Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ride with Brad Sportive - Bradley Wiggins Foundation

Bradley Wiggins Foundation Sportive - "Ride with Brad"

Wiggo! Wiggo! Wiggo!  The crowds lining the climb of the Nick o' Pendle were chanting the name of the Tour de France yellow jersey as he raced up it during the Ride with Brad sportive today.  I happened to be about 100m from the crest of the climb and with about 20m to go I could hear the noise then Wiggo drew up alongside me with full Team Sky kit on.

I put my hand out in that Jan Ulrich/Lance Armstrong way and he gave me a quick greeting and asked me how I felt the ride was going. "It had been hard going and wet" came my reply. He agreed and after a short bit of small talk he whizzed off down the descent like the true pro he is.

I rode the 100km (62 mile) route today which saw us depart from Barnoldswick and go up the climbs of Barley Fell, Waddington Fell, Longridge Fell and the Nick o’ Pendle - total 6.2k of ascent.  By  usual sportive standards, this was a hard route profile. 

The longer 160km (100 mile) route boasted 10.2k of climbing, which is in Fred Whitton territory.  Having been off the bike for around four weeks and with a slouchy holiday behind me it was the right decision to take the shorter route.

Setting Off

I think the organisers - Pennine Events - would concede that the registration system didn't run particularly smoothly today.  I queued for an hour to get my rider number and you had to write your details on the back of your race number in longhand.  Thing is we'd already submitted all this information via the on-line pre-registration system , so it meant the processing time per entrant wasn't particularly quick and therefore long delays ensued.

Resultantly, departing was pretty easy as lots of people were tied up in the queues and we were set off by the starter within a minute of turning up to the line.

Up We Go

It was an easy first 10km of undulating road, followed by a drag around the 10km mark. 

The first big climb came in around 30km into the ride, a really long drag.  This hill was all about steady cadence, being the first major climb of the day everyone's legs were fresh and it was all about grinding out the drag.  There was a terrific descent in reward, where I hit 43mph, and the next 10k was steady until we hit the 45km mark and went up another short and sharp drag.

The back half of the route was a lot harder than the front in my view, particularly the last 25km which was just relentless sharp climbs.  You can see from the profile that the last section is particlarly punishing, not helped by the driving rain which had arrived.  It all started to hot up around the 55km mark (3rd climb on the chart) which gave you a taster of what was to come.

Reviewing my heart rate below, you can see that the big climbs were pushing me right to my maximum at times, indicating the steepness and need to just keep going. 

Average Heart Rate of 148bpm - Max 180bpm

Lots of people walked the climbs today and I was pleased to stay in the saddle for the whole event, albeit at times the climbs were so steep that I was out the saddle just managing to turn the pedals, a few people simply fell over.  My aerobic engine was good and leg strength was good too following the work I'd been doing at the gym, so if I can shift a bit of weight I should ascend quicker.

The route scenery was stunning, taking you through beautiful countryside and the traffic levels were relatively low.  Hundreds lined the route giving encouragement to the riders whilst waiting for Wiggo to ride through, special mention to village of Whalley who had come out in force.

On arriving back at the event village, you were issued with a ticket for a meal and a bag of goodies including a "Ride with Brad" Adidas T-Shirt, which was nice.  There were exhibitors there and a number of different family things to get kids engaged with bikes, which was good to see.

Arriving back at the car I was wet to the core, the initial sunny start where I thought I might be over-dressed, turned one hundred and eighty degrees and gave us a good drubbing for our money.  A reminder that you need to take appropriate layered clothing when riding in this part of the world.

Overall Conclusion

If they sort the registration system out, then this will definitely be one of the must do sportives of the year.  The stunning, yet technically challenging route, will really test you're ability to climb. The big bonus is seeing Bradley out on the road, mixing with his fans and being appreciated by the people of the region.

Practical Things

Depart time 08.30- 0 9.30am
Entry fee - £40.00
Routes - 100km/160km
Feed Stops - Two on the 100km route, Gatorade energy drink plus CNP gels and bars widely available.
Event Parking - Free

Improvements I would suggest for Next Year
  • Better event registration
  • Better signage from the remote car parks to the event start


  1. I thought I saw you in the bunch today (or at least the Brother shirt). Anyway, I would agree with all that you wrote. A very tough ride for only 100 km, too tough for many I suspect, weather was cruel, start was a bit frustrating, weather spoilt the spectacle. Glad I did it but would think long and hard before next year. Route became a little "Off-road" for the numbers involved and there were too many near-misses for comfort. Glad we didn't opt for the 160 km madness.

  2. I registered the day before and just picked up my jersey & bike numbers and went. The queues did look bad in the morning. Did they make you fill out the back in front of them or something, holding the queue up? I thought it was harder than it should have been to find water at the start, but I successfully raided the IG Index tent in the end.

  3. Good post Phil and a pretty fair summary of the event. I registered on Saturday which meant I could just turn up and ride, setting off at 7:10 in the first wave for the 160km route. Enjoyed the route although as you say the 2nd half was the tougher, especially from Longridge Fell onwards. Glad I took my new Pearl Izumi waterproof jacket in my back pocket as the rain from 70 miles onwards became torrential. Best climb for me was the road up Longridge Fell, straight and steep to begin and then along the face of the fell to the summit, amazing feeling being cheered along by spectators. Definitely up for it again next year.