Well what a whirl wind that was; in all honesty I would do it over and over again. It’s the little things that go a long way in making an event stand out from the rest, and The Mitie Revolution went beyond expectation from beginning to end on all accounts!
My journey to the start point was a little more eventful than had predicted and in getting quite lost on the small lanes between my house and the Athletics centre I Lee Valley, I managed to add another 10 miles onto my route. I wasn’t concerned about this at all however as once I arrived the friendly buzz of the atmosphere at the start point had me eager to start the day ahead.
I started out with signing in and collecting my rider number and associated timing chip. All relatively straight forward, I attached the chip to my helmet and the number to my bike, then with a quick check over from the Halfords team who were supporting the event throughout I was ready to go.
The queue for setting of was quite substantial by the time I joined it; that would be that extra 10 miles I did to get there, but I used this to my advantage chatting to those around me and even asking some poor sole to hold my bike whilst I nipped to the loo. Then before I knew it we were off …..
In all my eagerness I raced ahead, jumping one group to another as I did. I had made friends with a chap along the way who was now riding alongside me and continued to do so even as the signs seemed to disappear and the streets became smaller. Looking back we realised we were now riding alone and neither of us were quite sure just how long it had been since we saw the last cyclist.
About turn and back we went in search of the route we had so eagerly left. Before long a workman in is white van put us back on track and pointed the way that ‘a bunch of other cyclists’ had gone; what a nice chap!
Back on track and jumping the same groups we had before we were on our merry way once again. The departure from the city was very stop start but did offer the opportunity to pass some very iconic locations, such as London Bridge, and have a chat with fellow cyclists along the way.
This continuous battle with red traffic lights did offer a sense of comradary in the aim to get past them and the perfect opportunity to chat and get to know a little more about those I was riding with at each stop. That said, the open road came with a sigh of relief and a definite increase in pace.
Not only was the route beautiful but it was well sign posted and so apart from that one incident near the start, it was very easy to follow. I cycled most of the way to the first feed station with my new Dr friend, the Budgie Smuggler. Graham I believe his name is but I preferred the Budgie smuggler as this was written on his jersey and so became his name long before we got chatting.
The feed station was awesome and set a benchmark for things to come. We were warmly welcomed into a large open area with tonnes of lush grass to sit and relax on. The Halfords chaps were already there, set up and helping a number of riders alleviate any niggles they had picked up en-route. The queue for the snacks was not too long and moved quickly.
What’s more we were asked to remove our gloves and offered hand sanitiser whilst waiting; as I said it is the little touches that count in making the ogranisation of a sportive stand out from the rest and the Mitie revolution had thought of everything.
The snacks themselves were delicious; from posh popcorn to Natures Path cereal bars, there was something there for everyone. Some participants did suggests that it would be nice to have the option of a sandwich at the first feed station as it may take a few people longer to get there in which case it would be nearing lunchtime.
I understand their point, and for someone who lives on ham sandwiches throughout any ride of a fair distance I would not have complained if there were sandwiches at the first station, but having overheard that they were available at the second feed station I just had even more incentive to get there. Suddenly my average speed picked up, I cant for a second imagine why …..
Leaving the first feed station I met up with a lady who’s name escapes me and ‘Beardy’, who I believe was christened Paul, but as with the others I had met, I rather liked my new nick-name for him, and so did he, which was fortunate!
Doubling straight back onto an almighty head-wind, the three of us chose to work together in a chain gang format of sorts. This worked particularly well on the flats but not so well on the hills, and sadly I managed to accidently drop them both after a few miles. Once again on my own, I found a steady pace and exchanged a few brief words about the event and the beautiful countryside we were riding through with the different participants I met along the way.
Gliding through the beautiful countryside at a nice pace we were flagged down on a left hand turn and asked to dismount as there had been an accident on the steep descent ahead.
Quite disgruntled with the prospect of ruining our cleats and slipping down this particularly steep hill, we were actually all very impressed with how the accident was handled and how quickly the organisers responded for the safety of those involved and the rest of the cyclists to follow.
Once passed both the air and land ambulances that had already arrived to assist, we were thanked for our consideration and allowed to continue back en-route.
Once at the second feed station I parked my bike in the stands provided and headed straight for the sandwiches! Then with a generous stock of delicious food and coffee I found a nice place to relax in the sunshine. I hadn’t been there for long and low and behold who walks past; if it wasn’t my mate beardy!
Pleased to see him, we sat enjoying the weather and the atmosphere for quite some time. We were enjoying the day so much we were in no rush to finish, and so, eventually, having taken in enough sunshine and chatter, we made our way to the first substantial climb of the day.
Team Cake, aka Irene and Graham, also joined us along that first climb, having toyed with me a little previously, jostling for first position somewhere between the first and the second feed station.
The route remained as glorious and picturesque as ever. At about 10Km from the finish, my thoughts gave way to the packet of Jelly Tots in my back pocket. The associated sugar high was clearly reflected in my pace, so much so that once we had arrived, Graham thanked me for towing him into the camp site.
Quite oblivious to the fact, but happy to have helped, we made our way to the massage tent where we were warmly welcomed by members of staff who advised us on stretching and such before giving us a massage and applying Rock tape to alleviate any aches and pains we may have picked up along the way.
The facilities at Ascot were exceptional! As expected the tents had been set up ready for our arrival and our bags were waiting alongside. We were also provided with inflatable mattresses to make the night a little more comfortable.
Once showered I made my way to the dining hall which was quite a grandeur affair given that I was in scruffy jeans and a hoody following a days riding. We were provided with a selection of delicious meals and deserts at big tables where we could further mingle and hear about everyone’s day.
My worries about feeling quite alone once at Ascot were immediately laid to rest as there were so many friendly people and so much to see and participate in, from the chill out area to snack stands, even catching up with the Dulux Dog who had been brought along as the sponsors mascot and seemed to be quite enjoying the fuss and attention!
Happy, tired and quite full, I headed to my tent somewhat excited about the day ahead.