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Event Review

REVIEW: Saddleback Sodbury Sportive 2014

by Jennifer Trotman

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REVIEW: Saddleback Sodbury Sportive 2014

Essentials

Date: 17th August
Location: Chipping Sodbury RFC
Distance: 30, 60, 100 miles

And so the sportive calendar rolls on... with another 5:15 alarm call dragging me from sleep and back onto the road again. Today's target? The Saddleback Sodbury Sportive starting from, as you may have guessed, Chipping Sodbury. Not a first for me - I did the inaugural edition in 2012 - which makes this their third, and my second. But I had fond memories of it, and so here I was again this year. 

SS1
Saddleback Sodbury Sportive 2014

HQ was an hour's drive away, at Chipping Sodbury RFC. Easy to find, and easily marshalled onto the playing field where the ranks of cars were slowly filling up and discharging lycra clad cyclists and their steeds. With a positive weather forecast, but a distinct chill in the air, conversations were mostly concerning what to wear. Before I made such momentous decisions, I headed off towards the clubhouse and found the registration marquee outside, as yet fairly queue-less at the surname ordered desks.  I duly signed my name, and collected my bike number (complete with integral timing chip) and two cable ties, before making my way inside to pick up a free cup of coffee. 

SS2
Nice touch

SS3
Bikes galore

I decided that limb warmers and gilet were the way to go, and trusted that leaving the rain jacket in the car would not prove to be an unwise decision. There wasn't much else to do, so me and my trusty steed headed for HQ. I trimmed the cable ties with the cable cutters provided - a nice touch that - and parked up so that I could use the facilities while waiting.   

I was amongst the first to be ushered into the start pen when it opened. It was sort of considering being sunny as we all stood there waiting, and pretending to ignore the official photographer, which was nice. Finally the time came for the rider briefing, complete with a top dressing warning, and the usual "play nice, be good, it's not a race" warning from one of the many yellow tabarded Rotary Club volunteers. 

SS4
 Briefing

SS5
Ready for the off

Time to go then. No fanfare, but nonetheless we were off on our way into the Cotswold countryside. I was prepared. In as much as that I'd read my review from 2012 and looked at the route profile anyway... This meant knew that however nice the first few miles were, it was going to be less pleasant very shortly.

About five miles from the start there are three big hills: The Hawkesbury Howler, the Alderley Grunt, and the Tresham Tester, one after the other...and if I hadn't known that things were going to get easier after that, the latter of them could have had me walking! Still, I recovered fairly quickly, and just in time to not enjoy the aforementioned and recently top-dressed section afterwards. 

SS6
Tower 

Onwards and luckily not upwards, through a constant stream of cutesy villages, and quiet country lanes. The route split comes all of 11 miles in, and I didn't even consider opting for the 60 miles instead of the 100, or more accurately 102.2, according to the Garmin file I'd downloaded the night before. Nope, it was a right turn for me. It was really windy out there, mostly in our favour initially, though once again having prepared for a change, I knew that that wasn't going to last either. 

SS7
Quiet roads

SS8
Thatched cottages


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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 10 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) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 7 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 8 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?) 8 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 90.0%




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