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Let Them Eat Cake! REVIEW

by Sean Lacey

Essentials:
Date: Tuesday 5th June
Distances: 65 miles
Entry fee: £20.00, no entries on the day
Participants: 200 entrants
Start: Nantwich Town FC, plenty of parking and major facilities inside the club building
Feedstops: 1 (at the Eureka Café)
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride, all included in the event fee
Timed: No
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with highly visible signage (black arrows on yellow background)
Roads: Good flat route on quiet lanes for the most part, a few sections on main roads 

The Ride:
Tuesday is an unusual day for a sportive, pardon, cakelosportive as it has become known, but as this was a rare public holiday as part of the Jubilee celebrations why not? It certainly appealed to me and the many others who rode the event, the brainchild of Lou Mullagh, who started Pattiserie Cyclisme - a website to collate and review cycling cafés last year. Put on in conjunction with Polocini, an organiser synonymous with well-run events with great food, and traditionally, rain, Polocini would provide the logistics while Lou and her team would look after the folk on the day and of course provide the cake!

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The HQ Fills up

Signing on in the club suite was painless, being issued with a customised number board which was a nice touch, a ticket for coffee and cake provisions at the Eureka café and then directed to free tea, coffee, bananas and even hot porridge to get you on your way.

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Customised Number Board

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Porridge is Served

As we hit 9am it was time to head out. The ride was billed as more of a social mass club run rather than an all-out speed fest, and it was a nice change to roll out as one big group with the pace held by everyone at a steady rate, which helped to get the rapport going between riders. Quickly out of the urban area of Nantwich we were on to the lanes of the Cheshire countryside. Somewhat unexpectedly for an event Polocini were involved with it was dry, if a little chilly for the time of year, not that I'm complaining.

The route took us near to Oulton Park race circuit, which by the sound of it had a motorcycle event on, through the picturesque Delamere forest and round the back of Chester Zoo. As the miles passed, the pace started to pick up at the front so I jumped a good portion of the group to get into one of the lead bunches. A group of around eight of us formed up and worked pretty well to keep a decent pace going. Unfortunately for the picture lovers this did mean I didn't get round to actually taking many pictures as I wasn't too keen to lose my phone at that speed! This was a shame, as not too far from the half-way point we went down a single track road which had recently been resurfaced with the smoothest, fast rolling tarmac you could wish for. Not the usual tar and grit rubbish councils seem so keen on, but black, sticky proper tarmac. I'm still kicking myself for not snapping a shot of that! A few more miles in and we hit the busy A540, the only dodgy bit of the route. This was necessary as it is where the Eureka café is located - I guess 83 years ago it wasn't as busy.

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The Famous Eureka Cafe

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Plenty of Riders Enjoying the Rest

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This is what the Ride was about. Cake!

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No Escaping the Jubilee

As I sat outside to eat my really rather lovely cake and drink my Americano, which my ticket issued at the start got me, it was evident that getting in one of the faster groups up front had paid off, as the queue was getting longer by the minute. It was a great place for the stop, I was certainly pleased to say I have now visited, but it's pretty small and was full of regulars as well as us lot, so a few folk had a bit of a wait. This did also fragment the ride, so when I left I was on my own. This meant I had more time to take in the surroundings however and risk getting the camera out now and then. Out from the café we had to ride a section of the A540 again before dropping back onto the lanes to retrace a section of the outward route past the back of the zoo again. You could just see one of the primate enclosures but they weren't out to play in the treetops today. I did see animals a little further down the road though, not quite as exotic and certainly not bothered by my presence.

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Chester Zoo from the Rear

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Indifferent Horse

Pushing on I caught the odd rider, but a quick hello and I carried on. The wind had picked up and as you might expect, it was head on all the way back. The route split from the road out and took us out towards Beeston, some of these roads were familiar from the Cheshire Cat earlier in the year. This was also the only lumpy section of the otherwise pan flat route, which if I'm honest made a nice change. The route flattened out again after this, and being more exposed just made the wind harder work.

With about 10 miles to go I caught up with one of my initial group riders, Denis Cadman. By this point I think we had both had enough of fighting the wind alone so paired up to work our way back through the lanes and into urban Nantwich, with a good natter along the way.The football ground soon honed into view and it was a welcome sight, with hot food and drinks waiting.

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My Ride Partner Denis

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Hot Food was Welcome, and included

Food collected from the outside catering unit I headed back inside for a cup of tea and, yes, more cake. I had a club 10 TT later in the day, so I could justify it, right?Suitably refuelled and rested I had a quick chat with Lou and Al (Mr Polocini) about the day. Both were pleased with how it went. Lou, although having a manic day ensuring everything went to plan was especially pleased with the numbers that had plumped for a first time event and how it had gone in general.

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Mrs Cake, Lou Mullagh

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Mr Polocini, Al Bridge

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The Most Important Bit-The Cake!

Hats off to all who helped run the event; it was a nice twist to the usual sportive and made for a fun day out. I'll certainly be back next year if it goes ahead. 

Strava ride info: http://app.strava.com/rides/10148028