Event Review

Giant Rutland CiCLE Tour REVIEW

by Sean Lacey

Date: Saturday 20th April
Distances: 54 miles, 75 miles and 100 miles
Entry fee: £25.00
Participants: 900 entrants
Start: Rutland Water. Parking readily available on site and an additional parking area 2 miles away, managed by Anglian Water and parking fee's waived. Event village based around the Giant store with trade stands, food and drink
Feedstops: 1 on the medium route, 2 on the 100 mile route
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride (some free)
Timed: Timing chip on lanyard, manually checked at the start, finish and feed stops 
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with signage (red arrows on white background)
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes and minor B roads with constant ups and downs. On route support and professional photographers out around the route
Goody bag: High5 gels and bidon at the start, free filled bap at the finish.

The Ride:

After the lie in on my last sportive, it was completely the opposite today, with a two hour drive and sign-on opening at 7:30am for the long route riders. An early night had been in order, but it never seems to make getting up at 5:30 any easier! Having prepped the night before I only had to eat and get the car loaded for the trip out to Rutland, and the HQ at the Giant store next to the reservoir. An easy enough trip so early on a Saturday morning saw little traffic about until finding the short queue to enter the car park. ITP Events covered the £3 charge for riders and I just made it in before it filled up (it seems there were even earlier risers than me, it was packed out at 8am). The start was just opening with riders heading out, and sign on was quick and efficient with no queues within the store. A couple of High5 gels were handed out, but I didn't take the bidon also offered as I had two full bottles on the bike. The weather is always a factor one way or another on these events but today promised to be spectacular - even this early it was blue skies and sunshine, albeit a bit chilly.

Riders Ready
Riders Ready

Once issued with my chip I joined the start queue which again was nice and short, so only a couple of minutes wait for the group in front to move out and we were off. I'm always guilty this early in the season of racing off from the gun and paying later on, but with the sun shining and in such a beautiful location I was more than happy to relax a bit and roll out at a more sedate pace. The first few miles were easy going, heading away from the reservoir and passing through Oakham and heading north through quaint villages and vast swathes of farmland.

One thing that did surprise me was the constant up and downs which were pretty much consistent, I had naively assumed that the route was pretty flat from my limited knowledge of the area. Never particularly steep, with one or two short exceptions, but long rhythm climbs. The sun was warming the air as time went by and riders at the roadside shedding layers was becoming a regular sight. The medium route split off at Buckminster reducing the groups slightly as we headed further north through Saltby with Belvoir castle appearing in the distance on the hilltop. Before reaching the castle was the first feed station at Knipton, 30 miles in.

Knipton Feed Approach

Enjoying The Sunshine
Enjoying The Sunshine

Having had my chip swiped on entry it was a brief stop to top up a bottle and take on calories, with a good selection of flapjacks, cakes bananas and crisps (always a nice change from all the sweet stuff) it was back on the road and straight into another decent climb over the ridge up to Belvoir castle, then back down, back up, back down.. you get the idea. It was a testing section and some were visibly suffering. Heading back in a southerly direction put us into the wind now, which although light at around 10mph was enough to make itself felt.

Glorious cycling weather
Glorious Spring Cycling Weather

The constant climbing and descending continued, and if I'm honest were beginning to take their toll. I'm no stranger to hills but the frequency and length were something I'd not encountered before and my legs were getting heavy, but not to the point of giving up just yet. There aren't many natural points of reference amongst the miles and miles of farmland and what landmarks there are all seem to be man-made, with a radio tower being visible for miles, which we eventually climbed up to and passed. As I stopped for the photo on the narrow lane, a car stopped alongside to ask what was going on. After I briefly explained about the ride, two cars had followed and both thought I was a local tour guide, asking the same question.

tower radio
Radio Tower

Short talk given, I was underway again for the push on to the second feed at Owston, a key location in the professional race following on the Sunday. All decked out with sponsor boards and signs ready for the days racing to come, it looked the part. An additional to the usual fare at this feed were sandwiches laid on in the village hall, with a big variety of fillings, I'm not sure what they all were but the two I had were delicious and most welcome. While sitting for a moment outside, the Madison Genesis team rode through on a course recce, I wasn't quick enough to snap them but did manage the back of the team car.

madison genesis team roll through
Madison Genesis Team Roll Through On A Recce at Owston Feedstop

Full up and refilled for the final 35 miles, and stripped of arm and knee warmers we passed through the Launde Abbey estate, and the short but stiff climb out shocked a few before it returned to the rolling profile we had seen so much of.

launde abbey
Launde Abbey

launde abbey estate
Launde Abbey Estate

A journey through more picturesque villages, one of which from a distance seemed to be on fire, but it was just someone burning what must have been huge amounts of garden waste in the back garden, brought us to the top of a hill with a spectacular view of Eyebrook reservoir, glittering in the sun below. After a fast descent down to the waterside the route gave a little respite as it followed the shoreline before climbing away once more, and to the next landmark of the impressive Harringworth viaduct, a truly massive piece of engineering which is still part of the rail network today. It also signalled the last 10 miles or so back to the HQ, and my legs were pretty thankful to be honest. Picking up familiar roads from my journey in this morning the mental edge kicked in and all woes were forgotten for a quick run in to the busy finish line, welcomed by staff who checked us in and directed us to de-register and seek free food.

finish line
The Finish Line

Food welcome
Food Was Welcome

Time To Relax

I don't think we could have asked for  better day for the time of year, and in such a beautiful location with the stunning countryside it was a great day all round. No one seemed to be complaining and the atmosphere at the finish echoed my feelings. The route was great, barely any traffic and no major roads to contend with. Signage was clear and complete with none missing, although the GPS route supplied on the website did vary ever so slightly from the marked route on the day. The feeds were well stocked and held a good variety, with the sandwiches at the second feed and rolls at the end nice to see.

I couldn't stay for the pro race the following day, but it would have made a great weekend for those that could. Giant and Schwalbe as main sponsors were on hand at key points to offer assistance and seemed to be kept busy with the large number of entrants, many undertaking a sportive for the first time from the feedback I got of the people I talked to. Overall a well organised and friendly event, and I think for £25.00 in this expanding market pretty good value.

rutland water
Rutland Water

Strava ride info: http://app.strava.com/rides/49743861

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) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 9 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 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) 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%