After careful thought I think I have decided on the direction to take on the Evan’s RideIt event I participated in this weekend.
While this is not a race report, it may be relevant for anyone considering participating in a similar event, or perhaps even provide feedback to Evan’s Cycles themselves. The event was based outside of Basingstoke starting in Cliddesden, and comprised of Fun, Medium, and Long courses. I put my name down for the long course of 70 miles.
This was my first cyclosportive so I went along with an open mind. The chip timing asserted that the event was not entirely for play.
Perhaps a bit of rewind would be a good idea at this point to give some perspective. Firstly Evans (a national bicycle retailer here in the UK) sell the event albeit cheaply as a Cyclosportive. Cyclosportive meaning that the event is certainly not by any stretch of the imagination intended to be a race, but rather a sporting event. Secondly the RideIt
element for novice cyclists encourages getting out there as ‘now you have bought it, ride it!’. Evan’s has the opportunity to perpetuate their brand positively with the event, promote try-before-you-buy shopping for those big buys and encourage cyclists to rent on the day equipment e.g Garmin satnav bike computers, which again they may later consider
Prior to the race clear route information was distributed via email. With some basic route guide information, I would suggest that some advisories on cycling etiquette may have been sensible and some clear safety advisories on essential in the pre-race documentation, once again considering novices are amongst the target populace for the event.
On the crisp November autumn morning of the event, registration took place at the Cliddesden Village Hall. A waterproof map was handed out to all entrants, in addition to a High 5 Energy bar, and a small tube of Nuun electrolyte tablets. The electrolyte tablets I personally frown upon and handed back, and gobbled the energy bar over a cup of hot coffee to warm some of the chill out me that had crept into the body during the six mile cycle from home.
After a brief queue up and equally brisk briefing which covered the basics, I was off on the road cutting my way through the frigid morning air.
The route markers around the course were postcard sized purple backed arrow pointers, thankfully these were in abundance. Of course the dread of missing a route marker hanging from a tree limb or shrub’s sticky branch prompted a state of higher vigilance.
To fairly explain the course is not easy. Were this a sporting event you would be disappointed since there were not a single marshal anywhere, many of the roads and lanes were narrow and blind around corners with the crossing of many a busy ‘A’ road. Alternatively if this were a ‘mates ride’ you would be certainly giving your buddy the what-for, after having crossed sections of deeply muddied lanes and seemingly foot deep, yards long puddles, staring at your beautiful bike in horror at the state it was getting itself in. If you were a novice you may feel like this is a very dangerous way to spend your Sunday and did all these people really enjoy changing punctured inner tubes that much? (a conspiracy theorist suggested a evil plan was afoot to promote the sale of 700c inner tubes). So as you see I am a bit bewildered as to who the target of the rider was in fact meant to be.
Mentioning punctures and inner tubes, I saw the first casualty within the first three miles, and another soon after, I lost count soon at ten. This made me realise it was a case of when I got a puncture not if. I think I ought to have been lucky were it not for a ‘snake-bite’ in my front wheel courtesy of a fast-ish gravel decent. In the time it took me to change the tube out and get my gloves back on (the challenging part) four cyclists had passed me. Luckily I made the places up again as a result of the short break, energy bar and a renewed back.
For my part the event was nowhere near as competitive as races obviously are, making for a more relaxed day. Very nice for this time of year. Motivation is a bit more tricky since you are not competing for places, so I conjured the mental image of cheerleaders waiting similar to those in American football at the finish line to spur me on. What can I say? It helped a bit, seventy miles is a long way.
Motivation aside, being me, I soon entertained myself competitively, catching groups of riders and slipping past with a smile, and a wave.
The question I always ask, would I do this event again? Probably not, for the time of year the course was unsuitable and there was nothing to be gained by participating in the event other than time in the saddle and riding about with a few more people. I’d suggest it’s probably a good idea to plan a long ride oneself or join a local cycling club Sunday ride, where the course will be of guaranteed quality grown through empirical knowledge of local roads and environs. Part of me, the deeply cynical critical part, still wonders if the route I did on Sunday was planned from the comfort of a chair on Google Maps. The upbeat part of my personality says it is a good way to get out on the bike for a long ride.
Let me know any thoughts you may have on cyclosportives, did I get this wrong?