Event Review

Cyclothon UK REVIEW

by Sean Lacey


Date: Thursday 13th September 2013
Distances: 12 hour or 8 hour
Entry fee: £150+vat Solo, £250+vat Team
Start: Brands Hatch (full circuit)
Catering: Hot and cold drinks and food all day
Feed stops: N/A
Participants: 300+
Timing: electronic tag worn on ankle
Signs: N/A
Goody bag: Event jersey, XBOX360 game, towel, various product samples
Web: http://www.cyclothonuk.com/

I had taken part in this event last year after getting a taste for endurance events, and faired reasonably well. After an invite appeared to enter again this year, minimal thought was required on the answer; I would love to go at it again.

Organised by ex-Bath and England Rugby star Victor Obogu through his company VU Limited, the event is held at Brands Hatch, on the full GP circuit which is 2.613 miles in length and with a healthy dose of elevation, this isn't your usual pan-flat race track. Victor is a real character, always smiling and full of encouragement for those around him.

The registration process had changed this year, previously people arrived, registered, attended the compulsory briefing then the race started - this led to delays as people queued to register, missed the briefing etc. This year each pit garage, which hosted one or more teams (or in our case as solo riders shared with Gary's Bikes, the on site mechanical support) had its own host, who would register us personally after the briefing. This worked far better and ensured the whole process moved smoothly. After the briefing, hosted by emcee for the day Anthony McCrossan, fresh from a stint on the Vuelta and words from Brands Hatch staff, the timing guys and Victor himself, we all headed off to our respective garages to get ready. Having to leave my hotel at 6am I took advantage of the catering, which would supply us all day with food and drink, with a breakfast roll and coffee.

Registration, Giro style

Ready for the off

Last year I didn't really have a plan, other than to ride lots and see where I ended up. I had grand visions of 200 miles, which fell well short as the circuit elevation is substantial and progress can be tough when you start to tire. Initially I had a plan of 170 miles, the distance from home to the circuit. Once underway at 07:30, the weather played its hand - not as you may suspect at the start of September; but18 degrees and forecast to reach 30 degrees at its height. With two full bottles and snacks I rode for just over 3 hours straight, racking up over 60 miles.

Great start I thought! After a speedy pit stop to fill the bottles and take on more food, back out again on to the circuit. This time I only managed 2 hours, the heat had built up now and we were attacked not only from above, but the tarmac itself was cooking and additional heat rose up from the surface. Add to this the leg sapping climbs and we were all suffering. My fellow solo category competitors were all slowing up now from the effects, but still managed to plod on while I succumbed and decided to break for some lunch.

Fuelled all day long

It was pleasant to be inside to eat, out of the glaring sun, and a choice of pasta or baked potatoes with a multitude of fillings and sides were on offer, along with ice cold drinks. Timing screens lined the room and it was interesting to see some of the stats and positions, I wasn't doing too badly but the quick teams were (almost literally) on fire, putting in lots of fast laps. I guess the advantage of putting guys out for a few laps then resting in the cool worked a treat. Not so for us soloists though, and feeling guilty that the other guys were still out riding I headed out again.

Heading out again

By now I was not only cooked, but pretty tired too, so stuck to a routine of 10 or so miles out, then a quick break and resuming. In one break I skipped out for a massage, ably dealt with by a sizeable team of masseurs allowing me to get out again with the minimum of delay. By now the pace was right down on those early laps and I re-evaluated my 170 target, sure it wasn't achievable, lowering this to 150, which I though was. Passing very few now (those from corporate teams on MTB's) and mostly being passed at speed by the fast teams, my mood lifted as the clouds rolled in for the last few hours bringing the temperature down and making riding more comfortable. It didn't improve my aching legs performance though sadly.One last quick break before riding the last half hour, and it was over for another year.I had outdone myself all told, with 165 miles covered (ruing the lengthy lunch break, I could have cracked 170 after all) and an unbelievable 15,000ft of climbing - told you it was a lumpy circuit.

Gary's Bikes


Straight from the finish the prizes were handed out along with champagne on the race podium, before packing up and heading off to the main circuit building for a lavishly supplied pasta party and a well deserved beer (for those not having to drive 170 miles home!). 

Tired soloist


Pasta party

The whole day went smoothly and was very well organised and run, with the improvements to the registration process and the presence of the garage host a welcome addition. The facilities at Brands Hatch are excellent, and the additions organised by VU leave nothing out. There was never an issue waiting around for food, massage or mechanical assistance, which is a big thing if you are chasing a high solo target.

The food, in constant supply all day was good and the types of food available was the other big improvement over last years offering. The pasta party afterwards was great, and just what was needed after a big ride.The date has already been set for next year, and I highly recommend the event as either a solo day out or as part of a team, the atmosphere and camaraderie add to the day making it a fun challenge.

Ride data: http://app.strava.com/activities/80432340

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) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 10 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?) 8 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 87.8%

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