Thursday, 20 December 2012

Performance Cycles Winter Mini Series - November & December Events

Hi and thanks for visiting the Pixies blog, this post is just a quick update on some recent Sportive action that I have been taking part in that was organised by the very nice people at Performance Cycles based in Poulton, just north of Cirencester.

The guys at Performance Cycles organise a series of events that run over the course of the winter that are billed as the "Performance Cycles Winter Mini Sportive Series"

Find out more and enter the Winter Mini Sportive Series here

The events  are in the words of the organisers "designed to be simple, and cheap!! There will be no electronic timing or feed stations, and the routes won't be the gut busting ones you'd expect in the height of summer - but other than that, they'll be everything else you expect from a sportive. With a well marked route, mechanical back-up, free energy products for each rider and much more."

Having done the two most recent events in this years series I can say that the formula works really well. For most people the only things that are not present on these events that are available on bigger events are the feed stations and to be honest, a bit of forward planning on the part of the rider easily sorts that one out. I always take a packet of jelly babies and some bite size flap jacks on every event and that coupled with a couple of 750ml Bidons of drink has been plenty enough to feed and water me on each event. If you forget to pack supplies, you can always buy some from the Performance Cycles shop before the start as it is open for business before the start of each event.

What about the routes?

November's 60 mile route was made all the more interesting by the localised flooding that occurred in the few days leading up to the event. In some places we were riding through water that was over the bottom bracket and definitely coming in through the vents in the soles of my shoes.

Scenes like this were encountered on a number of occasions
The route in November was not to taxing in respect of hills although whoever designed the course did throw in a couple of "interesting" climbs along the way, one of which had people weaving up the hill in an attempt to make it easier to climb. I logged a total of 2638ft of climbing on the route, which on a wet and cold day was actually plenty enough for a Pixie that was feeling the cold. The wet weather certainly had an effect on the number of punctures suffered by competitors and I saw a higher than normal number of people changing inner tubes by the side of the road. Like most Sportive riders I always check to see if somebody who is by the side of the road needs any assistance, normally most people are ok and wave me on, on this event however a couple of people needed the assistance of my mini pump having used up their CO2 canisters on previous punctures. This is why I live with the tiny amount of extra weight that carrying a small mini pump involves, no amount of spare tubes are going to be of any use if you can't pump them up! ;)

November Route Profile 10.2 % in one place

Overall the route in November was a perfect blend of enough hills to get the legs and lungs working and some decent stretches where it was possible to ride as a group and maintain a reasonable average speed. My time for the event wasn't anything to shout about at 4 hours 21 minutes, but I estimate that I probably lost around 30 minutes helping other people out with punctures, so not so bad after all.

For the December event I was riding with Dave "the puncture king" (who regular readers will have met in the Isle of Wight blog post which can be found here ) and we set out with every intention of riding the long route which would have been around 60 miles. Despite heavy rain overnight, it was actually a really nice sunny, but cold, morning and all competitors seemed to be in really good spirits. Although the sun was out, the previous few days rain had left the roads very wet and littered with muck and debris.

There was still a lot of water on the ground after heavy rainfall

As any cyclist who has more than five minutes experience will know, country lanes and heavy rain equal punctures due to the amount of rubbish that is washed out of hedges and fields and into the road, it was for this reason that I was riding along feeling very pleased with myself for having fitted new Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons winter tyres a couple of months earlier (they have multiple layers of puncture protection and still ride really well without feeling heavy or wooden)

As with Novembers event, the atmosphere was excellent and their was plenty of conversation in the "peleton" as it made it's way around the course. Their was a good mix of abilities and bikes present, with some obviously very quick riders out on their winter bikes and some other riders out on their mountain bikes and just enjoying the ride. The course was less demanding than Novembers course and had significant stretches of relatively flat going which allowed for a good average speed to be maintained over the early parts of the course. Regular readers may remember that Dave was a bit puncture prone on the IOW and unfortunately Dave suffered another puncture on this event, which probably lost us around 20 minutes whilst Dave changed his inner tube. An examination of Dave's tyres revealed why he may have been suffering with a plague of punctures recently, the tyres he was using are probably more suited to summer riding with limited puncture protection - I understand that new winter tyres are now on order! 

December Route Profile Max 8.2%
Dave had also suffered a bit of a knock to his lower back whilst riding earlier in the event which was causing him some serious discomfort. It was clear as we approached the split point for the long and short routes that given the time lost due to Dave's puncture and a drop off in our pace, because of the significant discomfort that Dave was in, that it would be prudent to ride the slightly shorter 49 mile route. We arrived back at Poulton in a time of 3 hours 24 minutes and I logged 1534ft of climbing, which confirmed my suspicion that this route had indeed been easier than Decembers when it came to the amount of climbing on the route.

No post about a Performance Cycles Mini Series event would be complete without a mention for the post ride catering, this is simply the best post ride catering I have encountered so far. Instead of the usual free cup of tea and maybe a tiny bowl of pasta (some events don't provide free food and charge for cake etc) these events are supported by a full on catering trailer serving bacon rolls, hot coffee, cakes, sandwich's and in December even mulled wine. And the best bit? Yep, it's free and you can have more than one bacon roll or slice of cake. Other event organisers take note, this is how it should be done!

Proper post ride food in the depths of winter

The post ride atmosphere at both November and Decembers events was really friendly with riders hanging around to have a chat and reacquaint themselves with people they had met out on the ride, as well taking the opportunity to talk to the people from Performance Cycles who were also very friendly and helpful.

Starting to feel that the winter lay off is to long? Need to get out on the bike and get ready for next spring and summer? Try one or two of these events, they really are worth making the effort for.

(No I don't work for Performance Cycles, nor are they bribing me to say these things, these events are really that good)

The remaining dates in the series are as follows;

  • Sunday 20th January 2013
  • Sunday 17th February 2013
  • Sunday 17th March 2013
More information on the Winter Mini Series can be found here Performance Cycles Mini Series   

As always thanks for taking the time to drop by and read the Pixies ramblings and hopefully you will find the time to pop along again in the future.

Dha weles diwettha


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