Best bike ride ever!

Tamsyn and Stuart at the end of the Wiggle ride

It’s been another busy week with some swimming, baking and the New Forest Spring Sportive.

After all of my training recently, my lovely husband bought me a beautiful bouquet of Oriental lilies. They are my favourite flowers and they smell gorgeous.

The flowers that my wonderful husband bought for me.
The flowers that my wonderful husband bought for me.

Saturday swim

On Saturday morning, I decided to go swimming instead of running. I’ve only been swimming with the Tri Club on a Saturday morning once before. That was a session during the Christmas break, so it was not necessarily the usual mix of people and Darryl gave me quite a lot of attention as I was clearly a different ability from everyone else who was there. As the swimming pool isn’t far from my house, I decided to cycle there, which was a nice start to the day.

I think the turn out on Saturday was probably the usual mix of people. The first thing I noticed was that the ability level was much higher than the usual Lane 1 crew from Monday evenings. We had to count our strokes per length for 400m. I didn’t manage to keep this even for the 16 lengths, but it fluctuated between 21 and 26 for the section that I was counting. I think that when I’m not focussing on reaching at the end of each stroke then I don’t make as much effort as I should.

We then moved onto my favourite part of the session: 200m of kicking. I like kicking as I don’t need to worry about breathing or what my arms are doing. I started as the last person in lane 1, but by the end of the 200m, I had passed all but one person. Unfortunately, we also had to do some backstroke and I failed to keep in a straight line, veering up into the wrong side of the lane, which made one of the ladies in the lane very angry – oops!

New swimming PB

Breakfast and a bell

After swimming, Liz and I collected our bikes and walked to Boulangerie Victor Hugo, a new French bakery, with Sonia and Suzanne. Stuart and Katherine had been to parkrun so they were already there waiting for us. The breakfast deal there is very good: half a demi baguette, a croissant, butter, jam and a hot chocolate for under £5.

After breakfast, we set off on our bikes for a bike shop, as I’ve broken the bell on my hybrid bike and wanted a replacement part. unfortunately, the shop didn’t have a replacement part in, but they fitted a replacement bell for me – thank you CycleWorld! We then set off on a scenic ride home. Katherine and Stu both had road bikes, whereas I had a heavy bike with full panniers, so we didn’t go too fast… and all three of us were wearing jeans. We ended up cycling about 10 miles.

Home-made pizza

In the afternoon, I decided to try out a ‘recipe’ that my cousin’s partner Lauren had shared on Facebook. I say ‘recipe’ as it’s a pizza base made of just two ingredients: Greek yoghurt and self-raising flour. There were two different pots of 0% fat Greek yoghurt in my fridge and I only had plain flour, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I mixed the yoghurt with flour and added some baking powder. Of the two yoghurts that I tried, it was easier to make the dough using the Fage yoghurt, but the Tesco yoghurt dough was wetter and actually came out better. I also made my own tomato sauce for the pizzas. I don’t think they turned out too badly!

My homemade pizza
My homemade pizza (Fage yoghurt dough)
Stuart's homemade pizza
Stuart’s homemade pizza (Tesco yoghurt dough)

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive

On Sunday morning, we got up early to go to the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive. 2000 riders take part in this two-day event. There is a choice of two routes: 62 miles or 84 miles. We chose the 62-mile option as I’ve only cycled 100km once and haven’t been on my bike much this year.

When we arrived, we had to register with our helmets. We were given time chips on our helmets as well as a High-5 bottle filled with gels and energy drinks.

My number

There had been quite a lot of traffic getting to the start, so the first riders were leaving the site as we arrived.

My only other experience of a sportive type event was the Garmin Sharp Ride Out last year, which was a much smaller scale event. I was amazed by just how many riders were here and was also hugely relieved to notice that there were plenty of women who were taking part. I also had time to look around at other people’s bikes. There were plenty of mountain bikes and hybrids, as well as some top-end road bikes.

The first half

The weather conditions were perfect. It was quite warm and sunny with very little breeze. I set off fairly quickly and decided to see how long I was able to maintain that pace. I’ve not really fiddled with the settings on my Garmin, so it measures my cycling in 5-mile laps. I did the first lap in a pace of 27.4 km/h, which is a lot faster than I’ve ever managed before and I wondered how long I would be able to keep that up. My best previous pace was 21.1kmph (although I have managed an hour at 25.5kmph on a turbo trainer). I kept going and really enjoyed being able to pass a few people.

