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Event Review

REVIEW: Wiggle No Excuses Sportive 2014

by Caven O'Hara

REVIEW: Wiggle No Excuses 

Essentials: 

Distances: 41 & 80 miles 
Participants: 2,200 
Start: Huntingdon Racecourse, Huntingdon 
Transport: Huntingdon Station 3 miles 
Feedstops: 1, 2 
Timed: Yes 
Signs: Recognisable now; white arrows on an orange background 
Road: A ride through tranquil countryside on decent, quiet roads. Taking in three counties with over 2,000 riders - is there a better way to start the season? 

There hasn't been much incentive to get on the bike and get outdoors in what seems like months. Yet over 2,000 riders made the trip to Huntingdon Racecourse for Wiggle's season opener - No Excuses. Head-honcho at UKCyclingEvents, Martin Barden must have called in a few favours as the hordes who turned up were greeted with very little wind or rain and the sun was desperately trying to break through. 

I was meeting a couple of friends, one of whom had never ridden a sportive before. Both live fairly near the event, but I'd had an earlier start coming up from Haywards Heath. Paul met me at the station, and given the steady flow of riders appearing as we approached the racecourse, many others also seemed to have plumped for an early getaway.

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Plenty of parking

Huntingdon Racecourse makes an ideal venue; plenty of parking, space for trade stands, a large room for signing in and a decent area for hot drinks. Despite the unexpected brightness, the temperature hadn't risen very high yet. 

Signing in was a doddle with an army of staff waiting to assist. Timing strip attached to the side of the helmet and it was time to find Tudor, the third member of the group and our sportive newbie. With all the administration taken care of we soon found ourselves on the start, listening to the riders briefing given by Martin himself. A few minutes later we passed under the Wiggle arch for the first time this season. 

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Ready for the off

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 Long, quiet roads

Heading south-west away from Huntingdon, past RAF Brampton, we were soon out on country roads. We then skirted Grafham Water for the first of two passes. It is the third largest reservoir, in terms of area, in England, and it certainly looked impressive even from a distance. 

With the field comprising so many riders there was never a stretch of road where you couldn't see someone in front or behind. This ability to see so many riders was helped by the relatively flat nature of the route.

The fourth edition of the season opener from the Wiggle series is all about encouraging riders out from their winter hibernation. It has the additional attraction of offering a number of riders their entrance money back if they turn up and ride. Those that don't will have their money given to a designated charity. A clever idea that certainly did the trick of persuading 2,200 riders to leave their sofas. What was also encouraging, having spoken to Martin after the event, was the 40 children who came along with their parents to enjoy a great day out; and that 30% of the riders were female. 

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Grafham Water

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A long line of riders

Passing through Stonely it was here that those doing the epic turned right to do their extra loop, with those on the standard turning left through Kimbolton and on towards Swineshead, where the epic riders would re-join the main route.

Having passed through the village it wasn't long before the feed station appeared. With two provided on the epic, and one on the standard, this one at Risely served all riders, regardless of their chosen distance, so it was pretty heaving. Given the vast array of food on offer - as well as tea and coffee - it was not surprising many riders were tarrying. 

After refuelling on fig rolls, jaffa cakes and flapjack it was time to tear ourselves away. Feeling refreshed we pushed the pace, and given the flattish nature of the route it was not difficult to do so. Working together or as part of larger groups we made good time heading back. There were a few slightly more undulating roads but nothing to cause difficulty for long.

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Popular these food stops...

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... and it's not hard to see why!

Villages came and went as the nature of the route allowed for a good tempo to be set. Before long the three of us found ourselves back at Great Staughton and on familiar roads. It was at this point a couple of hours previously we'd gone in the opposite direction on the outward leg. Now it was time to head back once again around Grafham Water on some long, gently twisting roads. There were bigger groups of riders now as plenty were heading back to HQ. 

Moving away from the reservoir it was a final push back into Brampton and over the A14 and back to the racecourse to collect a finisher's medal and a cuppa.

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Views for miles

WNE8Some of the other facilities on offer

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Tudor (left) and Paul (right) at the finish

Despite being the first event that Wiggle offered this season, this was a slick, well run event. The numbers certainly back this up. The route choices make for a great way to get back in the swing of things, and set the bar high for 2014. 

The video of the event can be viewed below: 

Feedstops: Two feeds stops with plenty of snack, sandwiches and drinks on offer 

Timing: Having already registered there were no delays 

Signage: There were plenty of signs and in good time 

Facilities: Parking aplenty at the racecourse with facilities for warm drinks, plenty of toilets and space for several trade/food stands 

Support: One of the busy junctions was marshalled and there was assistance if required 

Friendliness: The staff were chatty and friendly 

Website: Website is easy to use 

The Course: For an early season event it has the right mix in terms of route 

Would you reccomend it: As was the case for one of our group, this is an ideal event to those new to sportives or looking to get a ride under their belt early in the year.


Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 10 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 9 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 8 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 8 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 9 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 8 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 90.0%




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