Event Review

REVIEW: Tour de Mon 2014

by Sean Lacey

GB Flag

Essentials: 

Date: Sunday 17th August 
Distances: 40, 75, 103 miles (6 mile family ride) 
Entry fee: £32, £36, £40 (family ride free) 
Participants: 1000+ entrants 
Start: Newry Beach, Holyhead, Anglesey, facilities available on site and a small amount of parking on streets nearby, town car parks recommended 
Feedstops: 4 across the routes 
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride 
Timed: Yes (electronic chip on seat pin flag)   
Signs: Yes, with marshals at most junctions 
Roads: Great coastal route on quiet roads with a mostly rolling profile and a couple of bigger climbs. Sag wagon and NEG riders on route to provide assistance if needed. 
Goody bag: Welsh slate coaster, crisps, seed mix and T-shirts available 

Having run a successful first event here last year, I was keen to see if Always Aim High had built on this with the second attempt; and after an early date change for logistical reasons, it made a perfect weekend away for me and my family. 

Originally slightly later in the year, it clashed with another event and I couldn't make it, but the move forward meant that I could, and on my daughters ninth birthday. This you may think could provide an issue, but she's currently cycling mad - attending my cycling club's youth coaching each week religiously, and getting pretty handy on the road bike we bought her last year, so she needed no convincing at all that an organised mini-sportive would be a great thing to do on her birthday. Another first for her was our decision to save costs where we could, and invest in some camping gear - this would be her first experience of camping too! 

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Calm before the storm 

As with last time, an event village had been set up with trade stalls, stunt shows, try-it-yourself demos and local food producers on the Saturday for pre-registration. We arrived fairly late after a leisurely drive up from Shropshire and time spent at our campsite at Valley (we weren't the only ones camping, all of the sites close to Holyhead were full), but most things were still in full swing. 

Having picked up my pack and got Abby and AnnMarie registered for the free family ride we headed back to the tent. On the way we bumped into James Golding, who was here to give a couple of talks on his record attempts, fight with cancer and his incredible fundraising efforts - which were well received. 

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Registration  

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Queue to start 

The weather had been forecast to be sunny over the weekend but with high winds, and sleeping in a tent, boy did we know it. 25mph winds all day (and night) were going to make for a challenging ride today, and as I left in the early hours for the 5 mile ride back to Newry beach I had my first taste of that horrendous headwind. 

It was also my very first ride on a brand new Raleigh Militis Pro I had been given to test; maybe not the best idea as I had set it up as best I could but as such it was untested, with 107 miles to ride. Back at the beach the place was buzzing, and despite my early arrival a queue had already formed to get out on the road. I met up with fellow Newport club member, Malcolm so that we could ride together, on a day where a little shelter would be more than helpful. 

First things first though, that 5 miles was enough to tell me that the saddle was too low and needed to be brought back a touch, so off to the mechanical support, which turned out to be volunteers from Holyhead Cycling Club, who kindly lent me allen keys to sort it as I required, and even gave me an old allen key to keep in my pocket should I need it again, top guys! 

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Flying Mile on RAF Valley's runway 

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Beaumaris 

Once ready we were set off in waves into the cool, breezy morning heading out from the harbour towards the lanes and beautiful coastal scenery surrounding the South Stack lighthouse. Following the coast through Treaddur Bay, then cutting across to Valley we had the unique chance once more to attempt a timed flying mile along one of RAF Valley's runways, with a raging tailwind for extra boost - sadly, no matter how strong the wind, my legs just weren't on form today and I didn't cover myself in glory. Malcolm on the other hand did far better. To exit the base we again left by the back door across a rough dirt track then a section of campsite field to re-join the road, with a very early feed stop here too. 

Heading south with the wind behind us still along the western coast, past the motor racing circuit at Abberfraw and the forests at Newborough we then ran along the Menai Strait before crossing the iconic Menai bridge, circling the roundabout on the mainland and returning once more onto the island. The road here gave stunning views across the Strait to the mainland, and some extremely pricey properties to dream about owning on the run into Beaumaris. 

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Bulkeley Hotel feed

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Hilltop views 


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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 7 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) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 8 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 88.9%




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