Today was the Wiggle Hawker Hurricane Sportive, starting at Turweston Airfield in Northants and heading out for an 80 mile loop around the rolling Northants countryside. There last time I had been here was a good while ago when I flew myself in for a quick cup of coffee on the way back from somewhere near London.
As usual, I’d travelled down the day before and so on the morning of the even I was up nice and early for the 23 minute drive to the event HQ. Today I planned to be finished by 2pm as I needed to drive up to a friends house in Manchester to get a quick shower before us all going out to see Metallica at the MEN Arena this evening.
I thus skipped my usual pre-ride coffee and went over to register and set off asap. Registration was the usual no fuss routine. There was a longish queue out of the registration tent and I feared a delay but it moved REALLY quickly and I was soon sorted.
As I approached the start line a friendly member of the UK Cycling Events staff called out “Hello John!” as she’d recognised me from the many of their sportives I have done this year. We ended up having a lovely chat before I went to the start line and was off on the ride.
I’m not familiar with this part of the country at all so it was all new to me. Nice undulating countryside with plenty of climbing but nothing too testing. A little chilly to start off with, but the sun was soon coming up for what promised to be a lovely day.
The first part of the route headed down towards Buckingham before going northwards towards Towcester and onwards to the first feed stop at Litchborough. Here I stopped to fill up with water, have my usual 2 home made cheese and marmite pastries and a gel, plus a good natter with fellow riders!
We now headed southwards following the Standard and Epic routes until the split at Canons Ashby where I took the Epic route as normal. This was a more testing part of the ride as there were serious winds from the west and this part of the ride was almost all straight into the wind. With some of the roads being on high ground with no hedges, it was seriously testing all of us Epic riders!
The second feed stop came at Wormleighton and I filled up with water again as I was running short – I’m on my usual winter 1 bottle strategy to save weight! Yes, I know I should really start to think about losing weight myself but I like my food and I’ve never felt so healthy as I do now. That’s a thing to think about ‘next’ week :).
After this, thankfully the route turned predominantly south-eastwardly and thus we had the benefit of the wind behind us. Bonus!
I missed the final feed stop at Wappenham out as there was only 7 miles to the finishing line and I’d made sure I did not need to stop for more water. I always carry enough food and gels for the whole ride, so it’s only really water top-ups I need to stop for.
The final section back to event HQ was made up of Epic, Standard and Short route riders and it was really lovely to see such a vast mix of riders of different abilities all riding together.
I knew there were no major tests in this final section and had plenty of gas left in the tanks so opened up the taps and was zooming past most riders, totally enjoying myself.
Back at the event HQ I crossed the line, collected my medal and some nice bonus goodies. I’d normally have relaxed and had a coffee and chat with fellow riders, but with tonight’s Metallica gig in Manchester to get to, I needed to get on the road and get up the motorways asap.
Needless to say I got to my friends in loads of time and was soon out in the Northern Quarter in Manchester enjoying a pre-gig curry and few pints.
Then it was off to the MEN Arena for the show, which was totally amazing. It did feel a bit weird knowing the terror attack that happened here a few months ago and walking through the exact area where the misguided guy set the bomb off. My thoughts were with all those who lost their life or were injured in it.
An amazing day doing things I totally enjoy. A perfectly organised sportive which was great fun and a great evening out to end the day. Fabulous!
Route: click here