Event Review

REVIEW: Cycletta Cheshire 2014

by Sarah Lewis

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REVIEW: Cycletta Cheshire 2014 

Date: Sunday 28th September 2014 
Distances: 20, 40 and 80km 
Entry fee: £28, £38 or £42 
Participants: 700 
Start: Tatton Park, Cheshire 
Feedstops: One for 40km and two for the 80km participants 
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride 
Timed: Yes (electronic chip on helmet)   
Signs: Yes, with marshals at most junctions 
Support: Mechanic tent at event HQ and moto assistance on the roads 
Goody bag: Very healthy! Socks, bottle, lots of little tasters and a bunch of flyers 

The Cycletta series of women-only bike rides now boasts six events from Scotland down to the New Forest and a few locations in between. With Victoria Pendleton at the wheel of the marketing and PR push, the calendar of events (organised by the very experienced Human Race) seems to grow in popularity every year in parallel with a continual upward trend in the number of women taking up - and continuing - cycling. 

The series has many supporters and partners, but the most important of these is perhaps the Breeze cycling network which is part of British Cycling. While I'm not sure of the most up-to-date figures, the campaign encouraging women to feel more confident to go out for a ride is still riding a wave of momentum that has been building since the London Olympics, and it's pretty exciting to be part of this legacy and see it first-hand on a Sunday morning in late September, taking over the grounds of a grand old estate. 

Cycletta HQ

Riding to the event HQ through Tatton Park was a lovely way to start the day, where the only life around included fellow participants, some keen-o joggers and little clusters of pretty sizeable deer right up at the edge of the road. Then rolling into the HQ itself there was already a fair bit going on, with small children running and cycling up and down what would later be our starting straight, taking part in the Scootathlon. This is a sort of mini triathlon for kids, where they scoot, bike and then run the very short course, all under the watchful eye of parents and organisers in hi-vis. 

Within the HQ 'paddock' there was a good jumble of tents including the all-important registration/info gazebo, as well as a couple of food trucks for a last cup of tea or hot bap, a couple of sponsor tents and a green Macmillan area, hosting the charity for which the majority of riders were raising money for. While fundraising was by no means required, it was a really nice addition to the event where some participants clearly had a reason to ride that went beyond the physical challenge and enjoyment of cycling. 

Not an ideal women : portaloo ratio

Just some of the 700ish women riding

Once the wee ones were all done, attention turned to the start of the Challenge route (80km) which I was down to ride. The only issue here was that I was only about half way through a fairly lengthy toilet queue when the call was put out to make your way to the start. Luckily, we were given quite a bit of time to assemble and were set off in small groups of about ten riders apiece every five minutes, making for a relaxed start. Everyone on the start line was really chatty and while there was definitely a leaning towards groups of friends rather than individuals (perhaps more so than other sportives I've ridden), it was definitely welcoming. 

A couple of corners and a cattle grid away from event HQ, the route tracked back via my original journey into the park where there were definitely more people about - as well as the deer and some sheep thrown in there for good measure. Out through the main gates however, we took a sharp right and headed pretty much north up alongside the perimeter wall of the park. 

Starting at 8am, it was really quiet on the roads so not much by way of traffic to worry about. This first section of the route headed up via Ashley, before bending south towards Mobberley. At a split in the road just before Mobberley station however, we were directed left to start out on what would be the first of two loops of an 18-mile circuit. At this stage, there were a large number of riders spread out down the road and it was great to just roll along through the slightly chilly morning on some lovely Cheshire lanes. 

No chance of getting lost

Time to chow down 

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 6 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 9 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 10 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 8 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?) 6 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 80.0%

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