64 miles - 14th September 2014
Location: Shrewsbury Town
The Wiggle Shropshire Mynd 64 mile route boasts 3326 ft of climbing and takes in two major climbs, the route starts and ends at Shrewsbury Town Football Club and takes a Southward clockwise direction. I did this sportive for the first time last year in wind and rain conditions, this time around the forcast is white cloud with a high temperature of 17 degrees, warm enough for t-shirt and shorts together with a light jacket if required.
Myself and my cycling buddy Paul arrived at Shrewsbury Football Club around 45 minutes early, plenty of time to prepare ourselves and relax with a cuppa before the ride began.
As the 9am start time drew near the riders started to congregate at the start line, once the rider briefing finished riders were stagger-started in small groups every few minutes. Myself and Paul started amongst wave number two. We first turned left out of the football club car park and then took a right at a roundabout, after a short ride down the B3485 road (which was pretty quiet at 9am) we took a left turn and started heading toward the countryside. In the space of around 15 minutes around 5 waves of cyclists glided past us, we assumed these were mainly the 100 milers. Not being much interested in times or 20mph average speed we soon found ourselves amongst fellow riders averaging around 13mph.
After the first 7 miles we arrived at our first major climb of the day, Harold's Bank is a Cat 4 climb which takes us to the top of the Long Mynd, this climb is 1.2 miles long and has a steady gradient of around 7-9% with a kick at the end of around 16-17%. It is a nice challenge to wake up the legs, we both got up to the top without too much trouble. The views once at the top were a little misty but incredible. I would like to return on a clear summers day next spring.
Along the top the riding was very flowing, there were very few cars along the quiet rolling roads. However, I noticed the route had been changed since the previous year and had missed out the prettiest part.
At around mile 20 we found our first feed station which was at Lydbury, on offer were HI5 bars, chocolate chip cup cakes and a special recipe flapjack with all manner of seeds inside which tasted delicious, we believe they are the same recipe as here. Next to the feed station were a couple of horses idly grazing in field, very picturesque.
Not too far after the feed station we then hit our next climb through Bishops Cleave village, this climb as another cat 4 and slips inbetween the village shops, it's doable if you don't go mad, I really enjoyed that climb.
Whilst riding the route the support van passed us a few times, it was nice to know they were close by if needed.
15 miles from the end was the biggest climb of the day, Long Mountain (This is another slight route change since the previous year). This climb is 2 miles long with a 20% max gradient, I started to steadily ascend which wasn't too bad to begin with but then it got steeper and steeper and wouldn't let up, I carefully carried on, this was starting to take a lot of my energy and I could feel it! As I caught up with Paul I was pondering stopping and walking however, as I could see the summit I resolved to carry on, as I was passing Paul I lost my balance a little and disaster stuck... I had to put my right foot down to avoid toppling over, and, just as I took the pressure off my left leg my calf immediately cramped! Luckily Paul was on hand to hold my bike whilst I froze in position holding my leg up for a couple of minutes, once the cramp resided I dismounted my bike and stood at side of road to recover, have a drink and bite to eat. I walked the rest of way to the summit only discover it was a false summit and wouldn't have made it up in one go anyway... ah well! Close to the real summit the photographer was perched, he didn't bother taking a photo - maybe the look on my face said it all! He did give a cheery "hi" as I walked on by though.
Once at the top I found Paul waiting for me and had another 5 minute break. For a while I was riding really slow, as expected my calf was tender and I was trying to work out how best to mount and dismount my bike whilst trying not to aggrivate it. I didn't want it to cramp again and was concerned I might have to retire, however, by the time I had descended Long Mountain around 15 minutes later it had started to feel better and regain strength.
The second feed station was 10 miles before the end which served ham sandwiches and egg mayo sandwiches which were ace, there were also gels, fruit cake and hot drinks. None of those lovely seeded flapjacks though - perhaps they had all gone. Another great feed station none the less!
The last 10 miles were fast and flowing, my leg had regained enough strength for me to get a decent speed on and was ok to get up any undulations without issue. As we rode back into Shrewsbury we hit the main road again which was very busy, we also had to also negotiate a 4 lane roundbout which wasn't exactly pleasent. The previous year's route had a different way back to ride HQ which in my opinion was much better.
At 3.30 we rolled over the finish line where we recieved a congratulations and our medals, we then went inside the football club for our goodie bag and a short coffee break.
The goodie bag was brilliant and consisted of:
Gel, electrolyte tabs, & energy drink mix
Eat Natural taster bar
Can of WD40
Obligatory water bottle
The bag itself
We also received a congratulations text notifying us of our rider times (6:28:15) - nice touch!
Organisation was spot on.
Nice countryside roads and views.
Excellent feed stations.
Brilliant goodie bag.
Route change: Missed out best bit of the Mynd.
Route change: Busy roundabout at the end.
10/10 brill day out, not too many cars about apart from near the end.