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After a wave of negativity in the news, did anyone have a good ride at VB? How did it stack up against Ride London. Well organised? Good weather? (just about as late as a 'summer' event could be. I got a reminder for next year as I expressed an interest, wondering if I should check it out. I hope they had the route pinned down before you set off.

26 comments

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Judge dreadful [273 posts] 2 months ago
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I quite enjoyed it, the weather was lovely, until late evening, the food station at 55 miles wasn't good, but the others were okay. The organisation wasn't bad, considering it was their first crack at it. There was one incident of a mad woman going ballistic at the riders waiting at the start, ranting about the 'disruption to her area' etc, some prick(s) put tacks out on the course, and a deliberate oil spill out on the course, which only served to delay the start by 15 minutes, whilst the organisers sorted it out. The crowds / residents that came out to support us all were amazing, helping fill people's bottles from their houses, and even handing out free cakes and treats, in some cases. They were almost universally welcoming and friendly, and really got into it. The route was brutal ( for a domestic Sportive ) due mainly to the last 10 - 15 miles,but I preferred it to the Ride London. I reckon it's well worth another crack next year.

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martin_in_surrey [3 posts] 2 months ago
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Put simply, the organisers over stretched themselves.  The start was chaotic  with no information and no signage guiding riders to their start points.  Parts of the route couldn't handle the volume of cyclists - came to a complete standstill at one point due to sheer volume of cyclists on a narrow road.  The organisation of the feed stops was particularly poor,  they were in bad locations and with huge queues to get into them.

When it was launched a year ago, the organisers said they'd make it the best sportive anyone's ridden in.  They fell a long way short, nowhere near as well organised as Ride London.  And, of course, there was the farcical registration process to enter the event, and the farcical wholesale change of the route only a few weeks ago.

The crowds though were fantastic, the route was pretty good (caveated by the fact some roads couldn't handle the capacity)

All the publicity said there were 15000 riders, yet the finish times published on the website lists just over 11000 finishers and less than 500 DNFs.  3500 people seem to have gone missing!

If they had restricted entry to 5000 it might have been more of a success.

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jimbo2112 [89 posts] 2 months ago
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Bullets for brevity:

  • In hotel near start, so no probs getting there
  • Started early so no issues with crowded roads
  • Did not stop so no issues with food stops
  • Signage - had no problems getting around course
  • Conditions - some corners needed a sweep
  • Idiots: veg oil on road - farmers trimming hedges onto road - tacks - petty protests
  • Supporters - amazing, made my day
  • Route - not as good as Ride London (IMHO), brutal as well, very lumpy and difficult to get a rhythm
  • Weather was superb, but no guarantees there
  • Will I do it next year? Maybe, depends when they plan it for as I'm doing LEJOG!
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stomec [31 posts] 2 months ago
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Mixed feelings really. 

On the plus side the crowds were amazing - so much support - made for a really great atmosphere.

The route was generally good, rolling course, no nasty hills and the final run into Birmingham was great (last 10 miles or so) 

On the downsides:

-I was in the last wave to set off.  So when I got to the feed station at mile 55 there was no food and no water.  I'd counted on getting more gels and fluid at this point and foolishly hadn't brought any cash, thinking why bother?  Therefore had to queue for over half an hour to get a bidon full of energy drink so dilute (they were runnign out of that too) it was a real struggle to get to the next stop.  This was disgraceful and a serious lack of planning.

-Other stops also badly planned and a 3 times I had to dismount and walk the bike due to bunching as the road narrowed.

-Overall I spent an hour walking/at a standstill.  Never had that in any other sportive.

-Havign to register the day before was pointless and obviously a bribe to Birmigham city council to get more people into the city the night before; no reason why the packs couldn't have been posted out.  This added yet more expense.

-At the finish over half an hour queue to get in to the area for the "afterparty" and a free beer.  Didn't bother.

I think a lot of the issues were logistical and could be sorted next year, but I'm in 2 minds about doing it again.  The closed roads were ok but I've enjoyed other events much more on quiet roads with traffic to be honest, and for the price of Velo Birmingham I could do at leats 2 before thinking about the cost of accommodation.

Having said that I'd recommend anyone considering taking part should fork out extra for the fast track entry to (a) have your registration pack posted to you and (b) start in the first few waves.   The extra spent on the fast track should be more than reclaimed by not having to spend money on hotels or car parking if you are out of area.

