As we rolled into the Markeaton Park Craft Village, the butterflies started, not from nervous butterflies but excited ones. This was the fourth Cycle Derby Sportive I’d attempted and knew that we were in for a great few hours in the saddle.
The sportive village was set up to deliver all we needed to get ourselves ready for the ride, The Wolf Hut was on hand for coffee and food, (more on that later), last minute tweaks and pumping of tyres was being overseen by Bike Back Derby and Sustrans and, the Sporting Joint were setting up ready to receive weary legs. There was a great vibe in the village, as we supped on our pre-ride coffee it was great to bump into some old faces and lots of new ones, lots of smiles and laughing and lots of last minute “pit stops”!!!
Before we knew it, it was time for the off. We’d been ushered to the starting line and joined by about another 300 or so cyclists who were also riding the 80km route. After a few words of wisdom from “Mr Cycle Derby”, I think he called it a safety brief, that was it, we were off! As we rolled along the crispy sounding drive and out through the gateway, we hung a right and I thought, this is going to be a great day. We weren’t going to be disappointed!
The first fifteen or so miles were a great warm up for the legs, a few rolling hills with some nice descents past Kedleston and out towards Carsington Reservoir. There was also the KOM & QOM to have a go at. Without a doubt, I have no chance of ever claiming this prestigious accolade, but in my head, at that time, in that place, I’m in with a chance!!! NO CHANCE!!
So, fast forward to Carsington and it’s where the first food station was located. The Cycle Derby Sportive never disappoints or scrimps at its food stations. Sausage rolls, cheese rolls, bananas, flapjacks, pork pies, jelly babies. There was more, I just couldn’t fit anymore in!!! You will never go hungry on one of these sportives. Also, if you needed to have a minor bit of tinkering doing to your bike before you moved on, the guys from Cycle Republic were on hand to help, thankfully we didn’t need them but it certainly give you a bit of confidence that there is help on hand if you need it.
Moving on then. Leaving Carsington we headed up towards Brassington and into the Peak District and on to Two Dales. The hills were calling and so was the wind and the rain!! It wasn’t that the wind and the rain were terrible but add the hills and there were certainly some words being muttered you wouldn’t want your children to hear!!! Thankfully the tricky weather didn’t last too long, the hills, however, seemed to go on, and on, and on!! From then on it seemed like it was hill, after hill, after hill. The climbs were great and the descents were sometimes thrilling and also a little bit whoa!!!!!!! And after 35 miles or so, it was a welcome site to see our final feed station at with the same brilliant selection of goodies!!
Refuelled and now ready to face the final stretch, we moved on. The hills kept on coming, taking us through some outstanding Derbyshire countryside. At this point it is definitely worth mentioning about how well the route was signposted. Every turn was given plenty of notice as to when it was coming up and you were reassured along the way with plenty of arrows continually pointing you in the right direction. I had the route on my Garmin but, I can confidently say that, I would’ve easily got around the course by following the signs provided. Easy, peasy! But the hills kept coming!
So, as we cycled through the rollercoaster hills of the last 15 miles or so, Derby finally came within sniffing distance once more as we entered Duffield. This did mean one last hill though, which I’m sure everyone was ecstatic about!!! Cumberhills Road! I know one of the guys I was cycling with had some choice words to say about it at least! Once climbed though, it was a very pleasant and welcoming roll home.
Back at Markeaton Park, with a big sigh of relief, a great big, shiny medal was placed over my head by one of the many amazing volunteers. The volunteers whom we encountered throughout the day were all brilliant. It was always great to see their happy, smiling welcoming faces as we pulled up to a feed station. And within the event village, they couldn’t have been more helpful, so a massive thank you to those awesome people.
One last thing to do now, food!!! And once again Duffo had lined up the Wolf Hut to provide us with an array of extremely tasty recovery food. As I had experienced the “On Yer Bike” bagle at a previous event, I was recommended to try the “Woolfy Matar”. I wasn’t disappointed! Perfectly spiced mince, in a tasty sauce, a little bit of cooling yoghurt sauce and some nan bread to mop it up! Perfect!! Try it if you have a chance, I’m sure you’ll love it.
If you were thinking of doing a sportive and considering one of Duffo / CycleDerby Sportive challenges, then I would certainly recommend it. There is a distance for everyone from beginner to seasoned cyclist. The organisation, communication, staff, volunteers and support are all absolutely brilliant and the medal this year was the best yet, (integrated bottle opener no less)!!!
Thanks Duffo for another spectacular sportive, see you in April 2019!!