Archive REVIEW: Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive

by Adam Tranter

The New Forest is a beautiful place to cycle. While it remains, on the whole, unchallenging, it provides a fantastic backdrop to enjoy the simple pleasure of riding a bike. And when the sun is shining, that can't be bad either.

The Wiggle Super Series (provided by UK Cycling Events) seem to know this as well. They run two events a year here, and for the New Forest Spring Sportive, they ran a road sportive on two consecutive days; testament to its popularity.

I opted for the 57-mile route. Perhaps because I had a 4-hour drive to Cornwall afterwards, and also probably because of the fact I'm lacking in some cycling fitness at the moment. That route encompassed some beautiful villages within the forest, as well as some well-known towns and landmarks. It also included Blissford Hill, which caused sufficient problems for riders with its 25% short-but-steep gradient.

Sign on was managed well, with 10 people behind the desks there was next-to-no queue. You received your timing chip (helmet sticker), handlebar number and a free tea/coffee voucher for the end. What's more, if you signed up to the event 6 weeks in advance, you'd receive a High5 Race Faster pack.

About 1300 people started out from Brockenhurst, an excellent start venue. It provided ample changing facilities, toilets, a spacious hall and enough space for parking and trade stands. As is usual, when parking filled up, people were moved onto the adjacent field, which wasn't a problem.

After a quick briefing, we were off into the New Forest countryside. Signage for the event was obvious and extremely frequent. Not once did I feel confused about the direction we were travelling to.

Covered sections of the forest proved challenging enough for you to have to work up minor gradients, which was mixed up with some fast, exposed sections of the New Forest. Even as we approach the summer, on a school holiday, the course was extremely quiet. Drivers were fairly understanding too, and didn't seem too bothered about the thousand or so riders on the New Forest roads.

If you haven't visited, the New Forest is such a scenic and untouched place. Animals roam free and roads are interesting, and sometimes quite narrow. It's worth a visit, even if you're not on the bike.

On the whole, the New Forest has good road surfaces and it was a nice change from the usual Surrey potholes. And with trains from London calling at Brockenhurst station (just 2 minute ride from the HQ), plenty were coming down for the day to ride.

Just as you were feeling you were coming to the end of the ride, at around 33 miles, up cropped the feed stop. It was good timing to fill up the bottles and grab a few snacks. The Wiggle Super Series feed stations, in my experience, are fairly well stocked. But when I arrived, a lot of cyclists also arrived at the same time, causing a new dilemma.

The feed station staff were busy tidying up the litter from already-eaten food, and filling up the High5 buckets with energy drink. But while this was being done, when I arrived, there was no food on the table, except for a handful of jellybeans. It's a minor point, because the staff were getting around to it, but there was a good 5-7 minutes of waiting around before one rider took the initiative and opened the flapjacks and distributed them himself.

We eventually got stocked up with bananas and 9Bars, and kept on riding through the last section. Blissford Hill was approaching just a few miles after the stop, so I was keen to get my legs turning again. Luckily, I made it to the top without putting my foot down - many didn't. Sitting at the top watching the chaos must have been pretty entertaining.

I made the last bit back fairly uneventfully. I wasn't riding with a cycle computer, so the 'You're nearly there!" signs were helpful for a last effort of motivation towards the end.

The concept of a few more miles was too much for my mate Chris

When people finished back at the HQ in Brockenhurst, they were cheerily greeted by the Wiggle Super Series staff, handed a medal and a goodie bag. It was a nice day out. This is a perfect first sportive, or one to do with friends. There were lots of people riding their first sportive, which is healthy for the sport.

We liked: The cheery atmosphere, weather, signage, and ease of sign on
We didn't: Wait at feed stop

Did you ride the Wiggle Super Series New Forest Spring Sportive? If so, rate the event here - Click Here >>

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