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Cyclosport.org REVIEW: Wiggle Super Series - No Excuses Sportive

by Adam Tranter

NO EXCUSES is exactly what this bloke says.

There are of course other sports wear brands available, but the point is simple; NO EXCUSES is about taking part.  NO EXCUSES is about just getting out there and trying.  On Sunday 20th March at the UK Cycling Events Wiggle Super Series "NO EXCUSES" Sportive that is exactly what 1000 people did.

The principle of this FREE TO ENTER Sportive was clear-cut; register for FREE and expect the same level of service offered at any Wiggle Super Series Event; a well marked and excellently designed course with both Standard (44 mile) and Epic (80 mile) options; well stocked feed stations; chip timing; and a riders goody bag worth £12 (which included a free copy of Cycling Active magazine, Virgin Active Water bottle, High 5 Gel, Eat Natural Bar and a 9 bar).

 

Unique to this event in addition to the FREE of charge entry were FREE massages, Tea and Coffee, bike wash and demonstrations of Satmap Active 10 GPS units.  So, where's the catch?  The catch is genius in its simplicity; if you are a no show, NO EXCUSES, you will be requested to pay £25 which is then donated to the NSPCC.

Of the 1200 places booked 1000 participants turned up at the starting line at Hinchingbrooke House, Huntingdon; if you care to do the maths that is quite a sizable donation to a well deserving charity; the NSPCC, though an excellent turn out for what promised to be a very nice day out riding the lanes in the 3 counties of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, and Northamptonshire.

 

Registration was efficient, easy, relaxed, and there were no queues.  If you wanted, before riding you could grab a coffee, sit and chat with your friends and companions, or wander around the Wiggle stand with Verenti bikes on show, or have a conversation with the people from Satmap and work out a demo of their Active 10 GPS unit.  Or, you could just grab your bike, move to the start, get on and ride. 

It was great to see the diversity of people and bikes at this event.  Folks had really got in to the spirit of what this sportive represented which was to just turn up and have a go.  I had persuaded my friend Gareth, who lives locally to cut his sportive teeth on the No Excuses sportive. 

 

A quick word about Gareth (pictured above) as I feel he deserves a small tribute for his efforts on this day.  Gareth is a stalwart fixie rider (fixie being a fixed gear, single speed, no freewheel racing machine) - he is what I would term as an uber cool, old skool, no nonsense badass!  He commutes 100 miles a week on his bike and to me embodies the spirit of what being a cyclist is all about.  Gareth was slightly apprehensive to be riding 80 miles, he'd taken part in the odd charity ride most notably the London to Cambridge ride organised by the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity, but had never entered Sportive. 

It was also great to see an increase on the number of women at this event.  I am told that at least 20% of participants were women, which is excellent news and something to be encouraged further.  Hopefully one day we will see an even mix of the sexes at a cyclosportive event?

 

This being my fourth event in as many weeks I was hoping for some nice gentle riding, and with the promise that the 3 counties in question are relatively flat this suited me just fine.  The course on offer delivered too, it was a nice gentle amble out of Huntington out into the very quiet lanes circumnavigating Grafham Water and looping out in to the County of Bedfordshire. 

I am not familiar with the area at all, so it was very nice to be able to spend some time with my head up taking in the views and the landscape.  Either it was in the planning of the course, or it is simply a matter of excellent maintenance in those 3 counties but the roads were a shining example of being very nearly immaculate.  If you are a tax payer in that area you should be very proud. 

There was a brisk wind out on the course most of the day.  I barely caught my bearings so couldn't really say what direction it was coming from and with little in the way of it along the course due to the flatness of the terrain, it meant that half the time you were fighting against it.  It wasn't strong, but just enough to have your thighs burning a bit. 

 

The course ran south wards from Grafham Water and looped north with the route split heading east near Swineshead not long after the Bedford Autodrome, the longer route continuing north to make several diversions through Bedfordshire into Northamptonshire and back again into Cambridgeshire before joining up with the Standard route again at Stonely. 

The latter half of the Epic route, before it rejoined the Standard route was undulating.  The hills weren't enormous but just challenging enough to raise the heart rate a little more.  Both courses heading back to Huntingdon passed Grafham Water which was a little busier on the water this time of passing. 

The NO EXCUSES sportive ticked all the boxes as an early season event.  The egalitarian principles of UK Cycling Events for this Sportive gave the chance to riders of all abilities and persuasions to get on a bicycle and try out a sportive.

Hopefully having had the experience of the NO EXCUSES sportive maybe the cycling bug will have bitten and the habit will stick and those who don't normally take to two wheels will make use of a bike more, and perhaps even have a go at another sportive.   

 

I have to be honest I thought Gareth was mad to attempt an 80 mile sportive on a single speed fixie (with pannier rack, pannier bag with packed lunch and tools inside, bike lock and bum bag) but I was also in awe of the nerve of it.  Credit to him he ploughed through those miles, took on the hills and I believe enjoyed every minute of it.  Gareth's thoughts on the day can be found here.

The course provided a delightful tour of those flatlands (and the surprising lumps) around Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northampton on relatively traffic free roads and I hope to go back one day and explore a little more. 

The package on offer from the NO EXCUSES sportive was incredibly generous, the course excellently marked (new red signs with white arrows this year), the help was friendly and welcoming and the feed stations well stocked with Sportive staples (bananas and flapjacks, High 5 energy drink), cakes and SANDWICHES (real food), along with all the other treats on offer!  And don't forget all of this for FREE!      

If this review inspires you to get on the bike or if you were at the NO EXCUSES sportive and fancy having another go, get down to the next Sportive event from UK Cycling Events Wiggle Super Series in the New Forest on the 16th/17th April - Cyclosport will be there on the Sunday.  I believe there are still places available on the additional event being hosted on the Saturday which has been laid on as extra this year due to the overwhelming demand for the New Forest Spring Sportive.           

As always, please stop by and rate the event and leave comment here, you can also leave a comment at the bottom of this piece. 





1 Comment

Admin
2nd June 2011 10:46pm Admin wrote:

Superb event but would have preferred a hill or two somewhere. Having said that, the relentless headwind on sections provided a compensatory challenge for the lack of hills. Tarmac was the smoothest I think I've ever ridden on and the lack of traffic was just amazing. Overall, this was an absolute pleaseure to ride. wiggle must run this again next year.