We became of this event through facebook and other contacts, it sounded good, and a few of us were up for this challenge and signed up.
Welna had done a sportive this year (The Cheshire Cat) but the rest of us were new to the game. I have ridden Audaxes and CTC 'reliability rides' such as the Spring 50, but not a Sportive.
Nearer the time - actually only a few days before - we received the final details - it included the map and refreshment stops.
On the day - weather not promising to be great - we turned up, and 8 Fab Ladies were ready for the off. Lisa wanted to ride with her friends, so we waved her off; in the meantime I had met another lady (from Manchester Glow) who was on her own and welcomed the opportunity to ride with us.
I planned to let the main bunch go - 250 riders all setting off at once? no thanks, I will wait here and set off when they have gone - they will only be passing us anyway! It was markedly noticeable how few ladies there were across the whole range of entrants. As it happend, three Fab ladies got caught up in the main peloton, and shot off - only to be seen once more as our paths crossed near the Eureka! That was fine - the three of us that were left, and the Manchetsre Glow lady had also met another local girl, who joined us.
We had ridden 5 miles or so, when a van approached from behind - taking down the signs! The route was very well signposted, and Clare (the organisers wife) assured us we were on the right route (Garmin's were having a bit of a bleep fest, sure we were heading the wrong way!) and kindly held back on the sign removals. However, it still led to us feeling a little hurried - despite theorganiser telling me a couple of days earlier via email to 'take our time, enjoy it'. There was no time limit for this event, which is apparently unusual for a Sportive.
We bowled along the lanes with a tailwind, and the roads gradually became more familiar to us as we neared home, and less familiar to Carole from Nantwich as she moved further from home! Just after Ashton, the Glow lady (Cath) had irreversable trouble with her gears, and so had to pack, being picked up by Clare.
We finally arrived at Eureka - we had been passing the cyclilsts heading back since the back of Chester Zoo - and so we were the very last to arrive at the cafe - 36 miles, and no refreshment stops - and then only a bun at the Eureka. I believe there may have been miscommunication and the organisers were certainly not expecting that to be all we were offered. I also understand that the queue reached the road when most people arrived.
On our way back - now into a headwind - Welna had to head home to get a train and Moira also had to stop off as the distance and pace were not suiting her. This finally left Carole and myself to battle on. We were lucky that the weather stayed OK - no rain (but no sun either!).
Lisa finished first with a rocketing time of 3 hours something; Sarah, Jane and Jo-Anne 4 hours or so, and Carole and I did 5 hours 14 - which was an average of 12.8mph. fast!
This, however, is the beauty of the ladies group. We have quite mixed abilities, and while some are faster they are happy to have the slower more sociable ladies rides; but there are often other events through the year that you can join in with - and if you have found some female company to do that with, so much the better!
67 miles in total.
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