Event Review

REVIEW: NSPCC Tour of Yorkshire

by Sean Lacey

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REVIEW: NSPCC Tour of Yorkshire

Essentials: 

Date: Saturday and Sunday 19th / 20th July 
Distances: 90 miles (day one) and 90 miles (day two) 
Entry fee: Various options, see event website for details 
Participants:  c. 200 entrants  
Start: York Sports Village, plenty of parking available, overnight accommodation and bike storage at St James College 
Feedstops: 3 on both days 
Catering: Hot/cold drinks available before and after the ride on both days 
Timed: Timing chip (sticker) on helmet   
Signs: A clearly way-marked route with arrow signage (white arrows with logo) 
Roads: Good routes on quiet lanes and minor B roads with hilly terrain on day one and less climbing on day two. 
Goody bag: Finishers medal, champagne, Ginger & French prints, samples, event jersey 
Picture credits: Sean Lacey, NSPCC 

The Tour of Yorkshire is a new event for 2014, and the second in the NSPCC's Tour of England series - with the first taking place in the South East. No stranger to multi day events, I was looking forward to this as if I'm honest, other than a short jaunt a few days before the Tour de France hit the county, I hadn't ridden in Yorkshire before and was keen to explore the roads and scenery. 

Cyclosport writer, Jennifer Trotman covered the first of the two events in June, so I had a good idea of what to expect - along with the excellent information the organisers sent out covering everything you would need to know in advance. Heading up to the base for the event in York, the heatwave we had been enjoying looked to be cracking over the weekend, but it would still be warm so I packed light, confident I wouldn't be caught out this time. 

Accommodation was available just a mile or so from the Sports Village within the grounds of St James College, part of the University of York campus where I was to be based for two nights, and the venue for the 'Yellow Jersey' dinner on Saturday night.  Arriving late evening, and having checked in, an early night was in order for another early start. 

ToY1
Registration 

ToY2
Misty morning 

The Tour of England rides have been modelled on trying to provide a pro experience for amateur riders, with seeded groups, a full support crew out on the road, domestiques within the groups to guide and support riders, a lead car up front with a support car at the rear, and NEG outriders to complete. It's a fantastic way to present a sportive, and as close as you can get to a professional Tour experience. 

I had opted to ride in Group 3 (16-17mph average), rolling out with a lap of York's new closed circuit before getting on the roads proper. The groups went out slowest to quickest with half an hour between them, heading out east to the Wolds. A fairly flat 20 miles warmed us up nicely, and gave everyone a chance to bed in to the controlled peloton format and get to know each other, and our three domestiques who would be looking after us. 

The hills started just after, broken early on with a feed stop at Millington. A small but useful selection of food was on offer, my pick being the 9-bar items and (new to me) Huma gels, both handily gluten and wheat free meaning pretty much everyone could take them, and savoury biscuits. Water only for bottle top ups, but there were tubes of electrolyte tablets to add if you wanted. All of the feeds would have the same products, with the lunch stops adding filled rolls and cakes to the line-up. 

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Pub stop 

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Peloton 

Underway again, and the climbing legs were required as the countryside started to show itself off, despite the overcast conditions. Eventually the rain did move in, but as predicted the warm conditions and hills made it a bearable, if soggy affair. Lunch at Settrington gave everyone a chance to rest weary limbs and take on something more substantial, with a cup of Yorkshire tea to wash it down. 

The climbing relented slightly for a few short miles then reared up again as we approached the highlight climb of the day, Hanging Grimston. Fortunately for me, both todays and tomorrows climbs are highlighted in Simon Warren's '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs' and this gave me a chance to have a look at what was coming. I'm not too sure if that was actually a good thing or not, but I can say that it was pretty challenging, rough and steep in parts and reasonably long, but the group of NSPCC staff cheering us on part way up made you dig in that little bit deeper. 

Those that wanted could be timed to compete for the King / Queen of the Mountains jersey, but if I'm honest I was feeling a bit fatigued after a full season of riding, so elected to just get up it ahead of the competitive types with a few others. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. We paused to regroup at the top, happy in the knowledge that the climbing was as good as done for the day, and the pace picked up on the run back to York. There was a final feed at Buttercrambe along the way, and another lap of the circuit to finish. 

ToY5
Posh stop 

ToY6
Race? 

An optional extra for those that fancied a bit more punishment was a 30 minute road race on the circuit. I'm unsure of how many had signed up to it, but after our group had finished the rain had driven most of the other groups to shelter and sadly the decision was made not to go ahead with the race. Never mind, a short ride back got me to the blessed dryness of my room and a chance to dry out. 

With the bike dropped into the storage area, I took the chance to get a massage and made my way back for a short snooze before the dinner and presentations. I'm embarrassed to say that the short snooze became a rather lengthy one, and I unbelievably slept through until it was almost over. By all accounts it was a good evening though, with a three course meal, Barry Hoban as guest speaker and of course the awarding of the climbers jerseys to the mountain goats. 

ToY7
Barry Hoban presents a prize 


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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) 7 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 8 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) 10 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?) 9 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 87.8%