Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tour of Wessex in Sun Shine Shocker

The last time I rode the Tour Wessex was I think in 2008. After the first day the rain bucketed down and the climb to the top of Dunkery Beacon on the final day had to be cut due to the high winds. The collection of riders gathering for day 3 were a grim bunch.  Back in 2007 Day 2’s pouring rain and cold remains one a  club mates ‘worst day on a bike’. As a friend commented on my entry, ‘They order  rain for the ToW.’

Weather aside the event needs to be taken seriously. For those doing the whole three days it amounts to 335 miles of riding in beautiful but lumpy countryside, striking out from Somerton.

Anyway, we got rewarded with almost perfect cycling weather, and since my previous attempt the routes had been refined. Riding mostly in Surrey and Kent one of the first things that struck me was how much easier it is to find decent roads with little traffic in the West Country. Having ridden the Castle ride the previous weekend where most of the ride seemed to be on broken potholed tarmac, this made a nice change.

Compared to 5 years ago there were some noticeable changes. It felt like a younger crowd (maybe just because I have become an older git), and not only more women riders, but considerably stronger as well.

Pendragon Sports who run the event do have their eccentricities. Now there are plenty of things that appeal  60 miles into a sportive but a tuna and sweet corn roll, warmed by the sun is not near the top of my list, nor were the scotch eggs. I have to tip my hat to the guys from ‘Claud the Bulter’ who dished up wonderful coffee and recovery smoothies from their van at the finish.

The event HQ in Somerton was great given the weather but I would not have fancied it much if it had been tipping it down. There was an option to camp on site, but to be honest, fuck that for game of soldiers. So we stopped at the Travel Lodge in Podimore about 5 miles from the HQ. In a Ronseal kind of way Travel Lodge was brilliant. I am all for a nice family run guest house but the Travel Lodge ticked the boxes. Cheap, decent breakfast box ready to fuel for the day, no quibbles about bikes in the rooms, and come a go whenever. Job done.

High point- the decent to Corf Castle and the view from the top of the Lulworth Ranges

Low Point- Not doing final day – for wholly valid non cycling reasons- honest.