Wiggle No Excuses Sportive

Report by Shu Pillinger

Epic Distance 80 Miles - Huntingdon and the surrounding countryside

The selling point behind this early season cyclosportive sponsored by the ubiquitous online retailer is that it's free. You pay up front but if you complete the event you are refunded. This made for a starting field of nearly 900, split across two distances - the Standard 45 miles and the Epic 80 miles. The terrain is mostly flat, but exposed a lot of the time, with some rolling hills to keep the legs warm. A not particularly nice hill greets you in the last few miles, which the Wiggle team adorned with those kind of helpful messages such as "Pain is temporary..." that are the last thing you want to read when you're starting to will the end of the route. The route signage itself is spot on and the 2 feed stations well stocked.

Since it's a sportive (not a race) the usual assignment of banded finishing times applied (for the 80 mile route: Gold < 05:03, Silver < 05:34 and Bronze anything over). I'd set myself a target of Gold and top 10 women to compete with my little brother who was 10th last year. In order to know my placing, I had to start at the front and watch out for any women overtaking me - that way anyone who had a faster time, but finished before me could be discounted (some people change from the Epic to Standard at the route split, but their super fast times are still registered against the Epic). I started fast and was soon cycling solo with the open road ahead of me. I managed to latch onto the back of three fast men's groups for about 15 miles but did my usual trick of being dropped at turns (in part due to my hesitance, after falling off my bike a couple of weeks ago on a gravelly corner). My turns at the front were tough! So for the most, I rode alone and battled with the wind and rain for what seemed an eternity along some exposed stretches of lanes banking open farmland. For more experienced group riders however, this ride offers the chance to get up some good speed together and I recommend it to the club in future. Other clubs were present in large numbers.

No women passed me until a fast peloton overtook at mile 79, being led by 2 girls! I was gutted. In the end the weather wore me down, but I came into the finish at 82 miles (not 80) in 04:46, clinching 5th female place.