bikebritain News June 13, 2014

'Kilotogo' Essex Explorer Sportive

8th June 2014 – Long Course, 161 km

Following hard on the heels of the Wiggle Bournemouth ride, last weekend Lukey and I signed up to the ‘kilotogo’ (KTG) Essex Explorer sportive. The course was partially staged round some of the roads being used during the 3rd leg of the Tour de France. This would be my first KTG event and Lukey’s first organised sportive. In order to provide a more rounded review of the experience, both of us are going to provide some commentary on how the day went...

Arriving at the start line

bikebritain says

“After a rendezvous at Shenfield railway station we made our way towards Fyfield Recreation Centre. We parked up in a residential street where upon I did a half ‘Westmoorland’[1] to the horror of anyone watching. As luck would have it we were only a few minutes ride from the KTG ‘nerve centre’. Much had been made of receiving our ‘race’ pack before the event – however in reality this did not occur. Despite leaving 5 working days between our on line entrance and ride day, the Royal Mail was deemed too unreliable to warrant using. Consequently we both stood in line and picked up our race packs much like any other registration process.

The event venue was fit for purpose despite being told not to attempt to park there due to space limitation. Sure enough the start did occur at 09.00. Riders were released in groups of 20 or so serenaded by the KTG ‘MC’ who was in real danger of repeating herself at least 20 times that morning. It was acquired listening. From a facilities stand point there were plenty of toilets to hand, a pop up shop and a Pinarello stand which I stayed well clear of for fear of a very spontaneous purchase. Mastercard were subsequently somewhat disappointed. I guessed about 800 riders were present.

Like good soldiers we lined up and at about 09.20 we finally got underway. There was nothing to be gained from sending the starter packs out earlier from what I could tell.”

Lukey says

“I was wide-eyed at the prospect of my first sportive and I soon wished I wasn’t after Jonathan immediately revealed that he needed to completely undress in the street, but once he’d de-robed and re-robed, we were in business. As noted above, KTG demonstrated an admirable lack of faith in the newly-privatised Royal Mail, and I was fully prepared for some sort of fiasco, but instead my pack was collected with minimum fuss from a helpful young chap, and I was numbered and chipped up in a matter of minutes. My inner-curmudgeon refused to engage with the full-time bantersmith in charge of the mic at the start line, but I guess some people might have liked shouting out that they were, indeed, ready and suchlike. I just hope I never have to spend any serious time with them. We were underway in no time and I was (quietly) impressed by how it looked like a free-for-all but was actually quite good.”

The First 39km and Food Stop 1

bikebritain says

“Having ridden north of 160 km with Lukey a few weeks ago, I had a feeling this would be a more satisfying ride. I figured Lukey, no longer a 160 km virgin, would be in better mental shape for the distance second time around. The course was also flatter and I reckoned we would comfortably average 20 km an hour. In actual fact we completed the first 39 km in just over 80 minutes, so on the basis of this it was going to be much faster than the rough cut 8 hours I had allowed. Lukey was moving nicely and I was being pleasantly surprised by the Essex countryside. It was, however, undulating and not flat as it seemed everyone else had been led to believe.”

Lukey says

“You might, and should, laugh, but I was feeling good at this point and basically charged round emptying my bladder and filling my stomach as fast as I could without giving myself indigestion or causing a scene so that we could get going again as soon as possible. The grub and liquids were plentiful and easily accessible and I shoved down some cake bar, energy bar and my first orange segments since I was a horribly incompetent teenage footballer. I tried to spot people who looked like they might be struggling to cheer myself up, but then remembered they were probably doing the short route and were therefore over halfway.”

Food Stop 2

bikebritain says

“Sure enough we had made good progress up to the first stop. However the mileage wouldn’t start to bite for a while yet. This route had the potential to be a sub 5 hours 50 minute ride. There was plenty of flat and the hills were small enough that if you were really aggressive you could ride ‘at and over’ them without the need to gear down. What made the route more enjoyable was the almost complete lack of cars on the road. We were being taken down some very ‘local’ lanes but it made for fun cycling. In general the road surfaces were pretty good – another symptom of the TdF coming to town. We were maintaining a steady 25 km and Lukey seemed confident that this pace could be sustained for the duration. Up until the course split from the medium to the long distance route, there were still a number of cyclists within visual range of each other. This changed after we went left and most other people went right.

I think there’s a little psychology involved when you make that left turn and commit to ‘the long route’. We were now going to do 160 km and for me it would be the second time in three days. I wondered how the legs would be in 3 hours time….

The second stop came just over half way. We remained in good spirits and waded our way through a mixture of chocolate and sports bars that had been thoughtfully provided. We had gone through 80 km in 3 hrs 1 minute so with some pace deterioration I calculated we would finish by the 6 hours 30 minute mark. “

Lukey says

“As Jonathan notes, it was quiet and relatively easy going, and at the second food stop, a quaint village hall operation, I was utterly baffled at the amount of people complaining about how ‘not flat’ it was compared to their expectations. Going cycling in Majorca is a wonderful privilege anyway, but now with an unexpected bonus of allowing me to feel slightly superior to people who would normally intimidate me out of sight. There were some proper histrionics on show as people theatrically threw themselves, and their bikes, to the ground upon arrival. I tried to play it cool, but probably had about four too many cake bars on the go at the same time for that to have worked.”

