Cyclosport.org REVIEW: The Midland Monster
by Adam Tranter
Words by Howard Johnson
Photos by George Burgess
If confirmation is needed of the growing popularity of sportive events, then the presence of three professional riders at one small event is a testament to sportives and their attraction.
The Midland Monster, run by CC Giro in association with Wheels in Wheels, is in its second year and with 400 riders registered, and over 40 paying on the day, the turn out was good.
Whilst given the option of a 73 mile or 103 mile route, both were to test stamina and skill, as some descents were technical.
An additional bonus was the weather. Last year the gods bestowed wind, rain and sleet,Â however this year was just the micro climate that is the Peak District, and a constant headwind - but at least the sun was shining.
The course allowed the riders to warm up, with some rolling roads on my very own training loops, and the first 30 miles were just a prelude to the harder miles that lay ahead. Leaving the Rosliston Forestry Centre the route takes the riders through some small villages and on quiet back roads in Derbyshire.
There are a few little rises in elevation at Needwood and then down and over the A38 into the foothills around Marston Montgomery and Norbury before the first test of the day, Stanton Bank. This is a tough little climb, catching out the rider with its severity at the bottom, before winding up to the first feed station of the day.
Feed stops were at 35 and 70 miles, and were well stocked with High 5 energy drinks, gels, cakes, water, bananas and, in Ashbourne, a savoury touch with sausage rolls.
A quick drop down to Waterhouses and the road kicks up again, this time to Winkhill and Bottomhouses.
The route is on the edge of the Peak District National Park and features some wonderful views.
The major climb of the day was at the halfway point of the 103 mile course, and took the riders up through Tittesworth and Thorncliffe to the highest part of the route, at 1580 ft, and views to take your breath away if the hill hadn't already.
62 miles in and the short sharp climb to Wetton leads into the fast descent towards Ilam and the detour though the tunnel, missing out the traffic in Ashbourne, to the second feed stop.
Whilst suitably fed and watered, and with only 30 miles left to ride back to the finish, there is always a hill kept in reserve to sap the last ounce of energy. This was the short steep climb out of Ashbourne on the Old Derby Road.
With gently rolling roads back to the Forestry Centre there was only the small rise out of Tutbury to Anslow and it was back to the finish for a bowl of pasta, certificate and a well earned sit down in the mid afternoon sun.
The Forestry Centre at Rosliston is not only a favourite cafÂ© for local cyclists; it is a good day out if you want to bring children for nature walks, trails or off road cycling.
Caught at the end, swapping their stories over a coffee were three generations of professional cyclist. Ex Cervelo Test Team rider Dan Fleeman, now riding for Raleigh, had ridden a lot of the course with Martin Earley, a stage winner in the Giro d'Italia and winner of a mountain stage into Pau in the 1989 Tour de France.
Completing the trio was John Perks, a legend in cycling. John rode 80 miles on his 80th birthday in February, a very cold and icy day, when I climbed off at 55 miles. John completed the 73 mile course in 4:48:20, so the training miles from the recent trip to Majorca must have paid off.
John Perks, MartinÂ Earley and Dan Fleeman
John's long and distinguished palmares includes Lincoln GP wins, pro rider for Falcon and riding the Giro d'Italia in the late 50's and 60's.
Dan Fleeman (pictured, left)Â
Dan lives locally in the Lichfield area, and has had a week off from racing to concentrate on some longer training, deciding the sportive would be an ideal way of adding some extra miles in to the diary. Riding the 103 mile route, Dan completed the event in 6:22:05 - probably spending too much time at the feed stops!
With a stage race planned in Norway shortly, Dan was using the sportive as preparation for the hilly stages. Following on from Norway is the National Road Race Championships, and then some racing in Portugal in July before further racing in France and finally the Tour of Britain in September.
This was Dan's first sportive, so if you want any more tips for the future Dan - keep an eye out on the Cyclosport.org website.
Nina Atkinson (pictured, right)
Relaxing at the finish after completing the 103 mile route was a local lady and tri-athlete Nina Atkinson. No stranger to sportives after riding in the Squires and Spires, Cheshire Cat and Tour of the Peaks, Nina was using the event as part of her training for the 70.3 Ironman Competition in Switzerland in June.
Nina was very complimentary about the whole day, and thought the organisation and routing to be very good.
Steve Hamilton (pictured, left)
Steve really enjoyed the day completing the 103 mile route in a respectful 6:47:49, not enjoying the climbing too much but, once at the top, taking in the spectacular views that the Peak District has to offer.
This was Steve's second sportive event, previously riding the Rutland CiCLE Tour Sportif. With no more sportive events planned for the season, Steve is in training for the Outlaw Ironman in Nottingham, and like many other tri-athletes, is using sportives as training for the cycle section of the Iron Man competition.
Steve was very pleased with the organisation and promised to be back next year.
Nigel Roberts (pictured, right)
Another rider that found the course hilly and hard was Nigel, and this being his first sportive ride he completed the 103 route in 6:30:59, a very good time indeed.
Nigel liked the start and the finish, and was impressed with the signage and feed stops on the course. With nothing else planned for the season, Nigel will concentrate on Duathlons and time trials.
Dennis Rooney (pictured, left)
Basking in the sun and recovering from his 73 mile ride in 6:34:25, Dennis needed his bowl of pasta as this was his first sportive event. Coming from a background in mountain bikes, he suffered a little from saddle sore!
Dennis didn't like the wind but thought the organisation was fantastic, especially the feed stations. Dennis has a top tip: train for the event, but enjoy it.
Hope to see you at a few more events later in the season.
Target time 103 mile route:Â Gavin Evan - 5:14:48
Target time 73 mile route: Darren Stone - 3:53:34
We liked: The route and scenery, and pasta at the finish
We didn't: The headwind for most of the day
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