Event Review

Wiggle Motion In Mercia REVIEW

by Sean Lacey

Essentials:

Date: Sunday 7th April
Distances: 53 miles and 92 miles
Entry fee: £28.00, £32.00
Participants: 600+ entrants
Start: Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton. Parking readily available on site and the surrounding residential area. Event village with trade stands, food and drink and major facilities inside the centre
Feedstops: 1 on the short route, 2 on the 92 mile route
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride
Timed: Helmet timing chip - sent out in advance with rider number, map and ride manual  
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with highly visible signage (black arrows on flouro pink background)
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes for the most part, a few short sections on main roads with only 3 tougher climbs. NEG riders, medical and broom wagon on route to provide assistance if needed and professional photographers out around the route
Goody bag: High5 bidon filled with drink mix and gels, Kilo To Go buff, Wiggle phone pouch, can of WD40, Soreen bars
Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/47683826

The Ride:

Although nice to ride roads unfamiliar, it does sometimes make a change to ride a little more locally, a bonus that the usual pre-ride panic over having everything you need and the ridiculously early alarm call can take the weekend off. Based at Alderlsey stadium in Wolverhampton meant the 30 minute drive made for a relaxing start to the day. I suspect the folk at Kilo To Go were equally pleased (although up early regardless) that the weather was finally playing ball after the unseasonal snow of two weeks ago cancelled their season opener, the Cheshire Cat. I arrived 45 minutes before the start line opened and it was already packed out with keen looking riders.

full car park
A Full Car Park

pre ride food
Pre-Ride Food and Drink

After getting set and waiting at the stadium entrance to see if I could spot a fried (we just missed each other I reckon) the start line started to fill up so I joined the queue for the off. Less than ten minutes later and I was on the road in the 3rd group out. With mixed abilities and not knowing each other the group fragmented within the first few miles, but being early in the season and my biggest ride so far this year I didn't want to go off too quickly so it wasn't an issue. Quickly out of the urban area we made our way through Staffordshire heading out through Brewood and onto Cannock. Although not difficult, the long, long drag up to the top of the Chase was a good warm up in the cool morning air.

By now riders were getting a little confidence in each other and a small group formed which kicked up the pace a little, and after a number of miles sharing the pulling another guy and myself lost the others on a climb and worked well to the first feed station at Church Eaton.

Plenty of goodies were on offer, with sponsors High5 providing energy drink, gels and bars and Soreen providing mini malt loaves along with the sportive favourite, bananas.

kilo to go
Church Eaton Feed Station

Not stopping long, it was back on route and some somewhat rougher back roads that Kilo had helpfully signed where the bigger hazards were, as mentioned in the start line briefing. There was a moment of wonder when I reached the route split, as there were riders in front and behind, all of whom took the left turn for the short route leaving me completely on my own, wondering if I was the only one! From here all the way through my cycling club town of Newport and on past Edgmond I didn't see another rider. However, on familiar roads I wasn't too concerned and eventually I was caught and passed by a couple of faster guys.

kilo to go
Newport, Not The Only Place With Cobbles On The Day of Paris-Roubaix

Heading out now towards Shrewsbury the route crossed a section of a local sporting TT course at Crudgington; riding it now at a slightly more sedate pace the mild rises certainly seemed a lot easier than when going full gas on a Wednesday evening! Passing the grand National Trust property of Attingham Park, a turn off the main road led me out towards the Roman town of Wroxeter, then down to the second feed at Cressage, which had a slightly smaller selection of foods than the first.

roman ruins
Roman Ruins And The Wrekin

cressage
Cressage Feed Stop

I had a few minutes rest here and ate my fill for the last leg. Leaving the feed I was onto a regular training route and knew exactly what was coming, a leg warmer climbing up through Sheinton before the tester, a tough little 15% climb up to the top of the bank, before an exhilarating 2 mile descent back down to the river. At the top of the bank a sign had gone wayward (more on that later) and another rider just behind nearly went off the wrong way before I called him back. A combination of knowing this section and my trusty Garmin Forerunner saw us on the right path. From the bottom we followed the river into Ironbridge itself and along the picturesque High Street. The temptation to stop here was strong - my fellow club mates and friends had taken part in a Paris-Roubaix tribute ride  organised by the aptly named Teddy Smerckx and were encamped at the Malthouse pub, post ride to watch the race. My current riding partner however managed to convince me to carry on, as I wistfully waved as we passed. By now it had warmed up some (a whole 8 degrees I reckon) and with a hint of sunshine too Ironbridge was packed out with tourists as usual.

riders
Riders Power Up The Rise And To The Bridge

The Bridge
The Bridge

As I had stopped to take the pictures I had lost my company, and set off along the river again. I did however catch up with a few riders and my earlier company further on who were unsure as to whether they were going the right way. Assuring them we were, I also warned them of the climb out of the gorge. It's one of those that sneaks up on you, nice level road, left turn obscured by a house and bang! If you aren't in the right gear prepare for much crashing of gears and bad language. I think they all got up OK, but again local knowledge helped as I know the climb well and come the descent was on my own for a time again. A stint along the busy B4176 was mercifully not too long before heading back onto the lanes towards the base at Wolverhampton, and less than 10 miles to ride. Taking in one last treat, a Jaffa Cake bar, most of which I dribbled down my top it seemed I was caught up again by the group behind. From here we rode in small groups back through the outlying villages before the urban sprawl of Wolverhampton loomed and the short run to the stadium, welcomed in by the Kilo staff.

wiggle
The Finish, Child Avoidance Recommended

A different route to last year made a nice change, taking in parts of Cannock and Shropshire not used before and as I remarked last time it's nice to see other people enjoying the roads I ride regularly. Organisation was slick as always, with plenty of pre-event communication and the timing sticker and rider number being mailed out in advance.

Today also trialled for the first time on a Kilo event a virtual control centre - based in Wales - that made incident control far more efficient. The control centre had transponders on all of the NEG riders, medical, mechanical and broom wagon vehicles which they tracked real time, meaning that when someone called in with a problem the nearest unit could be raised and dispatched with the minimum time delay, very similar to how the police work. This meant that the missing signage was replaced quickly and efficiently. Speaking to Geoff from Kilo when I finished, there hadn't been any other incidents, medical or mechanical to prove the system further but it sounds like a great addition to me.

The not too tough route was well suited to an early season ride and although biased, Shropshire and Staffordshire offers some of the best scenery and riding around. Give this one a go next year, or the tougher Shropshire Mynd event later this year.


Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 6 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 8 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 10 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?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 87.8%