A run down of events by Martin Handley:
We set off for Wooler with some trepidation due to the awful weather forecast but it wasn’t until we were about half an hour south of the town that we encountered low cloud and rain. However when we arrived it was obvious the rain had been falling for some time as there was a lot of surface water and a small lake was beginning to form at the start site (which you had to wade through to get to the porta cabin toilets). I was half hoping that someone would steal my bike whilst we were registering but sadly it was still there when we got back so we had a coffee and got underway.
The course was a tour of the border region to the north of Wooler along mainly quiet country roads through undulating countryside that I’m sure would have been beautiful under normal conditions.
There were a lot flooded sections where you just had to hope that you wouldn’t hit something under the surface of the water. Apart from a few muddy patches it was not too treacherous although someone did hit a stone bridge on a corner and sadly it looked like it was going to be the end of their day. I am really useless at climbing but I managed all the hills without walking or stopping which I think indicates that they were not that hard rather than me having good form.
This was my first sportive so I can’t compare it with others but assume that the conditions were responsible for most people riding on their own or in small groups (most bikes, including mine, didn’t have mud guards so it was no fun sitting on someone’s wheel). The organisation was great, there were loads of cheerful marshals, four water/feed stations that were largely under used as most riders just wanted to get on with it and not stop to get cold. They jet washed your bike afterwards which was very useful as near the end some farmyard slurry had spilled out all over the road. And they provided some excellent hot pies to help recovery. Mat’s organisation was not so great , despite the forecast he arrived in a short sleeve jersey, shorts and brought no dry clothes to put on afterwards, but he still managed much better than me despite my expensive new Rapha rain jacket.
Now a day on, I think I am getting a cold, I am still getting grit out of my eyes and my shoes have not dried out yet but it was still a great day out.