First Sportive of the season is out the way. The Polocini Winter Sprinter is a nice little run of sixty miles to ease you into the season. It gives you that lovely "aren't I riding fast" moment for the first 35 miles, then hands you a big dose of reality as you hit a lumpy back 25.
Taking in the legendary cobbled Swiss Hill just outside of Alderley Edge (see video), which features in the "Best 100 climbs of the UK," the sixty mile route whizzed us in a figure of eight loop heading west of Woodford and then looped back to the East, heading to Pot Shrigley and a few choice hills.
The front 35 miles our averge speeed was around 18mph and weather conditions were pretty good, not too cold, no rain and low wind. Back 25 miles, saw our overall averages come down and - by the end of the ride - we'd finished on 15.8mph over the 60 mile circuit. Not bad for the season opener. Ascent total was around 1700 feet all in, nearly all of which comes in the back 25.
Having not ridden a Polocini event before, here's my summary of what was on offer: -
- Pre-Ride. Good pre-ride briefing info. Course map prepared and available as a Garmin download. Queries answered on Twitter or via e-mail very quickly. Entry cost £20.00.
- On arrival. Registration was pretty painless to get your timing chip which you wore around your neck. Your rider number with your name on was all pre-printed and ready. You manually swiped it at the key timing points. Everyone on the team was friendly. Ample parking. Mechanic around to sort any last minute niggles.
- Food before departure. Queue for about 15 mins to get a big bowl of Porridge and a cup of tea. Provided free within the price.
- Gels, drinks and bars. All included in the price and supplied by CNP. You got issued with three tickets for the various feedstations, which you exchanged for what you wanted. They were all well stocked and had some good variety. Gels, Bars, Flapjacks, Bananas, Mini Cheddars. You could pretty much knock down anything you wanted and put a couple in your pockets for good measure.
- Signposting. They had some problems on the day of signposts being removed on purpose to disrupt the event. This led to parts of the ride not being adequately signposted. I had the route in the Garmin, so was OK. If you didn't, you'd be frustrated. Not the organisers fault that vandals removed the signs.
- Toilets. None provided on the route, you had to seek out a public toilet or go natural. OK for us blokes (going natural), but not so ideal for the ladies.
- On finish. Pasta with Goulash or Meatballs. Recovery shake. More gels/bars. As you hand your timing chip in, you get an immediate print out confirmation of your time, which is neat.
- Exhibitors. There were some good exhibitors knocking about inclucing Total Cycle Coach, Shutt Velo Rapide and others.
- In conclusion. A very good value for money Sportive, given that all your food and drink was included aswell as a drinks bottle. Decent route, nice folk behind the scenes and not too many riders (max. 300). Would recommend.