So it was all in the pen for the 8.37am start and after a short delay, it was over the start line to the sounds of the chip bleeps and we were off loosening our selves whilst climbing up Fawkham road to the top of Exdown which luckily for us this week, did not include ice covered roads. At the bottom of Exedown three became two as Jimmy set his sites in making a dent in his KK time rather than have a couple of mature riders hold him back. So as Jimmy disappeared into the distance, it was game on for the Woolwich duo. 12 miles in and we hit our first real climb at Carters hill which put everyone firmly in their place but at least we had one hill chalked off even though Hubbard’s hill was not far off. By this time the drizzle that was threatening to turn nasty had cleared and the sun was beginning to poke glimpses of positive sunshine for the rest of the day meaning so far so good if you ignored the wind. By this time we had settled into a reduced pace as we know this sportive gets harder and harder and therefore allowing some time to take in gels, energy bars and to re hydrate.
We progressed on, hitting the slopes and hills the KK threw at us whilst moving towards Ashdown. You do have to chuckle at riders passing you on the flats with fully kitted bikes complete with Tri bars knowing that the next slope would grind them down to the same quality of the type of rider that you find in the London to Brighton, so that kept us amused as we started to head towards the half way stage, by which time we were well aware of the stage of the ride as the legs began to start their conversations with you. With the chips checked in at the half way stage it was onto the fast rolling road for the next few miles as we reached speeds of around 37 mph which was a welcomed relief from all that climbing. Due to the number of participants, you are never far away from the next rider or the next group and with the open road in front, one does tend to set ones sites on catch up points in the distance whilst making sure not to get too carried away. It was this time last year that my block in the Kentish killer came at the 45 mile stage when the body just feels like its being pushed out of its comfort zone and you begin to question yourself whether this was just to crazy to be doing this mid Feb. And just as I was closing in on the pinnacle point it happened and the feeling of light headiness takes over. Just before this, Paul had found his energy reserves nicely which must have been because of the pre start Banana and as I faded temporarily, Paul was charging forward creating a gap. The good thing last year was by 50 miles the energy bars and gels had joined forces to push me along again so I was hoping that I had this to look forward to again. A couple of guy’s saw me struggling and asked how I was doing which was very kind although “Come on the Woolwich” at the top of their voices was not that encouraging, but it wouldn’t be long before they were safely behind me and out of sight. That will teach them for next year.
I was nearing the 50 mile mark and was hoping that the body would gather itself together but there had been no improvement and I knew Ide hill was looming but it also meant a stop. And there it was at the bottom of Ide hill, like Batman being re united with his cape, I began climbing and overtaking fellow riders which put a huge smile on my face as it was game on again. Once at the stop I was greeted by Paul and we were back as the Woolwich duo once again. We had a 5 min stop, which was enough time to try the chocolate cake, refill the water bottle as well as let some out. So we were on home ground only with the big one left, Row Dow between us and the finish line as Star hill was removed this year as it was too dangerous for the number of riders to go up. As we progressed on Paul, was kind enough to provide the hint that Sundridge Hill may be a challenge but I was more happy that Star Hill was removed. Then of course we hit Sundridge Hill, and boy was I not prepared for that which in some way may have been a blessing as I just wanted to get it over and done with. So with gritted teeth, I pushed hard which allowed me to even pass riders whilst listening to their groans and moans. Once at the top I wasn’t so bothered about Row Dow because there was no way that can be any harder than Sundridge.
So we pushed on through Otford and up to meet Row Dow for the last big push. Knowing that once at the top, the Kent Killer was no more so I pushed on once more. Although the body was telling me that this ride had to stop my legs didn’t feel too bad but it was my head that was telling me that I should be having more leg pain than I did, and was hallucinating about getting off and walking.
But hey this was the last big climb and I couldn’t be doing with that. So pushing on to get this over and done with, I had forgotten about the up coming Tinker pot lane and continued to push with everything I had to get Tinker Pot out of the way . You could see that this was the final straw for a few riders as they walked up the hill which was a shame to be on the very last hill of the KK.
Then the dreaded cramp was starting to show it’s ugly face in both legs with 2 miles to the end and it didn’t feel good as I pushed with caution to get the best time I could. Pedalling with the left leg then the right as well as standing up, I was managing to just and then scraped through and finally rolled over the finish line to complete the KK 2014 sportive only to find out that when the time was released, they had added another 47 mins to my time. I have raised a dispute and have provided my Garmin data which proudly states completion in 5:09:43 and await the outcome. As I pulled on the brakes to slow down, Paul was also rolling over the line with relief etched on his face. Another fantastic KK done which added to the previous two years. As for Jimmy, well he was probably already home and chilling which is what you get for getting 14th place for the day.
So a Gold and Two Silver Times was a great showing especially after having to abandon the Hell Of The Ashdown a few weeks earlier.
It was a great feeling to have chalked this event off once more and to grab the bowl of pasta at the end in a very busy Pentagon restaurant. For anyone wanting to do a Sportive, then there is no better organised event than the Kentish Killer as you cannot go wrong with holding the start and finish at Brands Hatch. Yes it is hard and should only be tackled by advanced cyclists, but if you are looking to be part of the pain team then there is no shame in completing the shorter route of 44 miles in what ever time takes your fancy.