Tom's 100 Mile Great Shakespeare Ride

Wednesday 12 June 2019

100.5 miles, 8,000ft of climbing (MapMyRide said 6600ft but every cyclist knows it’s what your Garmin logs that counts!)

 

A tough day in the saddle by anyone’s standards, but if it was easy everyone would do it, right?

 

Having done the shorter distances in previous years, it was time to step up and take on the main event, and it did not disappoint on either the enjoyment or the challenge. On crossing the finish line, I knew I had completed one of the toughest rides I’d ever done but the feeling of satisfaction and the warm welcome upon my return made it all worthwhile.

 

The ride starts from easily the best starting location of any sportive I’ve ever done - Walton Hall. Classic English architecture and Warwickshire countryside at its best, everything from arrival to signing on and starting was a breeze which left plenty of time to get ready and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

 

I’ve cycled countless times in Wales, done sportives in the Peak District and New Forrest, ridden the Etape du Tour in the French Alps, and cycled from Exeter to Newcastle seeing most of England. Having done all this, I can confidently say the Cotswolds offers some of the most beautiful cycling I’ve ever done. It just doesn’t feel like any other part of the UK with its stone walls, chocolate box villages and views upon views - if you’ve never been then you’re missing out! (NOTE: I neither live in the Cotswolds nor work for their tourist board, but if the tourist board wants to pay me commission so that I can live their then please get in touch!)

The Great Shakespeare Ride route warms up gently rolling out of Walton Hall before entering the Cotswolds from the North, and leading you on a full tour of the Northern side of this area of outstanding beauty.

 

All the pleasure on the senses you get, from the smell of the lavender fields to the endless views over Winchcombe, do come at a price however - a cycling profile that looks like a shark’s teeth! Up and down, up and down - you are tested the entire route with sharp climbs, but then rewarded with epic photograph moments and exhilarating descents. You won’t find your long alpine-esque climbs on the Great Shakespeare Ride, but when it’s all said and done you’ll know about it in your legs, and have endless pictures for Instagram or Strava from a multitude of perfect viewpoints!

 

Anyone who regularly does sportives knows that they are not judged by their organisation, routes or the jersey you can get (to which the GSR does all three superbly) - no, they are judged on their food stops!

 

On the GSR you won’t find the kind of food stop where it’s all sponsored products with a big sign saying “One bar only per rider” (You know which events I’m on about!) What you will find is a spread fit for a King or Queen (of the mountain). Endless tables of sandwiches, cakes, snacks, fruit and drinks served by some of the nicest volunteers I’ve ever met. It can be all too easy with such a selection to over indulge, but you need not because all the food stops on the route are as equally well stocked - none of the sparse “limp home” final food stops you find on other events.

 

When out on the route cycling from food stop to food stop (eating cake is why most of us cycle right?), you’ll notice how well sign posted the event is. There are also numerous volunteers out on the course to guide you, offer assistance, and of course cheer you on when those legs begin to hurt!

 

It’s obvious that the organisers, as they should, value the safety of the participants as a top priority ensuring everyone navigates the route safely and with a big smile.

 

Once you do return and cross the finish line, you’re greeted by a chorus of cheers, a sea of friendly faces, a nice big chunky medal around your neck and a magnificent big lawn to crash out on and fill your face full of well-deserved treats!

 

The Great Shakespeare Ride is for a fantastic cause, one close to my heart, but I was already doing the events long before my family needed the help of the hospice because they are challenging and fun rides that are organised superbly and bring a smile to your face!

 

If you would like to join the 2019 Great Shakespeare Ride on 28th July 2019 - visit our website here www.thegreatshakespeareride.org.uk 

 

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