Event Review

Action Warwickshire 100 REVIEW

by Mark Powell

Essentials:
Date: Sunday 28th April 2013
Distances:
Cool route: 37 miles
Classic route: 64 miles
Champion route: 102 miles
Entry fee: £28.00 for fundraisers or £50 for sportive entry
Start: Stratford Race Course. Parking readily available at the Race Course. Event HQ based within the Racecourse facilities, providing registration and refreshments.
Feedstops: 1 on the "cool" route, 2 on the "classic" route and 3 on the "champions" route.
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride (some free)
Timed: Timing chip on ride number positioned on handlebars
Signs: A very clearly way-marked route
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes and minor B roads with constant ups and downs, a small number of short but sharp climbs, adding some spice. Mobile support, first aid and professional photographers on the route
Goody bag: High5 gels and bidon at the finish.

The Ride:
It was a chilly and early start in order to arrive in time for the 6.45am registration and 7.15am ride start. Registration was smooth and hassle free at the HQ which was based in the bar area within the racecourse complex in the centre of the course.

registration
Registration At Ride HQ

parking
Parking For The Event Was Plentiful

racecourse
View Of The Stands From The Parking Side

Liz and I were joined for the ride by Helen, we had decided to ride the "Champions" ride which was advertised as 102 miles, this was to be Helen's maiden century. With electronic timing chips, this was a good opportunity for Helen to measure her progress in preparing for this years London to Paris.

It was one of those April mornings, which present a clothing dilemma - wrap up for the cold start, only to find you're slowly cooking by the finish. We opted for a layered approach, including mid weight gloves, approaching the line and winter gloves felt like a better option! Having dispensed with the usual pre ride safety briefings and formalities, we were set on our way.

helen and liz
Helen (left) and Liz (right) Preparing For The Off

So we hit the open (and very chilly) road, hoping our clothing strategy wouldn't ruin our ride. The route provided little in the way of challenge for the first 20 or so miles, with many roads having been recently resurfaced we took advantage of the lack of potholes and made good progress.

Shortly after the 20 mile marker we met the first significant tester at the Shenington Road climb, the short but steep climb caught a few riders out and created some bunching but everyone made it up safe without the need to call upon the First Aiders stragically placed at the summit of the climb.

shenington road climb
View From The Top Of The Shenington Road Climb

The first feed station arrived shortly after the 26 mile marker at Shutford village hall. There was a good variety of food available at the feedstation, including flapjack, jaffa cakes, bananas and biscuits. Drinks came in the form of water and energy drinks.

shutford hall
Shutford Village Hall

fed and watered
Fed And Watered Preparing For Next Leg

Setting off from Shutford we made our way through the pleasant villages of Tadmarton and Swalclife having made the turn at the eastern most point of the ride.

swalclif
Enjoying The Views In Swalclife Village

Travelling West we made our way from Oxfordshire back into Warwickshire, clipping the Cotswolds on the way, passing through Shipston on Stour and the village of Ilmington (for the second time on the ride).

From Ilmington we headed into Mickleton, with the route taking us past the famous Pudding Club, although it was tempting to stop and sample the latest menu, we pushed on towards the second feed station at Littleton village hall travelling through Honeybourne and passing the National Domestic Fowl Trust visitor centre and café (for all your chicken needs). The menu at Littleton matched the first feed station but was still well received.

littleton
Liz Testing The Menu At Littleton

food of champions
Food Of Champions

Stop number two behind us, we headed North and through the village of Bidford on Avon, famous for its narrow bridge, previously demolished by Charles 1st when retreating but repaired in 1650. The bridge also had to be repaired after a combine harvester got wedged between its walls!

bidford
The View Across The Water At Bidford Upon Avon

Having kept our feet dry through Bidford, we weaved our way North visiting the picturesque villages of Broom and Dunnington, before riding past the gates of Ragley Hall on the way to Alcester. Picking up some of the local 'B' roads we made good progress with our first time centurian enjoying the pleasant roads and scenery.

As we passed the two thirds point of the ride, we continued North and the well trodden sportive routes and villages of Great and Little Alne, then Wooton Wawen, passing the front gates of Wooton Hall and St Peters church.

Although the weather was beginning to warm, we were beginning to feel the breeze picking up, making the going a little tougher. At the 77 mile mark, we stopped for the final time at what was described by ride organisers as the "lunch" stop and they weren't wrong. Cakes, a vast array of pasta, cold meats, pork pie and various exotic salads were on the menu and were very well received by the long distance cyclists.

cakes
A wide variety of cakes on offer (the cinnamon swirls a personal favourite)

food
So Much Food!

After the final stage and leaving the picturesque village hall and canal behind us, it was now time to make that determined dash to the finish line. We headed North, crossing the M40, passing through Hatton, skirting Baddersley Clinton before turning for home and passing through the hamlets of Mousley End and Shrewley.

Once we reached Norton Lindsay, we had the wind behind us and made good progress through the stunning villages of Aston Cantlow (where the last sting in the tail hit us as we climbed the last climb) and Wilmescote. With our 100-mile virgin in tow we navigated our way past some of the Shakespearean tourist hotspots, including Mary Arden and Ann Hathaway's houses before finally arriving back at the Racecourse to a hero's welcome.

On crossing the line we were provided with riders medal, energy product bundle and quickly de-robed of our timing chips. With no further fuss, it was a congratulatory hug for the newest member of the 100-mile club before a quick cuppa at the racecourse café.

champion
A Few Champion Course Riders Enjoying A Cuppa

In summary, this is a relatively expensive ride, however the feed station are very well stocked with a variety of products. The route takes in many of the popular sportive routes for this area but sections are reversed to provide a new challenge.

The ride was well organise and extremely well sign posted, providing some short but relatively steep ascents.


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) 9 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 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?) 10 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 94.4%