Event Review

REVIEW: White Horse Challenge 2015

by Jennifer Trotman

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White Horse Challenge 2015

Date: Sunday 26th April 
Distances: 89 miles 
Entry fee: £30 
Participants: c.550 
Start: Shrivenham Memorial Hall, Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, SN6 8BL 
Feedstops: two 
Catering: free coffee/tea at start/finish, cafe on site. 
Timing: electronic tag on helmet, print out on arrival. 
Signs: black arrows on yellow background 
Roads: very scenic on quiet country roads. 
Photos: sportivephoto.com 
Goody bag: finishers' medal 

Right then, White Horse Challenge, here I come. Another 5:15am alarm call.  Still, at least the overnight rain had stopped!  I arrived at Shrivenham early enough to get a parking space on the field behind HQ. I have gotten my kit wrong far too many times lately, so had been obsessively checking the weather forecast for days, and had brought a whole variety of options with me. 

First off though, registration, which was easy. I signed alongside my name, my timing sticker was stuck on my helmet, and I was left with just my bike number to sort. I passed on the free coffee, grabbed a map and two cable ties, and headed back to the car. Being outside had demonstrated that it was indeed cold and breezy, and deciding what to wear took just as long as expected, but I was really hoping I had got it right this time... 




Time to get going then. I headed back across the field, where I joined a much longer queue for the toilets again. When I emerged and headed for the start I found my mate Gary waiting for me without even having to look for him. Just for once I was actually doing a sportive in company! We'd had a chat beforehand and agreed that if either of us was as crap as we thought we were, and we ended up not being able to ride together, that neither of us would get grumpy about it, which sounded like a plan. 

Time to go and put that plan into action then. Riders were leaving one by one as they wished, no bunched starts here. So we duly rolled over the timing mats together and headed out into the chilly countryside. 

The sportive is a ride of three thirds. The first 25 odd miles are fairly flat, on scenic back country lanes, which is good because it means you get plenty of time to warm up. There is the odd up, but nothing drastic, so we got off to a fairly fast start. I sat on Gary's wheel as necessary, and we made our way around to the first climb of the day.   




I've done the White Horse Challenge several times before, and today familiarity was a good thing. For some reason it made the whole thing feel like a shorter event because I could break it down into chunks, and I knew all the challenges ahead.  And the first climb of the day - past the White Horse at Broadtown - I have done many times before. That doesn't mean I wasn't dreading it thought! Still, I was very pleased when unlike some other times, it went really well.   

We'd agreed to meet at the top, and yes, initially Gary drew away from me. But as we got going and my crawler gear engaged I got it together, overtook some other riders, and by the time we reached the top I was on it and actually overtook Gary as the road flattened out. It was, as I commented at the time, a lot better than I expected! 

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 9 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) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 7 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?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 86.7%

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