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Wales Velothon 2015 Race Report

Ironjediby IronjediJun 17th 2015
The Wales Velothon took place on 14th June, just a week after my 404km Audax. This was a 140km (87 mile) ride from Cardiff up over the notorious Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain climbs on closed roads through South Wales. I was going to ride this with my 16 year old step son, Jake.

Jake had not been doing much riding in preparation for this due to studying for his GCSE's and was quite worried. I told him not to worry, that we would just enjoy the ride, the countryside and the aid stations and that it didn't matter how fast or slow we were. He had also been a little concerned about the steep descents on the route and the rumours that tacs would be thrown over the roads by protestors unhappy with road closures.

On the Saturday we arrived in Cardiff, registered and then went to eat. We had pre booked at an Italian restaurant called Café Citta in Church Street, Cardiff. What an absolute find. A real rustic authentic Italian with an open kitchen. The food and atmosphere was awesome and I would definitely recommend this as a place to eat. We then headed back to our hotel in Caerphilly for an early night as we were due to set off at 8.05am from pen E1.

On Sunday we were up early, downed coffee and porridge and headed to Cardiff where we had pre booked a car park space. This was easy to find and reasonable at £4 for the day. We then headed to our bay where the scene down at the pens was hilarious. I have never seen so many MAMIL's in one place (I can say this being one) and there was a good selection of ProKit Wankers too. Once in pen E we had the nervous wait prior to the start.
At 8.05 am we rolled over the start line and within the first mile, the race was on. Forget enjoying the ride, countryside, aid stations and all that rubbish. The feeling of passing people at speed overtook this. Before we knew it we were racing along making our way through the D's, the C's, the B's and then the A's. We were flying. After a while we were joined by three other guys and we had a nice chain going, all taking our turn at the front. This sadly didn’t last for long as two of the guys dropped off the back and we were down to three. We pushed on at break neck speed, joined a couple of trains along the way, still making great progress. At around 45km I could see bikes braking up ahead. My initial thoughts were that someone had crashed. As I got closer it became apparent what the problem was. Some arse had thrown tacs all over the road. People were picking their bikes up and walking down the road with them, others were weaving their way through. This went on for about a mile or so. There were so many cyclists sat at the side of the road repairing punctures. I cannot believe anyone could be so stupid. Very, very sad. Jake and I weaved our way around the tacs at a couple of miles an hour, taking an educated risk.

Our train had now certainly broken up. We pushed on until we reached the first aid station at Usk at 60km. I faffed about far too long queuing for the toilet but then loaded up with welsh cakes to keep Jake going! By now our speed had dropped to a more leisurely pace. Out of the corner of my eye I kept catching sight of a train of guys who would almost catch us and then drop off the back. I figured it would make sense to catch a free ride for a bit as Jake appeared to be suffering slightly from the early pace. We slowed down and let the six strong group catch us. One man stood out in particular. He was an about average male in weight wearing a full skin suit on a half decent bike. We joined the group and Jake took his turn on the front, followed by me. My turnover of pace was still pretty good and I soon began to pull away from the train. I reined it in a little and dropped back, settling into a nice rhythm and the group came back together again. I moved over and dropped to the back so as not to leave Jake behind. We took another turn at the front and the same thing happened. Again I dropped back to the rear of the train.

Mr Skin Suit decided he would offer us some wise words of advice on the art of cycling “you boys need to stop trying to ride off at the front, you’re going to blow up and you’ll never make the big climbs”. This was said in a less than friendly manner and he clearly thought we were complete plebs. I just shook my head at him and Jake and I decided to drop back and just let them get on with it. About 5km later we turned left and onto the Tumble. Within a minute I saw someone I recognised further up the hill. Yes, you guessed it, Mr Skin Suit was standing up out of his saddle, weaving all over the road, puffing and panting as if he was taking his last breaths. Clearly someone had blown up on the first climb......and it wasn’t us! We climbed the hill at a nice high cadence and soon came level with Mr Skin Suit. Nothing was said, Jake and I just gave him the look (very similar to that of Lance Armstrong on Alpe D’Huez at the TDF in 2001 when he stared down Jan Ullrich)! Then we stood up and rode away from him just to cement the point. Needless to say we didn’t see Mr Skin Suit again for the rest of the day.
I had a good climb and managed to snap a selfie on the way up. I even managed to break Jake who normally kills me on climbs. At the top of the Tumble we skipped the aid station and rode on to the next at the top of Caerphilly Mountain at 124km. The route ambled to Caerphilly and before we knew it, we were there. Now I had only seen this on the TV and it looked pretty flat. It’s funny how a perception can be so wrong. All of a sudden we hit a wall and the climb began, there were people pushing their bikes up. It was a fairly steep climb over about a mile. Again, I broke Jake by riding off and leaving him to limp up behind me. I was loving it, for once I was beating him up the hills. That would teach him for calling me Lardy all week. We pulled into the aid station and Jake was at breaking point. He needed food and drink pronto. He poured some sweets into his mouth, chammed down two bananas and in what little space he had left, consumed a gel and a welsh cake. He gulped down a bottle of drink and was ready to go again. He had clearly needed it!!

I rang through to our supporters, Wendy and Zac, to let them we were on our way to the line. The last section from Caerphilly was really fast as we were keen to finish. Jake was still recovering so just sat behind me nearly the whole way. We were flying through the suburbs of Cardiff and before we knew it we turned a corner and were then into the finishing straight. I could hear Jake breathing heavily behind me and I knew exactly what he was planning. I drove down on my pedals even more to try and drop him, however he just stayed on my wheel. As we got within the last 50m I saw him pop out on my right and shoot forward taking me on the line by 1 second. I had nothing left to compete with his sprint finish. Bloody good effort. When we checked the results on Strava he had a second cup for the final straight out of about 3500 finishers at that point. Not bad for a 16 year old! He has now since dropped to a joint 4th all-time cup out of 4281.

Our finishing time was Jake 4:34:59 and me 4:35:00.

What a great race. The weather was perfect, the course was spectacular, the hills were testing, the tacs were very sad and the aid stations need improving for next year, however all in all what a fantastic race. However the most enjoyable part was being able to experience it with Jake, watching him push himself to his limits. He has made me VERY VERY PROUD! 
wildnrg001by member: wildnrg001, Aug 6th 2015 03:43
It sounds like a very nice and happy experience. Of course, what more can a dad ask for but to have a quality and awesome experience with his child? I think no matter what the result of the race was, you two are still the champions.
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