Event Review

Wiggle Etape Cymru REVIEW

by Sean Lacey

Essentials:

Date: Sunday 8th September
Distances: 88 miles, 9000 feet of climbing
Entry fee: £59
Start: Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse, Wrexham
Catering: Bar / café at the racecourse (not free)
Feed stops: 4  Participants: c.1700
Timing: Chip sticker attached to helmet, results sent by text message after the event and on the website by the end of the day
Signs: Large yellow signs with black text / arrows
Roads: Closed to traffic, variable road surfaces through stunning Welsh countryside and plenty of challenging climbing
Photos: www.sportivephoto.com
Goody bag:  Finishers medal, free samples in a Wiggle bag
Facilities: Plenty of free parking on site, Motorcycle outriders, Mavic support and broom wagon. 

This is the second year Human Race have run the event after its shaky start in 2011, and I was keen to see if they could replicate what was an excellent experience last year. As with most closed road events they request that you register the day before, and this time they had moved to the lovely town of Llangollen; with loads to do there and it being relatively close I decided to take my daughter with me and make a day of it. Based at the Pavilion it made a great base to explore once the pack containing your numbers and timing chip had been collected. There was also a number of stands from retailers and local producers.

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 Llangollen Pavilion

Onto the day itself, and an early start at Bangor-on-Dee racecourse, returning as the start venue for the second year. With plentiful free parking and the facilities you would expect at a premier venue it makes an ideal HQ. Times were allocated from 7am in waves containing 250 riders, so waiting was kept to a minimum before you were off.

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Racecourse HQ

The main route of the ride through the hillier areas was the same as last year, but the route out from the racecourse, skirting Wrexham to get to the good stuff had changed slightly, shortening the out and back section a little and using pretty good roads (some of which were freshly surfaced). The first of the big climbs came over the Shelf and Panorama, giving spectacular view over the countryside. Some fast and technical descending brought you back down to the valley levels before a run up the long and timed climb of the Horeshoe Pass. The weather was being kind today and with minimal wind it was a pleasant climb up, nearly always into the wind when it does blow.

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Panorama

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Great views

A fun fast descent follows on a wide and well surfaced road, with some rolling terrain easing the legs out before the last tough climb over Worlds End. A sharp right turn off the main road points you steeply skyward for the initial climb, before it eases out slightly as you head over the moor. Here it was windy, despite no wind elsewhere - I'm sure it's the law or something that it blows up here. Finally reaching the summit after a couple of miles climbing you are rewarded with another fast and technical descent, with the added challenge of the infamous ford. The last two times I have ridden this road (once up, once down) I have heeded the local advice and got off and used the stepping stones to cross. However, getting there this time on my own, and it looking like there was a moss-free way though I gingerly rode through - and made it. The smug feeling was broken though when I looked up to see a full ambulance crew stood on the other side, who when I spoke to them told me that as per usual a number of people had slipped and had nasty falls. Thinking myself lucky it was time to crack on. 

ECWorlds End moor

ECThe ford

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Ford rescue party

The route crosses over itself at a later point and you climb Panorama again in the opposite direction, which is the easier way. Once again, you are rewarded with those views. Once we dropped back into the valley,r we followed the route out to the hills in reverse and back to the racecourse finish. Given a nice finishers medal, VitaCoco were handing out drinks and Wiggle supplied the goody bag.

There were four feeds along the route, all extremely well stocked with Powerbar products (and drinks), along with the usual sportive fair; flapjack, sweets and fruit etc. (cooked salted new potatoes even). Queuing was minimal and toilets were provided at all of them, with additional staff walking among the riders with trays at the two busiest stops.

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Busy feed

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Well stocked

The roads were a mix of main roads, B roads and back lanes with surfaces from brand new to broken up, but nothing you wouldn't find anywhere in the country. All of the junctions were marshaled and the crossing points where traffic was allowed through were well handled with no delays to riders. Signage was provided at the turns and Wiggle had helpfully put up a number of amusing motivational signs around the route too which raised a few smiles.

Back at the HQ Hot food and drinks were on sale at the restaurant which had been aimed at a cyclist's diet and pretty reasonably priced.

Overall the event was a great days riding, as well run as last year with small improvements made to enhance the event even further. It seems someone had thrown tacks over the road very early on, which took out around six riders and a support motorcycle, but the local police soon had it cleared up before the masses arrived. Once again a superbly organized event and one I would recommend you try next year.

Route information: http://app.strava.com/activities/80977257


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) 10 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) 9 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?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 91.1%




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