Over the past week or so I have taken part in 3 events which I had not tried before. Two of them were a success!
First up was the Tour de Broads – a 70 mile cycle sportive around the broads (broads are lakes in Norfolk!). My friend, Sally was doing it with her club, Sandringham and West Norfolk Cyclists so it seemed a good opportunity to have a day out cycling with them.
The first 40 miles were pleasant enough – scenic route, good company and the weather was dry and relatively warm. We’d had a bit of a wait to start – mostly due to one of Sally’s club members not turning up on time, but also the actual start of the event was delayed so everyone set off somewhat later than anticipated. After 40 miles the route crosses the river via the Reedham Ferry. This is a quaint little contraption which I have crossed on many times before. Here it is:
As you can see it’s not very big. It’ll take a couple of cars or about 20 or so bikes. There were apparently 1500 riders on this Sportive! Now you don’t need a calculator really to see that this was not going to work. When we arrived at the ferry we were met with a queue, a very very long queue.
People were turning around and cycling back the way we had come, saying the wait would be about 2 hours. It was! 2 hours standing in a queue for a ferry in the middle of a ride. It is not what you want – you get cold, your legs seize up and it makes the day too long. I knew the way home, so after half an hour or so I abandoned my friends and headed back to Norwich. By the time my friends had got across the river they had lost enthusiasm for the ride and to top it all, when they finally got to the finish, the organisers had run out of medals. It was all a bit of a shambles and it wasn’t as if we saw any broads really anyway. I think from now on I will be sticking to club rides and will take a break from sportives. I have been feeling a bit “over” them since the Boudicca ride back in May when they ran out of food at the 85 mile mark. Why pay money when you can ride the same roads for free?
The next event was the East Anglian Air Ambulance Runway Run. Despite the fact that this was moved at the last minute to a new venue (due to nesting birds on the original site I believe), this was a lovely friendly little event that was well organised and involved no queuing. I did the 5k (there was also a 10k option which was just 2 laps instead of 1). It was a tough course – varied terrain and a bit windy – but I enjoyed it. And the goodie bag was superb – a running vest, a medal, a notebook, crayon stick, pen, and a toy helicopter!! And the event was all for a good cause too. Plus I got the Norwich Road Runners Club 5k bronze standard time that I had been after – so that’s another one of those in the bag – just the half-marathon and 20 mile times to get.
Then later that day I did the third event. This was an evening ride organised by the guys from the Dandy Horse Cafe on Magdalen Street. It was a social ride – started with a coffee, then 40 miles riding and finished with a beer at The Plasterers Arms pub – a very fine beer it was too. It was good to have the opportunity to cycle in the evening for a change. I won’t be going out with them on a regular basis as I enjoy my VCN Sunday morning Club rides but on those days when I can’t make it out in the morning it is good to have the option of an evening ride. It was very different to a VCN ride – we were a bit of a motley crew, some of us in full lycra, but others in more everyday clothing with no concession to aerodynamics or sweat-wicking at all. The advertised pace was 16-18mph which was roughly what we did, but we rode in a slightly erratic fashion, speeding up and slowing down at random and spreading ourselves along the road in quite a straggle. But they were a friendly and welcoming bunch and were supportive of everyone there, regrouping when necessary when people fell behind and one member even rode back to the city with a guy who was struggling to keep up on his single speed, rather than let him hold the rest of us back or have him collapse in a heap at the roadside. It was fun!