RideIt! Woking REVIEW
One of Evan's Ride It most popular events, selling out in advance, this Sportive has a selection of routes on offer for every rider and was complimented by a glorious day on undulating quiet lanes in brilliant sunshine.
A nice day in prospect on a deserted M3
Entry fee: £12.50 (£15 entry on the day but sold out in advance)
Distances: 15 / 30 / 60 / 90 miles
Start/Finish: Parish Pavillion, Station Road, Chobham
Timed: Yes (timing chips attached to helmet)
Feedstops: 2 Catering: Tea and coffee at the start and finish, BBQ and salad at the end
Signs: Black arrows on pink background
Road: Predominantly quiet lanes with a few main roads at the start and finish.
This was the second Sportive I’ve ridden this year but as Sportive fever appears to grip the nation this was already the 5th weekend of events Evan’s had organised and promoted this year dating back to mid January. Whatever happened to a Winter Break?
With the promise of longer evenings the clocks were set to go forward one hour, which unfortunately meant one hour less in bed. Departing at 7am I made the short journey along the M3 to Cobham in Surrey and found the event HQ well signposted with ease. I was one of the first to arrive and found plenty of parking available on the grass fields at the Parish Pavillion Recreation Ground.
With a sunny day in prospect and a clear chilly morning I had chosen the 90 mile route, registered and debated if this could be the first day of the year to wear shorts and unleash my white legs which had been concealed beneath tights for the last six months. It was difficult to decide how many layers to adopt as the car park began to fill with riders making their way to the registration desk wearing a mixture of shorts and tights, which certainly didn’t help my decision-making.
Riders register with ease
Registration was simply a matter of confirming my details in exchange for a timing chip that attached to ones helmet, a route map and a selection of High5 Energy gels that were on offer to riders. Despite a high turnout in a short space of time the organizers dealt with the forming queue efficiently. There was also the option of hiring a navigation unit for the day.
Refreshments were on offer in the form of Tea and Coffee (70p) from the Pavillion with toilet facilities inside and outside, the recreation ground made for a good hub.
Riders congregate before the start
With a limited entry of 570 riders expected to be out on the road. Departing between 8:30 and 10:30am or the slightly earlier cut-off time of 9:45am for those covering the long route, riders made their way to the start line where instructions were repeated to each group of departing cyclists. After a short delay due to a technical hitch with the new timing system on trial I was in the second wave to depart as we headed off through undulating minor roads to the West of Guildford.
Forming an orderly queue as instructions are issued
Myself and two other riders seemed to have one objective in mind which was to warm up as quickly as possible as we headed up the very gradual drag along Stonehill Road before turning back towards the M3. It took a little while to get used to the pink road markings particularly when they were wrapped around posts resulting in cries of left and right as one of us spotted them.
It was refreshing to share the load with the other two riders as my hands began to thaw and eventually I shed my arm warmers as we sped our way across Surrey Heath, skirting around the outskirts of Aldershot passing Mytchett Lake and traversing alongside the Basingstoke Canal on mostly uninterrupted tree lined lanes. I was really surprised by the number of lakes and waterways that adorn this area and promised myself to venture back and explore.
Despite the Constant ups and downs we managed to maintain a fairly high pace as every leg stretcher was broken fairly easily and sharing the load really does make a huge difference. Disaster struck at around 50km when I hit a rather large pothole, shortly afterwards the inevitable hissing of my front tire brought me to an abrupt halt. To my surprise the two riders who I had been riding with stopped, waited and even helped me repair the flat, for which I was extremely grateful.
The first feed station came as the medium and long routes split at around 35 miles shortly after Frensham ponds, these are part of Frensham Common which is owned by the National Trust and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and comprises a large area of heathland, together with some coniferous and mixed woodland, which explains why the area was so nice.
The feed station was stocked with a healthy supply of High5 Energy drink, water bananas and flapjacks as the longer route headed out into Hampshire for an additional 30 mile loop taking in some of the picturesque villages of Churt, Lindford, Selbourne and East Worldham before passing back through Alice Holt Forest and climbing back up towards the route junction.
I’d lost touch with my two compatriots by now who even waited for me as I had a ‘mechanical’ at the bottom of one of the mini ramps so I eased off a bit and took the opportunity to really take in the sunshine and Spring time bloom.
Quiet Country Lanes all to myself
The route then headed back through Elstead, across Puttenham Common and I had to look twice as one of the villages I passed through was called Normandy, surely I hadn’t made it into France. There was another drink station here similar to the other one but I didn’t stop as I sensed the end in sight.
I knew the ride was coming to a conclusion as I crossed through Pirbright, which I recognized from one of my longer training routes and there was still time to be dragged to the finish line by two riders on Time Trial Bikes.
Back at base the barbeque was fired up and the wide array of participants from families of fun riders to fully clad lycra roadies were relaxing on the grass enjoying the sunshine and watching a local football match or recovering in the massage tent.
A well earnt post ride burger was on offer
I had endured a really pleasant day on lanes I didn’t know existed and what I really liked about the event was the inclusivity it promoted and the array of different abilities the different routes attracted.
After the event I caught up with fellow cyclo-sportiver James Berresford who also rode the event and here is what he made of it.
“I did the 90 miles and had a good day apart from my bottom bracket bearings wearing out, driving myself and everyone in earshot crazy for the last 40 of those miles! (Sorry!) It’s an event I did last year and really enjoyed. I think Evans do a really good job for the price they charge and perhaps partly because of the cost they have a very inclusive atmosphere with a huge mix of people taking part.
"Woking is one of my favourites as the course tends to be nicely rolling, not filled with short steep climbs so you can maintain a steady pace over the distance rather than being start/stop which fits really nicely with my riding at this time of year. It’s also really easily accessible by bike which is surprisingly not always the case for a sportive. Though the sign coverage is good they were a little small particularly when they were wrapped around posts for example. The weather really couldn’t have been better which made the day all the more special.”
I also caught up with Event Organiser Dean Stacey, “Yeah, was a great day, beats the minus 16 we had in Watlington last month!!! We had about 570 riders out there. This is our limit and has sold out 3 years in a row!”
Rate the event here.http://www.cyclosport.org/login.html?3875/rate-event.html
Evans Cycles Ride It! Woking
- 25/03/2012 - Woking, Surrey
Rating: 88.3% based on 2 reviews - See Previous Ratings
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