Verenti Magnificat 2010

Another weekend, another sportive.  This time the Magnificat sponsored by Verenti.  Probably a bit too long at 205km but a good long ride in preparation for the Marmotte in a couple of weeks time.

Having been a little disparaging of the UK sportive scene earlier in the year I’ve had a change of heart.  Some of these events are terrifically well organised and give riders of all abilities something to have a go at. Yes,  there are lots of hairy legs around, and entry level bikes and people of all shapes, sizes and abilities – heck, some people even have the cheek to look as though they’ve turned up to enjoy themselves!

The whole event was very well organised; great facilities at the start/finish, quick sign-on, well signed and supported with decent feed stations.  I was also very grateful for the Mavic support who mended my gears so I had a very smooth ride.  Also the results were on the website by 20:00 the same day.  Amazing.

My goal for this event was quite simple.  I wanted to “win” it.  It takes a special kind of arrogance to look at a start sheet with 700 riders and believe that someone of my mediocre ability can get the fastest time but after the disappointment at the Dragon Ride I wanted a bit of payback.

90km Chase

I spent the first 90km kicking my own arse trying to catch the lead group.  We were set off in batches and PaulC and I were about 10 or 15 minutes down on the earliest starters.  I rode hard from the outset passing decreasing numbers of riders as the ride progressed.  I finally caught the lead group on the road and spent a couple of kilometres deciding what to do.


105km Solo

We hit a feed station after which there was a small climb.  Without really trying I put a bit of a gap between me and the other riders.  Trying to solo until the end of the ride from this far out seemed like utter madness so I backed off.  Still the group didn’t catch me so I thought ‘fuck it’ and just went.  I figured ‘out of sight, out  of mind’ so I put a decent effort in for about 10km before ‘relaxing’ into a steady, hard pace.

So the question – could I hold off the group for 3 hours on my own?  I had the pleasure of my own motorbike outrider who was staying at the front of the ride which was pretty cool.

And that was it really.  I rode my balls off for 3 hours haunted by the fear of being chased down.


The End

By the last 10kms I was pretty tired.  I was starting to get annoyed with the kilometres not counting down quickly enough and I was having to manage my legs a little as they were starting to cramp up.

With 2kms to go I got caught.  Not by the bunch, but by a team of three Torq (the nutritional sponsors of the event) Pro and Semi-Pro mountain bike riders that had set off 20 minutes or so after me.  I jumped on their wheels and rode with them until the end.

This meant that I didn’t win after all.  I came 4th which was still pretty respectable.  1st of the amateurs or 3rd of losers as a colleague of mine would say. 

Here’s a wee chart showing the first 30 finishers – in the end there were just over 400 finishers of the 127 mile ride.  Quite a few must have switched to the shorter route.


PaulC had a great day also; despite some mechanical woe still managing 12th place.

Dragon Ride 2010

The UK’s favourite sportive apparently.  Last year I had a good run in this event which meant that I felt a bit more pressure going into this one which is only faintly ridiculous.  A top 10 was the target with about 1,800 starters.

In total 117 miles which is probably a bit too long and has a tendency to drag on a bit if you know what I mean.  Reasonably hilly but I still maintain it doesn’t make the best of the Brecon Beacons.  There’s a much better ride of this length on offer given the terrain.  It has a reputation as a hilly ride but I only recorded 2,500 meters which is hardly a great deal spread across a ride of this length.

The weather forecast wasn’t that great but actually it turned out rather well.  A decent Bigfoot contingent turned up at the start and we set off.  DavidM, PaulS, AndyC and I set a good early pace.  DavidM deciding that the pace on the first climb was a bit much and dropped off.  I settled for shouting “Colvin you cock, my heart rate’s already at 180”.  I had my first sign of things to come when my chain came off when shifting to the small ring on the front.  Fortunately I managed to wrestle it back on with the shifter.


I was feeling a bit dodgy.  I thought I’d try out a new nutritional strategy – never to be repeated – with a breakfast consisting of white rice, eggs and lightly smoked salmon.  It felt like it was trapped in my chest and every few minutes I’d burp foul salmon.  Gross.

