Below are some reports from Sportives we have completed, please note we have separate reviews of Paris-Roubaix, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Cingles du Mont Ventoux on the menu bar above!
In 2015 we hope to complete the new ‘Roof of England’ Sportive based in County Durham on many of the roads we regularly ride! £25 for 65 miles in some of Englands most beautiful scenery… check it out: http://roofofenglandcycling.co.uk/
Virgin Money Cyclone – Newcastle – 20/6/15
The sportive is part of a 3-day cycling festival that has been in existence since 2007, and is one of the UK’s most popular events. We did it for the first time in 2015, participating in the Friday evening ‘6 Bridges Family Ride’ before completing the middle distance 64 mile Sportive on the Saturday.
The 6 Bridges Ride was well organised, and at £8 entry for the ride, it was excellent value considering all participants received a goody bag with a t-shirt and bike bottle inside. The routes were well marked and we thought it was an excellent way to get little ones involved in cycling.
The main sportive on Saturday was also well organised, and the 64 mile route was excellent – mainly rolling country roads with the odd hill thrown in. The only real leg burner was the infamous Ryals climb (that Bradley Wiggins smashed on his way to winning the 2011 British Road Championship). The most pleasing part of the ride was the shear number of cyclists on the road giving it a real European feel like what we have experienced in Flanders, Roubaix and Valkenburg. The entrants of the 3 different distances (34, 64 and 104 miles) were set off at separate times meaning large parts of the course so you in almost constant sight of many others.
If we were to pick a negative of the event it was its lack of value for money, as at £28 entry we felt the feed stations were no where near as good as at other similar priced events. The 3 feed stations on the route only offered Water and Banana’s though did also have energy drinks to fill your bottle with. The event started and finished at Kingston Park stadium, with parking costing a further £8 including booking and delivery of ticket. We got a t-shirt and bottle in our goody bag, but quite honestly would have given them up for some good quality feed stations such as at the Eden Valley Epic (£20 entry), Columba Chemo Classic (£15 entry), Paris-Roubaix CycloSportive (£5 entry) Tour of Flanders (£25 entry).
Eden Valley Epic – Penrith, Cumbria – 22/3/15
Ran by Epic Events, at £20 a person this Sportive is quite possibly the best overall one we have done in the UK so far!
The team spent the night before at their Cumbrian base in Little Corby and caught up with several old friends in Messrs Weiser, Galahad, Berg and McEwans over 15 pizzas and a sauna! The lads were up at 5:45am raring to go, and after several high-caffeine coffees and bacon butties hit the road down to the start town of Penrith.
Arriving at the Leisure centre at around 8:45, the car-park marshalling was first class, as a space was well found by the volunteers for Diggers to set up camp. Timing chips were slotted on to the front skewer of each bike and TSC roared over the start-line at 09:30. The route was almost entirely on quiet country lanes and we can’t have seen more than 10 cars all day. The route had some stunning scenery as the weather stayed sunny and bright all day, although a little windy at times.
The feed station at Appleby after 34 miles was as well stocked as any we have seen, with unlimited amounts of sandwiches, cakes and flapjack as well as tea, coffee and juice on offer.
The route was rolling almost the whole way, with a couple of decent but not too hard climbs thrown in. At all times other cyclists were passing and being passed making for a really top atmosphere. The course was well signposted and Epic Events had cyclist marshalls mixed into the some 1,066 entrants. TSC welcomed trialist Karl Walker who performed admirably and looks set to be offered a place in the squad as competition hots up.
The effort at the feed station was more than matched at the end, as a jacket potato with choice of filling, salad and tea or coffee was dished out to every happy customer! Great weather, great event, must do again!
Columba Chemo Classic – Richmond, North Yorks
The guys at Columba organise 2 sportives a year, the Cardio Classic around March time and the Chemo Classic in November, each using a different route. Having previously completed the Cardio, it was time to test our legs on this punishing 62 mile Chemo Classic. The Sportive is limited to 400 places with entry being £15. Its hard to find a better value sportive anywhere in the country!
Route Map & Profile: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/550780262
The start-house is at Richmondshire Cricket Club and the organisers allow entrants to roll out any time after 7:30am. After we had signed on, received our number and told the time keeper we were about to start at 8:30 we made our way out towards Leyburn and Kettlewell, riding on the same roads as the peleton of the 2014 Tour de France! The route includes 3 main climbs with the first one being before the half-way point of Kettlewell, the second leading over Buckden towards the feed station at Thoralby and the final leg stinger being Grinton Moor before the descent back to Richmond.