The final rest and 26km to go

bikebritain says

“The second half of the ride was more challenging than the first. It was more hilly; not in a South Downs sense but in an undulating Essex way. We were effectively doing an elongated figure of eight which was taking us From Chelmsford and Finchingham (Southern/Northern points) and Braintree to Bishops Stortford and Harlow (Eastern/Western points).  We rode through some villages such as Rayne and Felsted, heading south, back towards the M25. Tall hedgerow continued to line our path which put paid to the suggestion that you could see the London city skyline from this route. Maybe you could, but I reckoned you needed to use plenty of imagination to do so. As the hills came and went our pace slowed a little. We continued to make solid progress, but the final feed stop came just at the right time. Replenished with jaffa bars and yet more High 5, we focussed on riding through that remaining 26 km or so. It seemed that a number of riders were using this event to test themselves at the distance. We saw one guy who was in some distress lying on the floor due to a knee injury and heard of another who was waiting for assistance somewhere on the course. Fortunately we managed to avoid these complications and continued Fyfield bound, injury free.”

Lukey says

“The final stop was so late on the route that we were starting to think it didn’t exist. Too late for a couple of riders, one chap that had ridden with us for a while was mildly apoplectic that it wasn’t where he thought it was and so just stopped where he thought it should be, and one man had climbed off utterly exhausted. Then there was one chap who, as we passed, asked how long it was to the feed station. We cheerily estimated that it was about 3km, to which he passively/aggressively replied “thanks anyway”, as if the only acceptable answer was “just round the corner, I’ll be back in a second towing the table of cake bars for you”. Jonathan and I got into a heated discussion about the Fens and I think we told one gent he had to go and live in Denmark or something.”

Finish Line

bikebritain says

“With a sweat-on from pushing for home during the last 3 km or so, I crossed the line waving nonchalantly on the basis that we were being filmed (although I didn’t see any evidence of this at the time). I racked my bike up and by the time I had finished faffing about Lukey had also crossed the line. Despite the Hog Roast doing its best to entice us, we managed to steer clear. I felt pretty good, significantly better than I had done at the same point 48 hours earlier. Third 160km plus ride of 2014. I was on course for a decent mileage total this month.”

Lukey says

“Jonathan dropped me about 158km later than he could have done, and approximately twenty minutes after saying he would do no such thing, so I rolled in a few minutes after him. Knackered but, thanks to the friendly camber, not delirious. I forgot that I was being filmed coming in, but didn’t do anything silly like swear or fall off. I was very pleased with my effort, and it was a lot tidier an affair than my other 160km ride.”

Overall Comments

bikebritain says

“I would definitely ride it again and deliberately target this event for a fast 160km time. I liked the riding on these country roads and it showed me how pretty some of the small villages are in Essex. From an events organisation perspective there is not much to choose between KTG and ukcyclingevents – both are highly competent, but the road signage at this event could have been better in places. For the first time ever I think I will use all the contents of the freebies provided at the end.”

Lukey says

“I was very impressed with everything, from the organisation to the other competitors and the atmosphere, the route and the refreshments. I’d imagined something altogether a lot less inclusive, but I didn’t feel out of place and that was quite important for somebody who was definitely out of place. I’ve got no frame of reference, but I would find it hard to imagine much that could’ve been better for a first timer like me. 6hrs 53 total time and 124th place on the longest route don’t sound like much, but I’ve been yelling them at anyone who’ll listen all week.”

KTG Event Scores

Category

‘Essex Explorer’ (bikebritain scores)

‘Essex Explorer’ (Lukey scores)

Website info

9

8

Event venue (Car Parking, Toilets)

7

7

Sign in process

8

9

Event road signage (Directions and Warnings)

8

8

Route quality (Difficulty, Interest, Choices)

9

9

Food quality at rest

8

8

Ride Support (Mechanic Availability, Sag Waggon, Outriders)

8

7

Event Product Testing

8

7

Freebies

10

10

Timing Post Event (accuracy)

8

9

Participant Friendliness

9

8

Ride-It-Again-Ability

10

10

Overall Value for Money

9

9

Total

85.3%

83.8%

 

Words – Lukey and bikebritain Ltd

Thumbnail image - bikebritain Ltd

Slider image – Sportive Photography Ltd

For more information on KTG sportives go to www.kilotogo.com

 

 

[1] The term ‘Westmoorland’ was coined during Cycle Oregon 2011 when a man called ‘Westmoorland’ decided to proudly bare all whilst changing into lycra in broad daylight, in a busy campsite. At that moment a hero was born. 

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