Event Review

REVIEW: The Sharpener 2014

by Andy Dawson

GB Flag

The Sharpener 2014

Essentials:
Date: 4th May 2014
Distances: 100km
Entry: £20
Start: Haddenham
Feedstops: 1
Catering: Free Tea/coffee at start/finish
Timed: Yes, disposable strip on helmet
Signs: Yes
Roads:  Good quality
Goody Bag: No  

Allez Sportives are running a series of events throughout 2014 as well as being involved in the Chiltern Cycle Festival. Their first event of the year was the "Sharpener" on Sunday 4 May starting in Haddenham near Aylesbury. The sportive offered a single distance of 100km that took a short detour south to briefly climb the Chilterns before turning north to head out over the Oxfordshire plain all the way to Brill Hill. Further lumps and bumps would then follow in the final run back to the start/finish. 

The event HQ was in a local school so there were plenty of facilities and parking was easy. There was even free tea and coffee plus a cycle stall and mechanical assistance on offer. Timing was provided by the Results Base company and featured disposable stickers for the helmet - very convenient. The relatively small field (just over 100) were set off in groups after the usual safety and course briefings. 

THS1
The start

THS2
Kingstone Hill

I was feeling strong (in contrast to the previous Sunday where I'd suffered on the St George's sportive) and the weather was great so I immediately identified three other quick riders and set off with them, taking turns on the front, for the flat ride towards the Chilterns. The first climb up was Kingstone Hill, which is long and gradually steepens as you toil up it. By the time we got to the top a "selection" had occurred with the field split up into various different speed groups. 

Quite a large paceline dropped off the ridge via the descent of Britwell Hill (arrow straight and 70kph) and then reformed for what was going to be a 40km trek across Oxfordshire. By now I was appreciating how clever this route was: the early climb had grouped riders according to strength and now we could ride together on the flat, quiet roads. 

THS3
Pacelines formed on the flat roads

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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) 9 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) 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) 8 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 10 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 86.7%