Although looking longingly at his friend’s 32 cassette, Jimmy powered himself over the North Yorkshire Moors’ steepest climbs to become first finisher. “If you’re looking for the hardest sportive challenge surely there’s very few in the UK that can rival Struggle Moors,” says Jimmy. Discover how Jimmy gets fit for the sportive season and paces the epic routes.
From Zero to All Go!
I bought my first road bike on the Cycle 2 Work scheme six years ago and began life as a cyclist as a commuter. Soon enough I was riding sportives in Yorkshire and joined a local cycling club. The next challenge I set myself was to have a crack at local bike racing. I managed to move up the ranks, finally gaining my 3rd Cat licence three years ago and my 2nd Cat earlier this year.
I still commute – 20 miles each day – hitting a few intervals or extending my route a few times a week. I make sure I get in one tough training ride each week such as the local chain gang or a solid 60km group ride. Every Sunday I do a few steady hours with friends.
I have two young children (4 & 1) and a very tolerant and patient wife! I make sure I’m home for bedtime most evenings and we usually keep Saturday free as a family day. A really good way to sneak in some extra miles in the lead up to a hard sportive like The Struggle is to throw the bike on the car and ride back from a day out with the family.
I love hills and I love a challenge. I rarely ride in the Yorkshire Moors, which are truly stunning but very challenging. Ampleforth Abbey provides a beautiful backdrop for the start. There was the usual mix of excitement and trepidation among my friends. I was concerned to see some of the stronger riders in my group armed with 32 cassettes as we rolled out.
The earlier part of the route was a great team effort. We enjoyed fabulous lanes, suffered up steep ramps and stayed focused on technical descents. Each major climb claimed a few more riders in the group, so approaching Glasidale there were only five of us remaining. Glaisdale really was a horror! On a couple of occasions I pressed for another gear that wasn’t there.
In the back of my mind was the thought: “Will I make it up Rosedale Chimney?” which comes after 90 miles of the sportive. Dropping into Rosedale there were only two of us left. The steepest middle section had me craving a 32 cassette. Then came a fantastic feeling of elation on clearing the final big climb of the day.
Top Sportive Tips
I’d advise several long rides with tough efforts toward the end. Ride Struggle, the Dales edition, in May which is perfectly timed just over a month before Struggle Moors. Take the first half of the sportive steady rather than full on. If your legs are feeling good you’ll always have the final climbs to prove your strength. Go to hard too early and you’re sure to suffer.
Despite riding hard I lost count of the times I looked up and drank in the fabulous views. It really is a stunning route. It’s relentless; the really steep stuff tires the legs quickly and the fantastic but technical descents don’t allow you to relax for long. If you’re looking for a sportive challenge surely there’s very few in the UK that can rival Struggle Moors.