Regular readers of this blog (both of you) will know that I’m quite critical of sportives, generally preferring audaxes because of the value for money you simply do not get from sportives.
Well today I rode the Polocini Winter Sprinter. Let me first discuss value for money. The ride cost £20 to enter. When I arrived at the HQ I was given a cup of quality (not instant) coffee and a very large portion of porridge. With my registration I also received a bag containing 2 CNP high protein oat bars, a CNP cereal bar, 2 CNP normal gels and a CNP caffeine gel. Then I was handed a water bottle (I refuse to call them bidons – I’m not French!) containing CNP energy drink. At the feed station I had a coffee and a yoghurt coated flapjack. I could have had more. After the ride I was handed a CNP recovery shake and I had very nice black pudding sausage and mash. There was also a sports therapist on hand for those that wanted a free massage. The added bonus was that the porridge and the sausage and mash were very, very tasty. So all in all I think you’d be tight as a gnats chuff if you thought that lot wasn’t excellent value for money, so a big tick for that.
Onto organisation. North Cheshire Clarion (and a few other clubs) had a lot of riders present. A really simple but clever idea was that all the NCC registrations had been put into one box. I simply took the box and dished all the goodies out to our riders. Not only did that mean we didn’t have to queue – it meant that we weren’t in the queue holding everyone else up.
We had our photo taken by Rick Robson – another freebie as biggest club present – and then we were off. The weather was stinking, with heavy and icy cold rain. No mudguards on my bike meant my back was soon very wet. No mudguards on most riders bikes meant my front was soon very wet. The route was a nice roll through the Cheshire lanes, many of which are familiar from our club runs. In the sunshine it would have been superb. In the wet it was a bit less so! Covered in mud and with waterproof gear failing at various points, by 40 miles I was completely soaked and the temperature was in the low single figures so I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes. We’d set off at a fair tilt and I was only kept company by Ste from the club. Our average speed gradually got slower and slower – perhaps dragged down by the increasingly heavy and damp clothing, as well as heavy legs. We avoided Swiss Hill as trying to ascend that in the wet would have been very difficult. My one gripe about the day was the “sportive riders” issue which, to be fair, you get everywhere. Too many unable to hold a line, or keep a steady pace up, and doing daft things like riding no-handed in a 20mph bunch whilst trying to open a gel.
The route also threw most of the climbing in at the end, which made cold and damp legs suffer with cramp. Arriving back at the HQ we were greeted with recovery shakes and hot bangers and mash, and a warm village hall.
So in summary, a really well organised day offering great value for money. Highly recommended and I look forward to the next event.
Ride stats : 61.8 miles in 3hrs 32m @ 17.4mph. 1,957ft ascent, average HR 161bpm, 3,444kcals used