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theironduck [92 posts] 2 months ago
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I had a really good day despite some niggles.

Cons:

- Pointless registration process making people trog into B'ham on the Saturday

- Delayed start (45 mins) with no explanation given at the time

- Not enough loos at the start

- Too many riders / not enough staggering of start waves.  I started at 7:30 (nominally) and it was wall-to-wall riders on narrow roads until the last 20-30 miles.   I found it hard to enjoy some of the descents due to the crowding

- No signage back to car parks (that I saw).  Had to rely on the Google lady shouting at me from my pocket

- No savoury option at the food stops (well, not at the 72 mile one anyway)

- Not much atmosphere in B'ham at the start and we didn't get to see any iconic buildings, just suburbia

Pros: 

- Challenging, rolling course (took me 25 mins longer than RideLondon)

- Nice scenery

- Good signposting and warning of turns

- Great support from spectators along the way

- Helpers on the road-side handing out gels so you didn't need to stop

- A nice end-of-summer event to round off the year

Overall I had a good time and would recommend it although if I had to choose I'd pick RideLondon.  I probably won't do it again next year purely because there are so many sportives to choose from.

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Htc [7 posts] 2 months ago
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Overall a 7/10 vs London at 9/10

Delayed at started for 45mins.

I was in the first regular wave and had no issues with any busy sections at all.

Food/water stops were fine but selection pretty average, shouldn’t matter though as you would hope everyone would be self sufficient bar water top up.

Route was a lot easier than expected, rolling most of the ride and good quality road surface for 99% of the ride.

Biggest negative was quite a bit of press about the Ribble sponsered KOM but no signage at the start or finish so rode straight through this without having a dig. Also no times for this as part of race results so I’m not sure if this didn’t actually get set up to be honest - maybe someone else knows?!

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luiandlui [10 posts] 2 months ago
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Had a great time mostly although definitely some teething problems which need ironing out for next year - 

 

Pros - 

  • Weather was great - perfect cycling weather and it could have been so much worse given the time of year.
  • Crowds - Just awesome, obviously helped by the good weather. Much higher turnout than I expected and all very supportive, had great fun giving kids high fibes throughout. A special mention for the people of Bewdley - wow, what an incredible atmosphere, really had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

 

Cons - 

  • Pit stops were woefully under-resourced. I skipped the first, despite having no food/water as it looked like carnage. Took me 40 minutes to get a banana and a refill at the second one. Didn't bother with any of the others. Ditto the finish, couldn't be bothered to queue for 30 minutes for my free pint so just went home.

 

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luiandlui [10 posts] 2 months ago
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Htc wrote:

 

Biggest negative was quite a bit of press about the Ribble sponsered KOM but no signage at the start or finish so rode straight through this without having a dig. Also no times for this as part of race results so I’m not sure if this didn’t actually get set up to be honest - maybe someone else knows?!

 

Yeah, I noticed this when I first signed up but it disappeared from the website long before the actual ride so I guess it got cancelled for whatever reason.

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PRSboy [97 posts] 2 months ago
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I was signed up, but was not able to attend for various reasons as I could not go up the day before.  Shame as it looked a fun event and was great weather.

Having to go in the day before to register was a major barrier; I might well have just driven up first thing on the day if I'd been able to.  seems daft to promote a 'green' event, then make people drive in twice!  I would happily pay postage and admin fee, but the full fast track was too much of a stretch; bet part of £200 all in for accoms, entry, food etc for a bike ride... 3 days in Mallorca was not a lot more!

Was disappointed as always by the attitude of a vocal minority of locals, set on their sunday trip to B&Q or whatever.  God forbid they might get snowed in over the winter...

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HLaB [159 posts] 2 months ago
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The Support, the marshalling, course, banter etc were great some of the other riders less so.  I started early so crowds weren't too bad but I p'tured twice so got caught up in them but I skipped the first few feed stops and it thinned out.  I then made the stupid mistake of stopping at the 70miles feed stop thinking I'd better stock up for the brutal climb.  Just when I was leaving I spotted a mate so politely stopped for a chat.  It turned out to be nothing out of the ordinary climbwise and it let the crowds catch up. I managed to successfully navigate the crowds however right up until 90miles when somebody swerved into my path and took my front wheel out.  He promptly apologised and sped off leaving me sprawling on the ground.  A motorbike marshal was prompt to make sure folk gave me room and is first words were 'I saw what he done', not that he could have done much  7

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rando [8 posts] 2 months ago
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Excellent day of cycling and given it was the first time of hosting such an event I thought it went pretty well.

