Where: Woking, Surrey
When: March 22, 2009
Distance: 24-145km (15-90 miles)
A great deal of time and money has been invested by Evans Cycles to create a series of events that, while promoting its brand image, nonetheless offers serious value for money. To be able to turn up, select from the Gore range of clothing, ride the event then hand back the dirty laundry — free of charge — is just one of the initiatives on offer.
To test ride a top road bike for the day costs £25, and should you be unlucky enough to have a mechanical anywhere en route there’s a free pick-up service. Everything on these sportives is designed to encourage people from kids to oldies out onto two wheels.
The Woking weekend saw the start of a packed schedule of two-day Ride It events in 2009. They will take place throughout the country from now until the end of October. All the events will follow the same format, with Saturday for off-roaders and Sunday for those who enjoy the tarmac.
Sunday’s venue at Woking was split into four distances, ranging from 15 to 90 miles, all enjoying the same roads, with a drinks station denoting the ride splits. Both the short and fun route had minimal climbing, and had been designed to cater for families and recreational cyclists.
On the whole, the roads were relatively safe, but being Mothering Sunday traffic did pick up around lunchtime. The medium and long routes tackled the climbs and rougher-surfaced road sections, but enjoyed quieter, more scenic roads. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny with enough breeze to keep cool.
Turnout was perhaps on the low side, with 172 entrants for the Sunday event and 319 for Saturday, but if you take the numbers for an entire year’s Ride Its, then the figure runs into the thousands.
Certainly the formula seems to be working, because Dean Stacey heads up a seven-strong team that travels around the country with the sole task of organising Ride It.
Each event is given a Climb Rating — Woking being the least steep, with a lowly score of one. This gives you some idea of the terrain, but there’s more to a ride than hills, and Sunday was a perfect example.
Evans Ride It 2009: Remaining rides
May 30-31, Brighton
June 13-14, Stokenchurch, The Chilterns
June 27-28, Peak District
July 4-5, Gatwick
July 18-19, Thirsk, North York Moors
August 1-2, West London
August 15-16, Cotswolds
August 22-23, Dorking
September 5-6, West Yorkshire
September 19-20, Liphook, Hampshire
September 26-27, Lake District
October 10-11, Nottingham
October 24-25, Cliddesden, Hampshire