Today was the Wiggle South Downs 100 Sportive and I was, as usual, booked on the Epic Course. See the panel below for further details on this and my decision:
Epic route was closed!
The day before the event, UK Cycling Events emailed to say they had been unable to set the course markers for the Epic 100 mile route due to the high winds of Storm Brian. They thus moved all riders who had entered the Epic route onto the 70 mile Standard route.
I’d been looking forward to riding the Epic route today as it would be my last 100 mile sportive of the 2017 season. I thus asked them on Facebook if it was ok for me to ride it anyway. I knew the feed station on the Epic route would be closed and was happy to self-support myself and I always carry enough food and gels for the whole ride anyway.
They replied saying I would be taking myself out of the event if I did so. Not a great problem to me as I REALLY wanted to ride the 100 miles (it’s called the South Downs 100 for a reason after all!). I did want a medal at the end. What I did not want, though, is to cause extra hassle for the already very busy event staff. Hopefully I did not.
As it ended up, a few things resulted from my descision:
- I missed out on the two remaining feed stations as they were packing up as I arrived at both. Not a problem as I managed to get a water refill from both, saving me time having to find a pub / cafe to fill up at. I had enough food and gels for the whole ride on me anyway.
- I missed out on official photos from SportivePhoto.com (apart from one photographer in the first 13 miles of the offical route) as by the time I’d done the Epic loop, they had packed up and gone home.
- I missed out on the timed hill climb at Butser Hill as they were packing up when I arrived. Not really bothered with this as I would never have made KOM but I did miss a bit of fun with it.
- The finish line was packing up when I arrived back (just before the event HQ closing time of 5pm) but I asked nicely for a medal and they got one for me out of the van. Phew!
- I did not get an official time or certificate for the ride as the finish timing was closed by the time I got back. Not a great issue for me.
- When I had finished the Epic loop and was back on the Standard route, they had already started to clear the route markers and I only caught up with them at the second feed stop at 60 miles into the ride. They then overtook me and I did not see any more route markers for the remainder of the ride. Had my own navigation with me, so not an issue.
- I rode on my own for the 87 miles from the point I headed off onto the Epic loop and using my own navigation. Again, not a great problem as I love my own company, but I did miss out on the social side of the sportive which is a shame.
Would I do it again?
Probably not, as I missed out on most of the things normally associated with sportives (see above).
I did get the last 100 mile sportive of the season done though and had a very challenging (wind in the face up most of the hills solo, so nowhere to hide and rest) but ultimately very rewarding ride.
I travelled down to the area on Saturday and went for a lovely Indian at this “fine dining” Indian restaurant in Bognor Regis that I’d been to before when I was last here to see my beloved Altrincham FC play Bogor Regis on a Tuesday night. Who the hell travels that far to see a footie match on a mid-week night? Me!
In the morning I was at the venue early(ish) and bumped into my Southern Sportive riding mate Andy in the car park. After a quick catch up, we went over to register, or rather I registered as Andy had already done so and so waited with the bikes outside.
We then set off asap as I was still in two minds whether to ride the Epic route and wanted to see how the wind felt on the ride before making a decision.
The route initially took us up out of Chichester into the South Downs and past the Goodwood racecourse. This brought back memories of Epsom Downs racecourse as I used to pass it every day on the way from home in Banstead to work in Epsom just after university.
The course split soon arrived and I had already decided to go for it. Andy was thinking of doing so too but decided to stick with the Standard route in the end.
The Epic loop was over towards Billingshurst and fairly flat, but still pretty undulating. The main thing of note on it was a road closure about half way round but thankfully there was a way route for pedestrians (and thus cyclists – phew!).
I stopped for my own feed stop by the side of the road just before Plaistow at about 30 miles into the ride. Some lovely cheese and marmite pastries my lovely wife had made me and a Rhubarb and Custard gel. Perfect fuel!
I rejoined the Standard route a while later and was soon at the 60 mile feed stop at Redford. They were just packing up so I refilled with water and had the same food as at my earlier self-imposed feed stop. Had a nice chat with some of the event staff while I was here.
After this, I was overtaken by the UK Cycling Events vans that were taking course signage down. Not a problem for me as I have it all on my GPS anyway.
The hardest climb of the course came a short while later at South Harding where the slope was just enough to make you put in some serious effort and unrelenting in its gradient for quite some time. I was glad to see the top, where we immediately went back down the same side of the hill! Doh!
The third feed stop at 77 miles was a familiar spot as the same village hall was used on the Wiggle Mega Meon sportive a few months ago. They were almost packed up here so I quickly topped up with water and was on my way.
Next up was the timed hill climb at Butser Hill. They were just packing up when I arrived so I would not get to be timed. Loved the fancy dress the two event staff had on though – would have been funny to see them at the side of the road with their cowbells encouraging riders up the hill! Shame I missed it.
From there it was pretty much downhill all the way to the finishing line back at Chichester College.
At the finish line they were packing up and I had to ask for a medal as I think they were assuming I had opted out of the event by riding the Epic course and would not be wanting a medal. Of course, I would! I love collecting my medals and having something tangible to remember each event by.
A great day out on the bike and a tough ride with lots of hills and LOTS of wind.
Route: click here
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