The feed station was well stocked, small sausage rolls, heaps of flapjacks and butterfly cakes, a choice of Veg or Tomato soup and gallons of tea and coffee! Once finished there all entrants get a Baked Potato with beans and a cup of tea or coffee! Not bad for £15 with much of the money going to charity. Well recommended.
Jennings River Ride – Big Ride Out – Keswick
The Sportive is ran out of Keswick and features several different lengths, starting from a 10 mile family ride to the 74 miler we chose to do. The sportive cost £30 with money going to charity and seemed decent, but not brilliant value. However, if you are looking for a sportive with some seriously steep climbs, then this is the one for you!
We signed up online, and you can sign-on to the ride either the day before at Fitz Park in Keswick where a big tent is put up. Signing on was very quick and hassl-free. The next morning it is important you turn up in your allocated start time (depending on length of ride) as we were 10 minutes late and this seemed to be a big deal!
We were close to the last setting off, and so cycled most of the route with the marshal whose job it was to follow the last man, he was a nice guy and good crack. The route itself was exactly as we expected – rolling for 50 miles with a few small climbs and some nice scenery before getting back to Keswick and heading out to the passes for an incredibly tough last 25 miles!
A couple of short steep climbs lead up to Whinlatter Pass which was the first real sustained effort before the final feed station at Braithwaite. From here Newlands and Honister pass were real tests, with many pushing up such was the steepness, then it was a nice fast roll home to Keswick.
The feed stations were very well stocked – water, crisps, cakes, sandwiches, flapjacks etc, but no energy products. This wasn’t a big deal for us, and we think it was down to the sponsors being local supermarkets who donated food. There certainly wasn’t a shortage!
At the end we expected a beer tent (with Jennings being the prime sponsor) and some fun, however Jennings at gone home by the time we finished at 3:30pm and a few kids fair ground rides were all that remained, this was the biggest disappointment for us.
Would we do it again – Yes! It was a very tough route, well sign-posted at all points and with well stocked feed stations and timing chips included too.
Colomba Cardio Classic – 16.3.13
A nightover at a nearby campsite helped us get a little bit more sleep ahead of the 7:45am sign in. The ride pleasingly allows all entrants to sign on after this time and set off any time before 9am, we finally got away at around 0840, shortly after learning that the biggest draw to the ride – Buttertubs Pass – was sadly closed due to snow.
Thankfully Colomba did an excellent job of quickly arranging a different route to get over the dales to the feed station in Askrigg and organised the movement of all signage as well as getting a marshall on the new turn off point. Around 300 riders started the event, with us in the back 20% to leave the cricket ground start point, which was excellently organised and efficient in getting all riders quickly registered and on the computer timing system.
The first 16km were along the rolling road towards Reeth before turning left and climbing Whipperdale Bank towards Leyburn. The climb saw snow either side of the road but thankfully no ice on the road. Once the climb was summited there was a lovely descent down followed by some rolling roads all the way to the Askrigg feed station on 41km. The feed station was fantastically well stocked, with plenty of Tomato Soup, Flapjack, Sausage Rolls and cakes to go around as well as Tea, Coffee and Energy drink top ups for your bottles! This was particularly impressive considering our estimate of starting in the back 20% of riders.
After the feed station things got tough, really tough. A series of 20-25% climbs were scattered along the remaining 32 miles of road, with some real killers sapping energy from the legs right to the very final climb back up to the cricket ground in Richmond. Our GPS computers logged a total of either 1440m or 1580m of ascent depending on who’s was more accurate, but both well above the expected amount. GPS DATA HERE: http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/167345243/7327347
After registering as finishing there was again plenty of food on offer with all riders enjoying a baked potato, cheese, beans and lots of cake and flapjack! Tea and Coffee was again free, and with the Cricket Club Bar being open too, a celebratory pint was enjoyed. All in all we couldnt praise this event enough, great organisation, tough route, well stocked feed station, good cause and great value. We will be back!
Tom Simpson Memorial Ride
We have completed this memorial ride in both 2011 and 2013 and has been great both times. Simple in its design and execution, the ride simply sees entrants make a donation to The Tom Simpson Memorial Fund and selected other charity and are signed on and given a route map to follow. The route is almost dead flat with the odd bit of rolling road, but no climbs as such to speak of.
Entrants have included Ben Swift and the Downing brothers which sees some fast paces set at the front, with more TSC usually found in the back groups at a more comfortable speed. The route does however allow good speeds to be gained and some strong efforts are required in the various sectors that see a lot of side and head winds.