Event Review

REVIEW: Lupus 50/50

by Sean Lacey


Date: Sunday 27th January
Distances: 50 kilometres and 50 miles
Entry fee: £7.50 (£10 on the day)
Participants: 203 entrants
Start: Run & Ride store, Hednesford. Plenty of free parking.
Feedstops: 1
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride (first one free)
Timed: No
Signs: Way-marked route with black on yellow signs

Roads: Rolling route with a couple of sharper climbs. Re-route predominantly on main roads.

Goody bag: None

My season seems to start earlier each year, especially with the rise of traditional reliability rides taking the next step to become full blown sportives and this is the earliest yet, after itself transforming from a reliability. Helpfully being local, and that all the profits (which the organisers have already given an account of) will go to local charity the Hibbs Lupus Trust swayed the decision to enter at the back end of last year. It also meant that as I decided early on my return to cycling that I would never abandon an event because of the weather, it would force me out regardless.

Seeing as we were in the 'big freeze' as the media were dubbing it, and to be fair we had rather a lot of snow in the Midlands this did perhaps seem a little foolhardy, and the event nearly did get cancelled from a safety point right up until the day before. As luck would have it though, the weather turned completely on the Saturday and the worst of the snow and ice disappeared.

Getting there reasonably early I found the car park packed, which was a good sign for others getting out too, and for a change I was riding with five other members of my cycling club. A short trek from the car park to the Run & Ride store who were handling the organising and sign-on, which was dealt with efficiently, and plenty of riders had taken advantage of the break in the weather to register on the day.

Signing On

Crowds Gather

Once I had collected my number and returned to the car, got the bike out and prepped, I wandered off to find my club buddies. The wait for them to get ready, well, some of them, was... protracted. Once we were all set we popped back to the store, which was the start point, to find it deserted - everyone else already on the road. Oh well, at least we wouldn't be jostling for position.

Here though the route problems started. As the route had been changed for safety, the newer GPS route hadn't been uploaded (I had the original in my Garmin) and I guess as it was last minute, up to date route maps weren't available. This, and the lack of an arrow showing which way to turn out of the estate - we missed the briefing remember - meant a gamble on the direction. I was leading and guessed left, my Garmin didn't argue so we were OK.

Early Climb

A few miles in, we passed a road on the left marked on the Garmin, but no sign in sight. We pulled over, the first of many times, to decide what to do. Follow the original route and guarantee not getting lost, or press on and hope we spot the signs. The vote (and they will deny it now) was to follow the Garmin, so off we went on to the smaller lanes. For a good few miles, it was great, the sun was out, and the blustery wind had dried the roads out a treat.

Malcolm Still Smiling At This Point

At around 18 miles in, I remarked to the others that there was a feed stop at 20 miles, but wait, as we weren't on the re-route, would we pass it? 22 miles in we had our answer - no. No problem, we all came prepared, so a quick stop to get food in and off again. Here it started to get noticeably wetter as we stuck to the lanes, with the puddles getting bigger.

Sunny But Damp

Starting To Get Wetter

It soon became a pattern of wet road, followed by stretches of floods, albeit pretty shallow. That didn't last too long as they got deeper and longer, until we hit a section just before a small village that was well above bottom bracket height. We stopped on the only dry patch of land next to the village green and surveyed the land. Water in every direction. The Garmin was telling us to carry on up through the village, but a tractor coming down the lane with plumes of water arcing each side of it told us that might not be a good idea. The left turn rose up a hill after a short distance so we plumped to head off-route and seek higher, drier land. Fortunately after following this lane for a few miles it dropped us back on the a main road that was part of the route. Result, but it had chopped off a few miles from the tip of the route.

Shallow flood - wasn't going to stop in the deeper ones!

dry land
Back On Dry Land

From here on in we realised that Run & Ride probably did know best, so kept a keen eye out for the route signs. The wind had really got into its stride now though, and with the odd hail shower made the final miles testing to say the least. I was pleased that I had got a some miles in over the last few weeks and turbo sessions aplenty as it helped no end having a bit of condition to plug away, head down. With the forests of Cannock Chase coming into view you knew there wasn't too far to go, and the trees provided some welcome shelter from the wind.

Shelter In The Trees

 As is customary, the sun reappeared and the wind dropped with less than 5 miles to go, making the German War cemetery in the heart of Cannock Chase look almost summery.

german War Cemetery

A final push through Hednesford and the last test, the climb up to the business park and the Run & Ride store paved the way to refreshments in the form of hot drinks and cake upstairs in the warehouse. After the cold, rain, wind and wet feet (sorry again lads), it was most welcome.

Much Needed Sustenance

Also I must mention that there was an odd collection in the warehouse - I'd like to think of it as a weird fetish, but I expect they are recycled or sent out to 3rd world countries - I forgot to ask!

Postal Bike Warehouse

The ride, although we ended up almost doing a Triathlon, was great fun and after a good amount of mickey taking I wasn't lynched in the car park. Run & Ride did well to keep the event on at all, but the last minute route changes and lack of route map did put enough doubt in our minds, on unfamiliar roads, to risk the originally planned route. The signage wasn't too bad in design, but it really needed more of it in key places to make sure you were happy you were still on the right route. For the minimal entry cost however, and for their first attempt I thought overall it was well run and no-one seemed to be complaining afterwards. It is good to know that the Hibbs Lupus Trust ended up with over £1200 pounds too, which is really what the event is all about.

I don't doubt we will be back next year, but I do doubt anyone will follow me again!

 Strava ride info:

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) n/a
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 7 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) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 6 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 7 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 5 out of 10
Overall Rating 70.0%

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