Event Review

REVIEW: CFC Sportive Stratford on Avon

by Sean Lacey

GB Flag

REVIEW: CFC Sportive Stratford on Avon

Date: Sunday 29th May
Distances: 30, 62, 100, 150 miles
Participants: max 1000
Cost: £15 (30 mile), £27 (62, 100, 150 mile)
Start: Stratford-upon-Avon racecourse
Feedstops: 1-5 dependant on distance
Timing: seat-pin chip
Signs: colours varied on distance
Roads: Small amount of A  but mostly B roads
Goodies: Medal, hot food voucher
Website: http://www.cyclistsfc.org.uk/events/cfcsportive
Picture credits: Tim Hughes, Sean lacey

This turned up on my calendar as a bit of a bonus ride - my friend Kev was unable to ride so offered his place, which worked well with a free weekend so I gladly took up the offer. As luck would have it, two other friends, Kacey and Tim would be riding so company too.

Run by the ever-growing charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer, their work over the last 10 years has been bringing joy to hundreds of children and young people affected by cancer, by gifting them specially adapted bicycles has helped to bring them a better quality of life. As you would imagine, they are well supported by the cycling community and there were a lot of CFC jerseys on display today. 

Once again the weather was on top form and the journey pleasant down to the racecourse. I like racecourse venues and they seem to be getting more popular with organisers, providing excellent facilities, lots of parking and plenty of space to operate from. Signing on was slickly organised, with it taking more time to put the numbers on me & the bike than it did for the cheery staff to find your pack. Although Kev had signed up for the 100 mile route originally, I wasn't feeling confident due to me early year lack of miles, so opted to take the 62 mile route which Kacey and Tim were doing anyway. Let out in batches of 20 or so after a quick briefing, the pace was high once again, driven somewhat by Tim and his enviable fitness and form, with Kacey and I hanging on as best we could as the pace lifted even higher in the flat opening miles. It wasn't going to last though, and Tim did eventually look back to find we weren't there anymore and drifted back to regroup. With an easier pace it made checking out the scenery that bit easier, and I'm glad it did. I don't get to ride this area often, but boy it looks good. Passing by the early stop we forged on to the edge of the Cotswolds where the real challenges began. 

First up was Saintbury Hill - familiar to me as I rode it last year on the Tour of England series so despite the lack of good legs I at least knew what to expect. It's a nice climb to be fair, up through the woods with a change in elevation as you go. It even has a convenient car park at the top to get yourself and others together again. The descent led in to the half way feed, where we sat for a while in the sun with great views to tempt you to stay longer. The usual fare was on offer, High5 gels, bars and drink, with bananas, cakes, savoury biscuits and sweets. Suitably full and refreshed we carried on through the northern Cotswolds and 15 miles of lumpy, spectacular and frankly breath-taking views. I really was blown away with it, the picture postcard villages sitting beautifully in the pastel shaded countryside.

By now Kacey and I were flagging, Tim ably shepherding us on as we hoped to soon return to those flat roads that brought us out, but the alternate way back wasn't quite as kind as it hugged the outskirts of the Cotswolds, but it was too nice a day and place to get down about it. There was a final stop with only 10 or so miles to go, which normally I wouldn't have stopped at, but the chance for a couple of minutes off the bike and further refreshments were welcome, with a slightly cut down selection as before. The last miles in went by easily enough and the run in to the racecourse bittersweet - glad to have finished, but wishing I had the legs to get out there some more. This was compensated somewhat by turning in your number for a hot food voucher, a burger and coffee sat in the hot sunshine a treat to finish off the day.

Overall then, a cracking event. The racecourse is a fine venue, and provided a lot for you and the family - overnight camping, a play area with bouncy castle and slides, food vans, merchandise and of course proper hard standing toilets and showers, not forgetting the bar.

The route was fantastic, and looking at the GPS for the longer routes, you wouldn't have been disappointed. I can't speak for the other stops, but the one we had was well stocked with a good variety, however the provision of only two portaloo's meant big queues and wasn't ideal. My only other gripe was signage - although large and visible, there were numerous occasions where the sign was literally around the corner of a turn or right at the last second - not a fault of the sign as such, but bad placement which is easily rectified.

Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 7 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 6 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 9 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 8 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 84.4%