Event Review

REVIEW: Tour of Wessex - Day One

by Jennifer Trotman

GB Flag

The last Bank Holiday weekend in May was, as ever, the Tour of Wessex; something which I had, unfathomably, agreed to do again, shortly after finishing the last one. What was I thinking?  I quite clearly remember saying I'd never do it again having completed it, oh well... 

I was feeling under-trained and wasn't looking forward to it much if I'm honest, and an unpromising weather forecast wasn't helping. Well, it's an English Bank Holiday weekend, what else do you expect?  It looked like a reverse of last year, with nasty weather on the Saturday and a better forecast for Sunday and Monday. It's fair to say that waterproofs were not going to be optional. 

The front room floor was covered with kit as I tried to cover every eventuality whilst avoiding having to wash everything every day. But eventually I was as ready as I was ever going to be. My bike had been checked over, new brake pads fitted, and my knee had been strapped up that morning. Nothing left to do but eat and relax. Some chance... I arrived in Somerton with time to spare, and parked up on the playing field as instructed - fortuitously right next to the children's playground where our little group were due to meet at 7.30am.

Decisions, decisions 

Timing chip

Registration packs were sent the week before, thus avoiding the need for people to register on the day. Not that everyone had twigged this however, and there was a queue of people at the Pendragon tent being told they didn't need to be there! I have to say I found this year's handlebar mounted timing chip much better than last year's saddle mounted sticky flappy one, and it was the only thing to be attached to the bike, or me, which was nice. Decisions made and layers donned, we all headed over towards the start, with the inevitable queue for the far too few toilets taking up some of the time to be killed. 

No one else seemed to want to advance into the pen and the start line, so our little Axbridge Cycling Group posse decided we might as well. If you see any official photos of the start line - the front row of riders is us! This meant we got to spend lots of time watching the antics of photographers and journalists, all keen to get photos of Michael Eavis and the Aerial Atom that were to start off the event. By now of course it was already raining intermittently - a sign of things to come. Finally, after the usual rider briefing, the commentator counted us down from five and we were off, and following Mr Glastonbury Festival in the Aerial Atom out of the gate.  

Start pen 

ACG team

Celebrity send off

Today's route was never going to hold much by way of novelty for me - it's my patch, my turf, my backyard. Even so, and having done it before, we nearly missed the right turn near Butleigh where a sign seemed to have gone amiss. I'd like to have taken photos of Glastonbury Tor as we passed by, but it was in the clouds. Besides, every time the road went up, I got dropped, and dropping back to take photos would have made things even worse! This, by the way, was to be the trend for the entire three days: keep up on the flat, get dropped on the hills, fail to catch up, and then get dropped completely unless some poor soul took pity and waited for me. 

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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) 7 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 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?) 7 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 7 out of 10
Overall Rating 80.0%

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