Event Review

REVIEW: Mad March Hare Sportive 2015

by Sean Lacey

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REVIEW: Mad March Hare Sportive 2015

Date: Sunday 1st March 
Distance: 72 miles 
Entry fee: £18 
Participants: 770 
Start: Coppice Primary School, Wythall, facilities available on site and a huge amount of parking at the Phoenix Group headquarters a short ride away 
Feedstops: 1 
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride (free) 
Timed: Yes (electronic chip on bike number)  
Signs: Yes, yellow with black arrows 
Photography: www.georgeburgessphotography.com 
Roads: Great rural route, mostly on back lanes and B roads, one large climb 

I was looking forward to this. Despite my complete lack of worthwhile training over the last couple of months and therefore terrible form, I couldn't help but be a bit excited about my first sportive and review of 2015.

Having become something of a tradition, thanks to fellow writer Jennifer Trotman, the Mad March Hare is now a permanent fixture on my calendar. It was all change this year though, with a new HQ and a totally different route. 

Based from Wythall, south of Birmingham, the event is easily accessible and this is reflected in the 770 strong start sheet and the variety of clubs represented from all over the country. Parking once again was at the Phoenix Group's large office complex; 0free, with a voluntary donation to the Air Ambulance. Once kitted up and ready, the ride HQ at the Coppice Primary School was a 1.5 mile ride away, which was well signposted, something rectified from last year. 



Riders were already underway by the time I had arrived. Signing on was a case of find your name on the sheet, sign on and collect your number; you are then free to go as you please. Tea and coffee were on offer, and plenty of toilets with minimal queues. I hit the road on my own (no wingmen today) into the blustery wind, which would be a feature all day. 

The route this year dropped due south, through pretty villages aplenty - roof thatchers won't go out of business around here anytime soon - on a mix of back roads and quiet B roads. It was a bit of a slog for the first half and you were generally into the wind the whole time. Any form of shelter, be it hedgerow or buildings, was most welcome for the short relief they would bring. 

Mostly rolling, the one feature climb popped up at almost exactly the halfway point in Saintbury. Long at a mile and a half, and pretty steep on and off, it was a real test after the battering the legs had taken against the wind. Fortunately, as you climbed the wind was behind you for the most part, alleviating the effort a little before a fast, open descent. 


Photo courtesy of George Burgess

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 5 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 7 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 5 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) 8 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 76.7%