Cyclosport.org REVIEW: Pearson 150 Sportive
by Adam Tranter
Words and photos:Â Howard Johnson
The average non-attendance for a sportive event is usually 10% of the riders registered, I doubt if any riders that pulled the curtains back on Sunday morning to a warm sunny day were going to stay in bed. 480 starters lined up for the Pearson 150 event, a ride from South London to Brighton and back, which also included a 75km option with less challenging climbs.
Registration was at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, with ample parking and quick and easy registration and collection to timing tags and route maps, it was time to unpack the bike and apply the sun cream. This was going to be a hot one.
The rider numbers were increased by cyclists who are riding the London to Paris event organised by HOTCHILLEE. Some 100 riders who will be riding the three-day event at the end of June signed up, using the long distance event as a good training run.
With my kidney stone grumbling I decided on the 75km sprint option, as I have previously completed the 150km route for the ride preview a few months earlier. There was supposed to be official start times, but as I rolled up to the start at 8am, I was waved through, swiped my chip and away. Luckily I had programmed in the route to my Garmin, because at the first two junctions no signs. Once again locals like to collect them as souvenirs.
Following my Garmin route and negotiating some decent sized pot holes around Woodmansterne into the leafy Surrey lanes it was clear this was going to be a quiet ride. Routing for the day was below par. The signs were on the small side and not in the riders' eye line, as well as not being particularly distinctive. Also, Evans had their sportive on the same day, sharing part of the route and crossing over each other. I know through talking to riders at the finish this also caused some confusion. Following the Garmin I missed the route split, and was soon at the perimeter roads to Gatwick airport and into the feed stop at Charlwood.
The feed stop was well stocked with bananas, energy drinks, cake and smoothies etc. It was also at a cross roads of Evan and Pearson's riders; there were cyclists in every direction! Suitably refreshed, it was on to the back lanes for the ride back towards Sutton. The lanes were quiet; well they were for me, as I was one of the first back. Anyway on towards Newdigate and Leigh, there was nothing too challenging on the legs. After a swift drop onto the A24 near Dorking and a marshal to route you down the cycle path, as the A2 was extremely busy.
Once off the busy road, the final challenge started with the long slow climb up Box Hill, getting steeper and steeper towards the end. Once at the top and a twisty descent it was the last little kick up to Tatennham Corner at Epsom. Past the golf course, there was a tiny bit of time to recover before the last little drag up to Banstead before the final mile or so all downhill back to the finish.
At the finish there was free smoothies, energy foods and cakes again, and a goody bag.Â If you have read my blogs or reviews in the past, I am an avid collector of goodies. I now have enough bottles to support a pro team. I will say that the goodie bag provided at the end was a welcome change containing some marketing brochures, which is fine, but also a smoothie drink, energy bar, nut bar and all contained in a grab sack, that will be useful in the future. And not a bottle in sight!
After speaking to riders at the finish the option of only one feed stop on the 150km route was a mistake, given the heat on the day. I suggest even a drinks stop with 30 miles left to ride would have been a good idea, so as to rehydrate riders. Most if not all sportives of 70 miles or more have at least two feed stops, and some of the longer ones have three, the third being more of a drinks than food.
Jane Howard (pictured, right)
Jane from Clapham rode the 75km route and completed the ride in 3:24:34, and it was her first sportive event. Jane found some of the hills quite tough as her daily commute to work is quite flat. Jane enjoyed the course and the scenery and also liked the fact the sportive was a lot smaller than the Evans event that was on the same day and sharing some of the roads.
In the winter Jane is a hockey player and in the summer a tri-athlete. She is currently training for the Blenheim Triathlon, and is also training to climb Kilimanjaro at the end of June with work colleagues. The downside to the day however was the lack of signage, and luckily for Jane she was riding with someone who knew the area and the course, otherwise she would have got lost!
Captain Steve Harrington and Staff Sergeant Dean FoleyÂ (pictured, left)
Enjoying a cup of tea or two at the finish were two Army Physical training Instructors with the 3 Mercian Regiment; they managed to fit in this sportive whilst on a PTI course. It is a well known fact that officers can't read maps, and Capt Harrington did manage to become geographically embarrassed by following the wrong route signs, adding quite a few kilometres onto their ride. Well done sir! The guys were very positive about the organisation and feed stops, but did comment on the route signs as being difficult to find. The guys are not new to sportive rides they have already ridden events in Germany and will be hoping to fit a few more events in before they return to operations in 4 to 6 weeks time.
Rhonwen Reed (pictured, right)
All the way from South Africa is Rhonwen Reed who finished the 75km event in 4:38:06, she enjoyed the weather and thought the event was well organised. She also enjoyed the distance and the mixture of hills and flat roads as she is quite new to cycling. Rhonnie enjoyed the feed stop which had a good choice of cakes etc and toilet facilities, which for ladies does make a huge difference. Rhonnie didn't enjoy some of the roads as she thought they were too busy with traffic, and the signage was too small or not in a distinct colour to be seen. After today's challenge Rhonnie is planning to ride the Dartmoor Classic and the Surrey Legs of Steel Challenge Ride in September with her husband.
Otto von Celsing (pictured, left)
Otto from London completed the 150km route in 5:18:04, and thought it was a great course with some beautiful leafy country lanes on the way back. The feed stop at Brighton was well organised and thought some of the signs were hard to find. Otto is not a seasoned sportive rider, classing himself as a social cyclist, and has previously only ridden the London to Canterbury stage of the 2007 Tour de France and is planning to ride a sportive in Morzine, France.
Richard Read (pictured, right)
Caught enjoying a recovery burger at the finish was Richard Read from Twickenham who finished the 150km route in 5:44:35. Richard thought the organisation and the route were very good; however the signing was difficult to see. He thought the feed stop in Brighton was good, but thought a second feed was required especially due to the heat encountered on the day. Richard is planning to ride the Magnificat, and the Southern Sportive later in the year.
Target Time 75km: Ruth Clifton - 2:27:20
Target Time 150km: Simon Howard - 4:45:39
We liked: Quick and easy registration, course, scenery
We didn't: Signage. Signs too small and not distinctive
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