Event Review

REVIEW: Pedal Norfolk 2015

by Sean Lacey

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The plan for day two was to take an enjoyable ride around the day's 20 mile family route, but I think we used up the good weather tokens yesterday, as it had rained all night and was showing no signs of letting up. We waited it out in the tent until mid-morning, long after the keen guys had left for their 100 or 50 mile rides (Chris and his local friend included), but decided we needed to get out so opted for a day sightseeing instead.

This being Norfolk, there was plenty to do so we headed out along the coast, stopping to watch seals play in the surf at Salthouse, and spending a couple of hours (the rain had gone by now) at Wells-by-the-Sea. Very pleasant indeed. The afternoon was rounded off by watching the Savage Skills stunt team, riding a variety of wacky bikes, and watching a round of the local Cyclocross league which was held in the grounds by the lake.

On to day three then, and the only option other than the family ride was a 50 mile route, to include some hills. Yes, Norfolk is billed as pan flat but apparently there were a few at least. Riding solo today, and with the task of re-packing the car for the drive home still to complete, a quicker ride was on the cards.

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Starting out on the same route as day one, we turned inland at Salthouse this time and into the first of the climbs. By Norfolk standard it was pretty big, but living in a hilly region of the country it was more than manageable. Very pretty though, climbing up through woodland before emerging onto the open fields. The route followed similar terrain, with a feed that serviced both the 50 and 20 mile routes, which meant a greater volume of riders at times.

The pace was pretty high for the most part too, and helpful as always I paced a couple of riders who had dropped off the back of their respective groups. Today saw the best of the weather, with blue skies and sunshine leaving me to lament my decision to only bring full length bib tights and long sleeve jerseys! With a quick for me average of 17.5mph it didn't take too long to cover the picturesque route back to Holkham - and no punctures this time too. Ahead of schedule I relaxed in the village and took in a ride around the estate with my daughter, before sadly having to break everything down and head home, we could have happily spent much more time here.

Overall, the three of us all had a great time. The location at Holkham is fabulous; the estate is huge with endless areas for kids to explore (along with a large play area) and deer roaming the park. The event village was top notch, with plenty going on and a good spread of catering options, however, simple sandwiches and pasta options would be welcome alongside the gourmet stuff.

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For those camping, the facilities were great, with the toilets and showers being housed in trailer units and what I guess you would consider the 'posh' option. Always clean and well stocked too, we had no issues at all over the weekend. The rides themselves were well organised with a real festival atmosphere at the start and finish, and cracking routes too. The roads aren't busy around here in general and the drivers far more courteous than in your more urban areas of the country.

There were a couple of issues though - the signage, although looking good with different coloured 'chainrings' to differentiate the routes, was both too small in size and lacking in number. It was easy to miss them, especially the long route red ones as they tended to blend in. As mentioned, the feeds were well stocked in general, but it seemed that the Torq energy products were an issue, with what I imagine was the quicker riders out front stockpiling, leaving nothing for the riders further back.

Other than these niggles though I have no complaints, and the family enjoyed it immensely. It introduced us to a lovely part of the UK and left us with a big desire to return, both to the area and this event.

Day One Route: https://app.strava.com/activities/298445069

Day Three Route: https://app.strava.com/activities/298445772

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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) 9 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 6 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 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?) 8 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 83.3%




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1 Comment

KevSp
4th June 2015 12:23pm Kev Sp wrote:

Always like reading your reviews Sean, especially when I've not had a chance to ride them or be there on photographer duties.

I'm regretting not writing up the 2014 review now as, apart from moving the site around a little to make it flow better, nothing much else changed.

I was over there on the Monday (and through the week) and it appears that they still can't clean up either. All of the branded 'Pedal Norfolk' signs were gone (those on wooden stakes) but the directional arrows were there on Friday afternoon and really should be cleared away (in 2014 there were also a lot of large cable-ties lying around on the verges between each day where routes where changed).

So it's getting better - still pricey if you're just riding the three days and not adding camping/social aspect of the location - but sure I'll still be planning a 2016 trip.