avoid transparently naked arses.

I was flogging along with a fairly fast group, some of whom were aiming for a six hour time and I was keeping up fairly well (I knew I would probably lose this pace at some point but at 50 miles I was optimistic of doing somewhere between 6.20 to 6.40 by the finish, a good pace for the distance)

A visit from the puncture fairy at 61 miles dropped me from the fast group I was with and lost me a fair bit of time – a lot of water had got in and the adhesive rim tape got screwed up as I took the tyre off – it left about four spoke holes exposed which I couldn’t get the tape to unravel enough to cover – fearing further punctures, I patched these with super patches (I knew I carried them for a reason) and the bodged wheel held up for the rest of the ride.

I tried to make up ground a bit and passed a fair few riders but I think I lost a good number of places due to puncturing (I’m sure I wasn’t alone though). I only stopped at one feed point which turned out to be the one with only water. Fortunately I had most of what I needed on me so just refilled on water for a very quick stop.

Cheers to the spectators who were out, especially the ones with the cowbell and the ones at Farthing Common – most spectators seemed more like onlookers though, and bemused ones at that.

I didn’t have a lot of power left at Canterbury and was almost glad that the finishing stretch was too narrow for a sprint. My rolling time according to my bike computer was only 6.25 but the actual time taken was 6:51:50.

It was interesting comparing it to the Etape Caledonia which I did the previous Sunday, which was much faster and better marshalled I thought (with better warning of dodgy turns). The closed roads in Scotland made it a much more enjoyable experience, with better surfaced roads too.

Overall I was happy with the British Sportive and was happy with my time. A fortnight later was France and the Etape!


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