THREE RAPHA CONDOR TEAM RIDERS
THREE DAYS IN THE SADDLE
THREE HUNDRED MILES
If a one day ride is just not enough of a challenge, the three day Tour of Wessex offers the ultimate gruelling, yet rewarding, sportive experience.
The sportive is notorious for being one of the hardest rides around, sending riders climbing over the ridges and into the valleys of Wessex. There may be single day events that are tougher than each of the individual stages, but the cumulative effect of three long days in the saddle, and the fact that the hardest is saved for last, makes the Wessex a real test of endurance and recovery.
Click read more to find out about the Tour. Did you ride it? What were your best and worst moments?
For more images from the Tour of Wessex check out our Flickr.
The first day riders were met with spitting rain, and by the time they had set out on their bikes, a full downpour ensued, as Rachel, Claire and Tash began to climb through the beautiful Cheddar Gorge the rain began to soak them to the skin. Claire added "we all know what that soggy feeling is like so it wasn't to bad to deal with, we had to keep our pace high to get around the course quickly so not to get cold. Perhaps a high pace is not ideal as we have two days more to ride but you have to strike a balance between being cold and wet for another hour or sore legs at the end of the day.
Day two looped out to the coast. The toughest climb comes in the final third of the 120 mile day up Bulbarrow Hill. The climbers are rewarded with terrific scenery across Somerset and they paused at the feed station to catch a breath before heading down a long fast rewarding descent. "The final 40 miles back to the start village would have been easy, but instead we had to get in and drill some through and off riding to beat the headwind that was making the last part of the ride quite a battle." explained Rachel, "however it was in the sun and at least not in the rain."
The sun stayed on the final day but a combination of tired well drilled legs, headwind and mild sunburn meant that the riders felt the slightest of lumps. The worst climb of the Tour was still to come, Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor. The beacon hung over the riders the whole weekend and perhaps was talked up as some kind of mythical legend steeper and more severe than it really is. But thanks to two days in the saddle it was always going to be tough. Riders had every reason to approach the climb with caution and several participants decided it was too much and a walk up to the peak was easier.
What they rode - Condor Leggeros and Specialized RubyDay 2 - Rachel and Ben climbing to the finishRachel & Ben climbing to the finish
What they wore - Speciailzed 2D helmets, Speciailzed Womens Pro Shoes, Rapha Condor womens team kit and Rapha Women's Stowaways
What they ate - Everything! Jelly Babies, Fig Rolls, SIS Smart Gels, SIS PSP powder. In the morning they choose porridge with blueberries and in the evening there were plenty of pubs to choose from in the surrounding villages.
Where they stayed - a guest house offering bed and breakfast in the village of Castle Cary, 9 miles from the start in Somerton.
The Tour of Wessex is an annual event run by Pendragon Sports. For those of you that want something a little less taxing, you can ride a single stage and chose from distances of 12 miles, 73 miles, 106 miles, 117 miles and 106 miles.
The event has recieved a UCI status and offers feed stations every 25 miles, support vehicles, motorcycle outriders, timing chips, mechanical assistance, food, masseurs at the finish and the girls all agreed it was excellent well organised event.
Worst moment - Trying to ride into a headwind and knowing there was still 10 more miles to go and getting to a feed station knowing I had 40 miles to ride and not wanting to eat sugary jelly babies.
Best moment - A final fast descent knowing on Day 3 there was only 22 miles to the finish and the massage after a soggy day of riding.
Would you ride it again? - Of course, perfect for training. Not having to plan your route, simply following arrows when your tired is a lot easier than having to remember routes. The organisation is great, having plenty of food, savoury rolls at the feed at lunchtime and timing chips to keep track of my performance is great.
What could be better than 3 days exploring the hills of Wessex!! A full English at the beautiful Georgian farm house we were staying at was 1 such temptation. Even though the rain was pouring on day 1 and we had 100 miles to ride,the Rapha Condor girls put on every item of clothing we had to hand so we could attack the day ahead.
Worst moment - There were up's and downs over the 3 days. I had a chest infection that slowly got worse until day 3 when I could not physically get on my bike and ride!
Best moment - A particular highlight was climbing Cearne Abbas with all my team mates. I was just watching a sea of stowaway jackets ascend to a "Go on Rapha" cheer from the photographer!
Would you ride it again? Next year.... Day 3 is mine!
Data from Day 2 of the Tour of Wessex s below. We used the Garmin Edge 500 to record the ride."