Parlee Woes

On the next climb my chain came off again.  This time it didn’t shift back on so I was off the bike.  Being my usual cackhanded self meant it took a while to get the chain back on and I was in the business of chasing back on; just what I fancied doing up a steep hill with Colvin setting the pace.

This happened twice more on the next hills; each time I needed to get off the bike.  To say I was a little fucked off would be an understatement.  This problem was then compounded when I couldn’t find a gear on the back of the bike that would stick.  I managed to sort of correct this using the barrel adjuster but this meant I lost my bottom gear for the rest of the ride.

Bit of Progress

Attempting to chase back on for the third time I puked up some revolting salmon in my mouth.

I was considering packing at this point.  This was my fourth ride (out of 4) on the Parlee that had been compromised by mechanical gremlins; loose handlebars, dodgy chain and now front and rear mech problems.


I managed to catch up with PaulS in the end and I decided that I would carry on the ride; I was tempted to ditch out and do the shorter ride and head home early.

We were in a good little group with a terrific rider in Giant kit and a wicked looking new Giant bike.  We all worked well together (within reason!) and made it to the middle feed station.

Despite still feeling ropey I was cycling OK.  On a long 6% drag I put about 200 metres into the group, not intentionally as such, but just setting a good steady pace.  I considered riding off but thought better of it.

Serious Incident

Soon after we were faced with a Range Rover driving on the wrong side of the road heading directly for us.  “He will turn,  he will turn, he will turn”.  Jesus fucking Christ.  He didn’t.  I was second wheel, PaulS third.  The chap at the front of the group braked and headed for the gutter, I followed suit.  PaulS braked but to avoid an overlap of wheels pulled out a fraction to be whacked on the shoulder by the wing mirror of the Range Rover.  We were in a state of disbelief.

PaulS managed to stay on the bike somehow and pulled over.  His shoulder in a right mess.  The idiot stopped about 100m down the road and made several contradictory statements about why he nearly killed us.  I can only guess at what happened.  He must have seen us.  I think he was trying to shake us up a little and misjudged it.  That’s about as innocent an explanation I can find.  Either way it was fucking ridiculous.

PaulS was amazing actually.  How he managed to handle the situation so calmly and stoically I’ll never know.  This even extended to some well-judged comedy pointing at that it could have been so much worse; the Parlee could have been damaged! A first aider, then an ambulance and the police turned up.  PaulS ended up going to hospital to be checked out and fortunately (and incredibly) nothing was broken.

Better finish the ride…

With little motivation I decided to carry on – I had no choice anyway.  All hopes of a top 10 were gone but in fairness the mechanicals had probably done for me anyhow.  I slowly got back into the ride and actually finished quite strongly.  Working with the chap from Giant was fine until another climb came along and my chain came off again. I had to manage a bit of cramp but nothing too serious.  I motored up the Bwlych and then bombed back into Pencoed.


The teething problems aside the Parlee with the Zipps was simply awesome on the run-in to the finish.


Shitty, frustrating day in summary.  I managed 6hr08 but taking off my stationary time and adjusting for mechanicals I would have scraped a top 10, or 11.  On a better day without misfortune I probably could have made another place or two.  My time was also 10 minutes quicker than last year but minor consolation frankly.

AndyC did really well placing 7th which is awesome.  DaveM rolled in at 6hr17 – a good hard ride.

The route was well-signed and the support and marshalling seemed pretty decent.  The food stations always draw criticism but I thought there were OK this year.  The timing chip in the number was genius.

Pictures to follow perhaps.  Though pictures of me covered in oil don’t really appeal!

Parlee avec Zipp

Finally got my bike all sorted.  Should have gone for a decent set of wheels in the first place.


The brilliant mechanic at Bespoke also sorted out my “noisy gears” problem; it turned out to be neither the rear mech or the hub, but the SRAM chain.  Replacing it with a KMC number fixed the problem.

It might have been psychological but I think this might have improved the downshifting problem I was moaning on about last week too.