Event Review

REVIEW: The Guide Dogs Tour of Berkshire 2015

by Jennifer Trotman

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REVIEW: Guide Dogs Tour of Berkshire 2015 

Date: Sunday 12th April
Distances: 41.5km Fun Ride/84km Classic/125km Epic 
Entry fee: £30 
Participants: c.250 
Start: Guide Dogs HQ, Hillfields, Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire 
Feedstops: three on Epic route 
Catering: various catering vans on site. 
Timing: electronic tag on seat post number. 
Signs: big black arrows on fluoro green background 
Roads: Scenic on mostly quiet country roads. 
Photos: taken on two sites en route 
Goody bag: entry bag with freebies, finisher's certificate 

Another Sunday, another sportive.  Which is the story of my life this month, and I'm not complaining. 



This time it was the Guide Dogs Tour of Berkshire, running for its second year.  It's not a huge event, and it's about raising money for the charity, not laying on an imitation Etape for Mamils.  It is also one I haven't done before, somewhere I rarely ride, and there's a lot to be said for novelty value.  I also knew that it was only 77 miles max, the forecast was good and it had a whole heap less climbing than the last event I did.  What's not to love? 

I was there pretty much as planned, around 8:00am, and parked up in the walled garden staff car park. All very pretty, just like the house and grounds itself. It was all fairly low-key, but very sportive. Portable toilets, tent to sign up in and various catering outlets all set out on the lawn. 

Even though the instructions had insisted on photo id, as did the desk itself, nobody checked. Anyway I was duly handed my bag with my official numbers and various small goodies which I took back to the car. 



First off - the bike number.  I'm not a fan of seat post numbers.  They just don't work with my bike/saddle bag combo. Also the "don't bend" instructions for the timing tag on it had me a bit worried, but hey, there wasn't much I could do about it. The helmet number was easy, though I'd rather not have bothered, but felt I ought to.   

I continued to potter in the sunshine, debating what layers I had and which to actually wear. But I reckon I had it covered. Although it was due to be warm, it wasn't quite yet, but the potential was definitely in the air. I missed the horn for the start as I was queuing for the toilets.  As I headed to join the start queue I discovered that there wasn't a queue if you were doing the "Epic" route and I was ushered straight through. I was off! 

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 6 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) 7 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 5 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) 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?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 78.9%

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