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Cycletta Brighton REVIEW

by Lois May-Miller

Essentials:
Date: Sunday 30th September 2012
Distances:  Classic: 40k & Challenge: 80k
Entry fee:  £42, £46
Start:  Plumpton Racecourse
Catering:  Catering vans selling food and drink at start and finish. Free cold drinks at finish.
Rest Stops: Two stops (4 for 80k) with toilets and refreshments
Timing:  Electronic chip attached to bike number
Signs:  Well signposted. (Black arrows on yellow at junctions, red hazard signs, blue signs with information/encouragement!)
Roads:  Scenic, quiet country lanes and roads, some short stretches of bumpier road but these were signposted
Goody bag:  Water bottle, Cycling Active magazine, various snacks & gels, Chain Reaction Cycles phone case, Purple Harry's helmet, shoe & glove sanitizer, Cycletta medal.
Photos:  www.sportcam.net
Web:  www.cycletta.co.uk

The Ride:
Cycletta, a women only sportive series, was launched last year. After it's success the event ran again this year at seven different venues, so I decided to see what the fuss was about, and signed up for the Brighton ride.
Although this event is publicised as Cycletta Brighton, the ride actually begins and ends at Plumpton Racecourse: a 13 mile journey from Brighton itself. The Cycletta handbook and website give directions for getting to the Racecourse by car, but the directions for public transport only get you as far as Brighton. I live in Brighton, and I don't own a car. Under my own initiative I found that I could get a train to Cooksbridge and then ride for about 15minutes to the racecourse for the ride. Perfect.

cycletta
Nice Scenery On Offer

I had eagerly set my alarm for an early start, in order to have a carb-filled breakfast and catch the train in plenty of time. Needless to say I didn't feel quite so eager upon waking up at 5.30am to see a cold, dark morning out of my bedroom window. Somehow I managed to get myself together, get my kit on, not forget my bicycle and catch the train. I changed trains as planned and checked the screen for the time of my connection, only to see those dreaded words: "BUS REPLACEMENT SERVICE". I don't know if you have ever tried to convince a bus driver to let you on board with a bike, but trust me: don't bother. At this point I weighed up the options: a) go home and climb back into my warm bed, b) buy a latte and cry into it , or c) cycle to Plumpton for the ride. After about half an hour of wondering what to do (I think the cold was stopping my brain from working) I realised that I'd just have to harden up and ride there. Google Maps told me it would take 40 minutes, but luckily it only took 25.

cycletta

Things starting looking up once I arrived at Plumpton for Cycletta. Amusingly I got a round of applause from a couple of stewards who were impressed that I had ridden there. I then got myself a hot chocolate from one of the catering vans and chatted to some of the other ladies who were there for the ride. There were mechanics on hand if anyone needed any last minute maintenance, and an information point with everything you could possibly need. Hands defrosted from holding my hot chocolate, I was all warmed up and ready to go!

They set us off in groups of 10 or so, and I wasn't going to do any more hanging around, so I got myself near the front and was in the third group of women to set off. There was a great mixture of women at the event. At the start line I was directly behind someone who was a world champion triathlete, and directly in front of two older ladies who had never done an event like this before. I also saw a mum and her daughter riding together, and chatted to some ladies who didn't own bikes but had hired them for the day.

cycletta
A big Turnout

The ride itself was beautiful. The organisers had clearly taken some time in planning a route that avoided main roads and provided some stunning scenery. There were stewards at every junction, and the Red Cross were stationed at a couple of points. 
The route took us through Barcombe, past the picturesque Newick Park and across to Wivelsfield Green. The roads were wonderfully quiet: I barely saw any cars. We did encounter a couple of horses but had been warned about that possibility, and passed them slowly as instructed! For the last part of the loop we headed south through Streat back towards the racecourse. 

Although close to the South Downs and some infamous hills, the route didn't include any really serious climbs. It was encouraging to manage all of the hills without stopping or pushing, although my legs certainly felt a few of the steeper climbs! By the half-way point I was beginning to feel quite tired, but my energy levels soon picked up after some jelly babies and a pep-talk from a particularly enthusiastic volunteer.

cycletta
A Nice Touch

I had entered the 80k route, which rather disappointingly was just the 40k route, but twice. There is something a little disheartening about getting back to where you started and then doing the whole lot again. On the plus side I knew the route after the first half of the ride, and so could measure how far I was from the finish on my second time around.

As I crossed the finish line I received a medal and a drink from a friendly volunteer. Some local businesses were offering free manicures, massages and helmet-hair remedies in a nicely kitted out 'pamper zone' but I opted just to pick up my goody bag and have a cup of coffee.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day: transport fiasco aside. Cycletta Brighton is running again in 2013, and although I would recommend it to anyone considering it, I think next year I will go on a ride with a bunch of friends and save the £46 for a rainy day.

That said, any event that gets women on their bikes is good with me.

The route on Trailzilla: http://www.trailzilla.com/index.php?aid=1059&tid=+12233&view=compact





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