Event Review

REVIEW: Wiggle Devil's Punch Sportive 2016

by Caven O'Hara

REVIEW: Wiggle Devil's Punch Sportive 2016

Essentials:
Distances: 51 & 73 miles
Participants: 800
Start: Treloar College, Alton
Transport: Train station 1 mile away
Feedstops: 2
Timed: Yes
Signs: White arrows on an orange background
Road: A perfect end of season ride, allowing you to use the form you've gained in the year over a testing course. A cheeky hill opens proceedings followed a long flat section but it wouldn't be the same without an undulating second half. All on roads that were quiet, generally well surfaced with some interesting scenery to help get you round. 

Late season sportives can by their place in the calendar be a little bit of a lottery. In the lap of the weather gods as to whether you'll get a dry, bright ride or a soaking or possibly both. The 2016 edition proved to be a grey, chilled but dry version. 


A smooth sign on

The college chosen as the start/finish venue had ample space for parking, plenty of loos and the registration was simple and quick. With my number attached to the bike it was time to join the next wave of riders awaiting their safety brief prior to rolling out. 


Well catered

The roll out from the college into the fresh, grey atmosphere made for a chilly start. We needn't have worried as no sooner had we joined the main road but we then turned left onto the day's first climb. With ramps of 12% it made for an indecent start! Cold legs protested but after a painful slog that had riders weaving we soon topped out onto more level terrain. On one of the longer stretches I met up with three mates who were trucking along quite nicely and I asked to tag along. 


Hot drinks were much appreciated

The route headed out in a northerly direction before turning 180 degrees and heading south which was a predominantly flat, fast stretch punctuated with the occasional rise and occasional head wind. The foursome soon arrived at the first of two feed stations that featured on the day's ride with a healthy average in the bag. A quick hot brew to help warm up the extremities and we were on our way. 


Tilford

The nature of the route turned some-what lumpier here after. Subtly at first but the hills started to roll and replace the flatter terrain we had first encountered. With 25 miles under our belts we had now turned east towards Bighton and then through Ropely. Before long we had covered 40 miles and the course split. For those choosing the standard route they headed north and Oakhanger, for the rest of us it was a right turn and onto the additional loop that formed the extra 22 miles of the epic course. 


Bordon

Through Bordon we stopped briefly as one of the group needed a pit stop. A refreshing coffee and it was back out into the chill, grey air. Getting momentum again proved to be an effort. We pushed the pace and four became two as the undulations started to take their toll. The route then took us off on a spur leading to the second feed station.


Another watering hole

A quick top up and we briefly retraced our tyre tracks before heading for the star attraction and the signature place that gives the ride its name, the Devil's Punch Bowl. We were near the A3 Hindhead tunnel and a real drag of a climb as we headed north again. Shortly after passing through Rushmoor we clocked up 60 miles, leaving 13 before we would see Treloar College and the chance for a welcome brew. Just before reaching 70 miles we had re-joined the main route and by now it was a solo push to the finish. 


Rushmoor

Back at base after crossing the finish line, I was presented with a finisher's medal, T-shirt and the chance to take a protein bar and some well-earned snacks. Taking the chance to finally ride the epic route it was well worth the effort. This was a terrific ride on some well chosen roads made better by the dry day. A hidden gem and not that far from London making the early start a sacrifice I was happy to have made. 


Out of the Punch Bowl


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) 10 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) 9 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 9 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?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 94.4%




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