Event Review

REVIEW: Wiggle Wight Ferry 2014

by Caven O'Hara

GB Flag

Wiggle Wight Ferry Sportive 

Essentials:

Distances: 73 & 95 miles 
Participants: 650 sold out for Saturday & Sunday 
Start: Gang Warily Leisure Centre, Fawley, Southampton 
Transport: Beaulieu Road station, 7.5 miles 
Feedstops: 4 
Timed: Yes 
Services: Mechanical assistance, medical support, massage, event photography, broom wagon, finishers T shirt & medal, free ice cream voucher and web results service 
Signs: White arrows on an orange background 
Road: A quick spin from the start venue to the harbour at Lymington for the ferry. The circuit of the Isle of Wight was both longer and lumpier than you expect but threw up some great views despite the wind. The addition of the ferry adds something different to the sportive with a chance to chat to other riders. 

The Wight Ferry sportive, as the name suggests is one of the rarer breed of events that not only involve plenty of pedalling, but a boat trip too. Starting on the mainland at Fawley, there was a brief spin through the New Forest at Beaulieu down to Lymington to catch the first of two ferries. 

This event attracted me for the dual reasons of riding somewhere different (I've been on holiday to the island but never ridden there) and the opportunity to try the ferry trip. The downside to all of this adventure is the location is not on my doorstep and involved a 4am departure. I haven't seen darkness in the morning for quite a while now and coupled with the heavy rain, this was not an auspicious start. 

The journey down was largely clear from traffic but already a large amount of standing water was in evidence. As the miles ticked by the sun struggled to make an appearance but the rain did relent. Getting closer to the event HQ at Fawley more cars were heading in the same direction and the rain stopped. 

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Registration

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Limbering up

The start point was located at the interestingly named Gang Warily leisure centre. With two ride distances on offer, the sign-on process had been clearly stipulated in the pre-ride emails as to the registration and ferry times for both. So with a half hour window registration was busy with the riders undertaking the Epic. As usual there were plenty of volunteers to keep the process running smoothly and efficiently though. 

With the normal procedures followed, timing chip stuck on the helmet and number attached to the bike it was time to line-up for the safety briefing. It was to the point and swift which with meant we were quickly out on the course. The first leg down to Lymington was a ten mile warm up before arriving at the harbour for the outward ferry. Given there was a specific ferry we had to board, there was the additional pressure but we had been given plenty of time. 

The only downside with ferry trips being included are the inevitable delays waiting to board and then the journey itself. None were particularly long, but they add to the time required. The staff made sure that all rider times were stopped for the duration of the boat legs. There was also the first feed stop on the harbour side to allow you have a bite to eat before getting on board if you needed too. The unusual aspect of getting the ferry meant you get a chance to chat to fellow riders, not something you get a chance to do normally. What was surprising is the distances that some of my fellow riders had travelled. Cambridge, East London and Kent to name a few, highlighting the popularity of cycling, and the success of the UKCyclingEvents. 

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The ferry!

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Not your usual sportive view


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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) 9 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) 8 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 91.1%