Event Review

REVIEW: Evans Cycles RIDE IT Hampshire Sportive Cross

by Andy Dawson

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REVIEW: Evans RIDE IT Hampshire Sportive Cross 

Essentials: 
Date: Sunday 7 December 2014 
Distances: 26/44mile off-road sportive distances 
Entry fee: £18.50 
Start: Basingstoke 
Feedstops: one on short CX route 
Catering: caramel flapjack, sweets, power bars, energy drinks 
Timed: yes, disposable helmet sticker 
Signs: yes 
Roads:  mix of tarmac and dirt roads plus wet grass lanes and mud 
Goody bag: High 5 sample pack 

Sportive-cross is a new phenomenon that is starting to make people sit up and take notice. This type of event mixes regular tarmac riding with off-road sections. It requires bikes with knobbly tyres and riders with good handling skills.  

I went out to Hampshire last Sunday to try it out. The well-established Evans "RIDE IT" series was running an event starting in Basingstoke and featuring a wide range of ride options - from fun run, through the normal sportive (3 route options) and then the new cross-country routes - 26 and 44 mile options. This was the first time Evans had offered CX routes. 

I've never done an Evans event before and found it just a little different.  Good marshalling to get us into the school-based event HQ was followed by a slightly annoying rule which required bringing your helmet to the event sign-on, which caused extra wandering about. There was a little trail of cyclists walking into the HQ without their helmets and then walking out to fetch them.  

ESC1

About 300 were doing the various normal sportives, and 35 or so had signed on for the cross-country versions. Once my shiny, clean cyclo-cross bike was fully prepped I set off for the start to receive a good briefing about routes. This sounded complicated as us CX riders were to follow the normal road sportive pink signs but then watch out for yellow CX signs that would divert us off the tarmac and across the fields. In practice this turned out to be totally clear as there were loads of signs so you always knew where you were going. 

The actual start was a bit strange - I guess a standard Evans format though - where, after the briefing, we all got off our bikes and walked through the inflatable arch/timing area and then got back on, clipped in and tootled off. Probably very safe and certainly ensures your helmet strip has passed very closely to the sensors, but rather an underwhelming send off. 

All sorts of cyclists set off together - kids and parents on the fun run, road riders and us CX bikers. Nice to have a mix rather than the usual "get in a chain-gang" thrash. Only a few kilometres in, the CX route diverged and initially continued on just slightly muddy tarmac, but then we took a proper turn off and the terrain became altogether muddier.  

ESC2

Through a gate the first off-road section started OK; reasonably solid mud with leaves and gravel. But it soon changed into a very wet, deeply rutted, squelchy woodland track. The mountain bikers ahead of me got off and pushed, so did I.  

Things got a little more solid and we started to ride up a low slope. As a committed roadie this didn't look like anything; may be 3%. But the terrain was wet, muddy grass with deep ruts and a very narrow crown.  No doubt regular CX riders are used to having their rear wheel spin around with just 25% traction but it was new to me. Further sections were incredibly muddy and suitable only for tractors. I've never pushed my bike so much on the flat. 

Eventually this section was over. I was in shock. Clearly this off-road stuff is different from tarmac and I seemed not to have the skills. A short piece of heavenly on-road riding led to a second off-road section. This was a long climb up a very muddy and leaf strewn bridleway with only limited opportunities to actually ride the bike. 

An essential piece of kit was the short stick I picked up to help me clear the wheel arches and brake blocks at regular intervals. Pretty soon I was questioning my decision. I seemed to be last and struggling to make any headway. Had I over-extended and not prepared properly? 

ESC3


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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 9 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 8 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 9 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) 7 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 82.2%




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3 Comments

dhague
12th December 2014 8:10pm dhague wrote:

I did the long sportive cross route, and I agree that the offroad sections up to the first feed stop were much more bog-like than I expected. Apart from that though, I really enjoyed the day and having hot showers and hot food at the end was a real bonus. I do like how friendly the Evans events are, both the staff and the wide range of riders. I'll be back for more!


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