We had to stop for a short while when we got to Burley. There was a Palm Sunday procession to church, which was fine, but it meant that I had no momentum to climb the hill out of the town!

I knew that a ‘cake stop’ was planned at the halfway point. I had tried to drink whilst cycling, but I’m not very coordinated and am still a bit nervous that I might crash, so I hadn’t drunk very much. At 50km, I really started to look forward to a break, but I was pleased that we hit that distance in 1:59.

It wasn’t long before we got to the rest stop. After finding a bike rack where we could park our bikes, we joined the queue for sampling the goodies: flapjack, Oreos, Tuck biscuits, jelly beans, pistachios etc. Stuart was very helpful. He retrieved my drink bottle from my bike and also held his hand out to catch my pistachio shells!

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014


Although there were bike racks, there just wasn’t enough room for everyone’s bikes. Bikes were leaning against fences and walls as well as being placed in ditches!

Cyclists arriving at the rest stop
Cyclists arriving at the rest stop

I enjoyed people-watching. There were lots of interesting jerseys and bikes.

The stampede for flapjack
The stampede for flapjack

We had passed lots of ponies, donkeys, cows and pigs. There were even a few New Forest ponies at the rest stop.

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014

The second half

After I’d eaten a bit and had a drink, I felt better and was ready to tackle the final section. I wanted to maintain the pace that I had set, but it was a long uphill drag for several miles. After we got to 75km, it was downhill or flat all of the way back. There were a couple of scary moments, including when a man stopped dead in front of me as one of his friends had dropped something, but I felt more confident than I have done before.

I kept pushing as I wanted a good average pace overall, and was really surprised to find that people were slowing down in the last 10km… but it was nice to pass them. Stuart had stayed with me for the whole day, but when we got to the entrance of the event site, Stuart sprinted off. It was a reasonable slope, so I just continued at a steady pace.

Finally, we crossed the line, and I was surprised that we were interviewed by a member of the event crew. I don’t think I really said very much, so Stu and I didn’t end up on the video, but our photo was one of 50 that appear on the main website:

Wiggle screen shot

Finishing Wiggle Ride
Finished! Being interviewed at the end…

We were then given medals and t-shirts.

How did I do?

I stopped my Garmin at the rest stop, but not for the Palm Sunday parade, so my cycling time was 4:08. However, this is not my start to finish chip time.

Garmin data for Wiggle Sportive
Wow – they’re impressive stats for me 🙂

My official time was 4:41:04.

Tamsyn Smith Certificate

I’m a little frustrated that we stopped for over half an hour at the rest stop… if I’d finished in <4:16 then I would have been a gold finisher!

Finish pose with bike
Yay! I did it 😀
Happy pose with medal
Happy pose with the medal

I really enjoyed this event and am now feeling slightly less stressed about cycling in the Pyrenees. However, when I see those mountains, the panic will probably resurface!

There were some nice photos taken of Stuart and me during this event, so we’ve ordered some. I’ll upload them here when they arrive 🙂

Finishers' t-shirt and medal
Finishers’ t-shirt and medal

The finisher t-shirt is quite attractive, and as it’s a technical top, I will probably wear it.

After the event, we decided not to hang around for hot drinks. Instead, we headed to Ringwood to get lunch and some hot drinks:

Post-event hot chocolate
Post-event hot chocolate

What a great day! 😀

10 Responses

  1. Wow. That event looks tough, but fun. Bikes really are cumbersome when you see that many in one place.

    • It was a lot easier than I expected – possibly because of the perfect weather conditions and also because it was mainly very flat. Sportives aren’t meant to be competitive races, but with that many people, there’s always someone to hunt down just up ahead! I’m now wondering how I’d have done if I’d entered the longer distance!

  2. Really impressive – well done. I’ll certainly look at the New Forest Sportive for next year although not a strong cyclist. In fact, we’re entered for the Isle of Wight Randonnee next month for the 100km round the island run……… bit frightened of that!

    • I saw something on Facebook about the IoW Randonnee and would have loved to be able to do it, but it coincides with something else that I’m doing. I’ve only been cycling on the Isle of Wight once and it was a bit hilly for my liking… but I was riding my work bike with it’s panniers on and everyone else in my group had road bikes. It was a hot day, so they all bought big bottles of water that they decided to stash in my panniers 🙁

      Don’t worry about not being a strong cyclist – there are bound to be plenty of people on old mountain bikes that haven’t been out of their sheds for a few years!

      I’ve heard great things about the Gridiron 100km randonnee in the New Forest. It’s only £6 to enter, so you might want to check that out:

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