Event Review

REVIEW: The Impsport Championship Sportive 2015

by Sean Lacey

GB Flag

REVIEW: The Impsport Championship Sportive 2015

Date: Saturday 27th June
Distances: 32 miles, 58 miles, 76 miles and 97 miles
Entry fee: £20.00 (33 miles), £35.00 all other routes
Participants: 1,600
Start: Yarborough Leisure Centre - plenty of free parking, HQ indoors with a small event village, facilities and food / drink available
Feedstops: 1 on the short route, 2 on the medium routes, 3 on the long route
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride
Timed: Timing chip on lanyard, manually checked at the start, finish and feed stops  
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with signage (red arrows on white background)
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes and minor B roads with rolling terrain and few bigger climbs. On-route support and professional photographers (SportivePhoto) out around the route
Goody bag: Product samples, stickers, free filled baps and drinks at the finish
Photos: http://www.sportivephoto.com/ 

I last rode this event in 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was keen to have another crack and see what changes had been made - not that many were needed. As the usual Lincoln GP pro race would this year double as the British National Championship, I prudently booked a hotel early, knowing that the city would be packed out for the weekend. 

A short drive in the morning was another benefit to booking the hotel early, getting parked up on the large field to the side of the leisure centre HQ with no hassle at all. Registration was a pleasure as despite the early hour, the sun was out in force - a nice change from the changeable weather last time I rode. The process was simple and efficient: one table for the event numbers and gels, another to collect the timing card. 




The start was very laid back and I rolled straight out with a couple of others in tow onto the still-quiet urban roads leading out of Lincoln. Once into the rolling countryside, with the breeze behind me, the miles seemed to fly by on the fairly flat opening. Before long the hills started to appear though, and wouldn't abate for another 50 miles or so as we worked our way around the pretty Lincolnshire Wolds. 

The roads were a little busier with cyclists now too, as I caught the earlier starters and the quicker guys and girls moved up from behind. The first feed at Tetford was pretty busy, so I didn't hang around too long, just enough to fill my bottle (getting through the liquids pretty quickly in the heat) and grab some food, of which there was a pretty good selection of sweet and savoury on offer.   

As mentioned, the Wolds are pretty lumpy; there aren't any long climbs on offer, but plenty of short, steep leg burners. I did have a slight incident in this portion of the ride, as not wanting to let go of a half-eaten banana on a descent - bad planning on my part - I couldn't avoid a piece of eroded tarmac and the rear tyre went bang. I managed to come to a controlled stop, banana still in hand, and attend to the job of fixing the puncture. Oh, and I finished the precious banana too. 




Two more feeds featured on the route, one at a village hall and another at a rather beautiful country home, with tea and cake on the lawn. Very civilized. Leaving the Wolds, we skirted Market Rasen which signalled the homeward stretch, and the end of most of the climbing too. Passing by the airbase at RAF Scampton, I reminisced of the last time I rode here - back where it was blowing a gale and raining too, making progress hard work in contrast to today's brilliant sunshine and mild breeze. What a difference two years makes! 

The final miles back into Lincoln were also part of the route the professionals would be taking tomorrow, and the setup compared to the smaller road race events was evident as we followed the road in, with numerous sky-scraping cherry-pickers for the TV cameras. 

Nearly there now, but one more challenge still loomed ahead: the tough, cobbled climb of Michaelgate up to the cathedral. I wasn't having the best of performances last time around but made it up OK, despite the rain soaked cobbles, so dry and feeling good meant no excuses whatsoever to stop this time. 




Climbing the narrow bumpy lane, between a throng of passers-by and spectators cheering and ringing cow bells is an experience for sure, and motivates the legs that bit more. A surprise lay in store too; whereas the finish is usually in the town centre itself, due to the extra exposure the Champs would bring the organisers had moved it slightly further away (and further uphill) to the grounds of Lincoln Castle. But what a finish - the whole of the castle courtyard had been turned into a huge event village which made for a seriously impressive sight and a great way to end the ride. 

A rider area and marquee was set aside amongst the retail and advertiser's stalls to serve up free rolls and drinks - much needed and what a pleasure it was to sit in the sun and relax. I also met up with friends who rode the medium route which topped off the day nicely as I hadn't caught them at the start. A short ride back to the HQ meant I was able to collect a goody bag to boot. 

As with 2013, the event was well run and supported, with great signage, good food stops and a challenging yet manageable and scenic route. My friends on the medium route were just as enthusiastic and pleased with the ride, so overall another recommendation for your 2016 lists. 

Route: www.strava.com/activities/334454439

Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 8 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 9 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 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?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 90.0%

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