Event Review

REVIEW: NSPCC Tour of the South East - Day 1

by Jennifer Trotman

GB Flag

Time for another multi-day cycling event: the two-day Tour of the South East, part of the NSPCC Tour of England series. But this isn't just your average two sportives in a row; "The NSPCC Tour of the South East is a tough, truly distinctive, 175-mile multi-stage sportive that offers you the ultimate pro-rider experience... you'll ride in seeded groups, escorted by motorcycle outriders and serviced by domestiques, with back up from an experienced crew of mechanics and soigneurs," the website claimed. 

I was lucky enough to have a place for both days, the 'Yellow Jersey Dinner', and a room at the Radisson Blu hotel in Guildford for the mid-ride night. This Tour was one I was really looking forward to. Something different, somewhere different. Even if it did mean a 3.5 hour drive to Gravesend in Kent the night before. Still, it did make for a relatively leisurely start in the morning - with a 5:30am alarm call, and 6:15am departure to reach HQ at Cyclopark. 

Since we were all in seeded groups - me being in Group 1, the 12-13mph group - we all had staggered start times, so there weren't that many people queuing for registration. Which is just as well as it wasn't very organised. Rather than having one rider pack per rider, each one had to be given their timing tag, number, cable ties, sign a waiver etc. separately. It took quite some time.  


Support cars  

Start line

Sometime after 7:00am Group 1 were gathered together for a pretty comprehensive briefing, which also gave us a chance to meet our ride leader, Ian, and our 'domestique', Dave. As we stood there the weather was looking ominous, and the forecast - though improved on earlier in the week - was pretty convinced that rain was likely. It started spitting a bit as we got to the start line, but I really didn't want to put my waterproof on as it was pretty warm. 

With a countdown and air horn fanfare, we were sent off to do a quick lap of the track before heading out into the Kent countryside, following the arrows and our ride leader. Riding as an enforced group was weird, and took me a long time to get used to. Initially I was somewhere near the back, but having to brake for everyone else, especially downhill, was doing my head in a bit as I hate to lose hard-earned momentum, so I ended up much nearer the front. It wasn't flat either, there were a couple of decent climbs in the first 17 miles to make me realise my legs weren't great, and then an easier stretch to follow to get us to the first food stop. 

The route was quiet and pretty, along lots of leafy Kent lanes past what seemed like an infinite number of Oast houses. There were various stops along the way to wait for others to catch up so we could re-group and carry on.   

Hydration and Houses

NSPCC Support

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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) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 8 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) 10 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?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 93.3%

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