Closed Road Events – Review.

I have been asked a number of times which was the best of the “closed road” events that I have completed. So let me sum up my thoughts on three of them.

Tour of Cambridgeshire
Velothon Wales
Ridelondon 100

Closed Road Events Overview.

If you have never done a closed road event it should be on your bucket list of things to do as a cyclist. These are always big organised events so you immediately get the feeling you are part of something huge. Banners, sponsors, tents and marquees will all get you in the right frame of mind for your ride. These events are always pre-register (you can’t turn up on the day and ride) So all your rides tend to build up towards the closed road event. Everything is classified as “training” rides being part of pre-work to the “closed road” event. Then there are the sheer number of participants. All different levels of cyclists with all manner of bikes and kit. Lots of nervous banter in the starting pens and everyone asking just how much training have you done etc.

So as you queue up to roll over the start line, you get the real sense you are participating in something different. Roll out the gate and you will notice a lot of people still riding on the left (the standard cycling position in the road) After a while people start to spread out and use the whole road. You soon realise the complete lack of motor traffic, just the gentle hum of the noise of rolling bike tires on the tarmac. The odd shout of “coming through” as a fast road train of bikes thunders through. Soon you find yourself on the back of a group of cyclists of similar ability and you look down and are staggered at the speed you are going. No traffic lights, the whole road to use for every corner, the group of cyclists who split into two streams to go around the roundabouts. (I always go the wrong way – just because I can). You can take every corner with the fastest line and with the size of the groups on the road you really get that “pro” experience.

The finish line is always the highlight, I defy anyone (even with smashed legs) not to have a little sprint down the final 100 meters with the sponsor boards and the gantry with the timing clock looming up.

So here is my take on the 3 rides….

Tour of Cambridge

The route:
Pan flat course out through the fens and flatlands around Peterborough. The roads are in good condition and off the beaten track. Lots of long straight open sections which are beautiful in the sun and light wind but could be every cyclists demise on a wet / windy day.

Not bad for their first event. Could do with a better checking in area and handing out your finishing medals etc. You can register on the morning, as it a 12:00pm start.

Nice big arena, plenty of parking. Needs to have more toilets and food areas as they were a bit oversubscribed.

The overall experience:
Cool “race” experience if you want it. Go off like a pro, get in a breakaway proper big UCI event or ride it as an “aggressive” sportive. Great experience if the weather is in your favour. Probably the easiest of the three rides (but not in a strong wind)

Velothon Wales

The route:
Flat 50 miles at the start followed by some nice big climbs in the 2nd half (including the iconic Tumble)
Roads in good condition with some fantastic scenery.

Well organised start pens, plenty of updates over email.

The expo was a little lacking, being outside and with only a few exhibitors and the food stops were a bit chaotic.

The overall experience:
Excellent ride, could be pretty hardcore in rain and bad weather definitely the most challenging of the three rides.

RideLondon 100

The route:
100 miles through London and Surrey. Three average climbs with one little kicker near the end at Wimbledon. Leafy lanes and some of the capitals iconic landmarks.

Very well organised, plenty of emails and glossy brochures.

Feed stations are very crowded, start and finish points are in different locations with a bag drop service.

The overall experience:
The gold event – due to the the number of entrants (25000) Its a bit of a pain to get to the start, and you are forced to register in the days before. The registration is in another part of the city. You get to sprint down the mall to Buckingham palace. !!! BIG EVENT ATMOSPHERE


One thought on “Closed Road Events – Review.

  1. Nice summary. I think next year I’ll try and enter the Tour of Cambridgeshire. We could get a good road train cranking along those flat and fast closed roads! Might even sign up for the TT the day before (top 25% qualify for Worlds in Australia! I can dream…) but that would mean taking two bikes! The only thing that bugs me is the 12pm start. I’d much prefer it to be an early morning kick off.

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