Biggest pain was having to pre register on Saturday - No reason why rider packs couldn't have been posted out. Other big sportives I have done manage this.

Also getting to the pre booked car park on Sunday morning was more difficult than it should have been. A few more marshals directing would have helped as lots of the roads already closed off.

But like i say fairly minor gripes. Hopefully for next year things will be sorted.

As to the ride itself I thought it was excellent from start to finish. Delayed at the start but since discovered it was for safety reasons while they cleared some of the roads that had been strewn with tacks. I was in Pen A1 and got out about 8am. Had no issues with the feed stations and was expecting queues due to the number of cyclists. All stocked reasonably well. Would have like some savoury option like peanuts or salted crisps as it was a warm day I was losing salt through sweating and there is only so much energy drinks / sugary food you can stomach.

Thought the seperate water stations and toilets on route was an excellent idea.

By far the best part of the cycling though was the crowds of people at roadside cheering us all.

Made for a great atmosphere and was great to see so many children high fiving the riders.

So overall I thought it was well worth the money and effort and have already pre registered for next year. Never done the ride London so can't compare.

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mikepridmorewood [40 posts] 2 months ago
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I thought it was a brilliant day out. 

Not ideal with the delayed start which we were actually informed of and had expected it anyway.

Feed stop at 55 miles was busy but again expected.

The route was pretty tough and in some respects harder than the White Rose Classic and definately much harder than London which is now turning into a 100 mile TT

The best bit though was the roadside support we got. Bewdley felt like it was Bergen! we did see some signs of complaints outside the houses but these were outnumbered by at least 1000/1 with people embracing the day and making the most out of it.

When we arrived at the finish we were also told there was about a 1/2 wait to get in but stuck it out as the rest of our club were already inside. It took less than 10 minutes to get in and the atmosphere was great.

All in all a good first run at such a massive event and it will improve. The NIA was at capacity really so how about starting at the NEC in conjunction with the Cycle Show and make it a mega weekend long event? Much more space for everything too and could still take in the City centre on the way out, a bit like London does.

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Duncann [1159 posts] 2 months ago
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I hope the organisers are reading these comments!

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dave atkinson [6330 posts] 2 months ago
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Duncann wrote:

I hope the organisers are reading these comments!

I've pointed them at this thread.

Interesting to hear that it was crowded in the pack, though not surprising given the numbers. I went off in the very first group and then there was a half-hour delay, i think, while they sorted out the oil and the tacks (they'd covered the oil with straw when we rode over it but i'm guessing they wanted to clean it up properly). the upshot of that was that it thinned out very quickly and we rode it as a 2-up for about half of the 55 miles to the second feed stop. we were never in a group of more than about 10. perks of being at the front i guess.

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mikepridmorewood [40 posts] 2 months ago
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Just thought of another thing to add. How about closing the roads where the tacks were thrown and the oil poured until an investigation into who did is is concluded and the road made safe again?

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theironduck [92 posts] 2 months ago
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mikepridmorewood wrote:

Just thought of another thing to add. How about closing the roads where the tacks were thrown and the oil poured until an investigation into who did is is concluded and the road made safe again?

I don't think collective punishment of communities that were kind enough to host an event such as this is either fair or conducive to good future relations.  That said, I'd be happy to see the moron sabateurs publicly blamed for any disruption caused to locals due to the clear up operation.  Some hay and cones were enough to make the road safe for the duration of the event but I suspect clearing up the spilt oil afterwards was a bigger task.

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Jetmans Dad [2 posts] 2 months ago
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Don't really have a lot to add to these comments, bar agreeing with some of the cons quoted ... lack of food at the 55 mile stop and the generally chaotic atmosphere at them being in the last but one wave to depart. I had gels to get me to the end but was crying out for half a banana or something a little more solid. 

Also ... wine gums? Maybe it is just me, or the part of the country I hail from, but jelly babies are so far superior, being easier to eat on the move due to the softer, less chewy texture. Guess the packets are just not set up for something like that. 

Also agree much harder ride than London (never done 2000m of climbing on a ride before Sunday - still not quite ready to say I enjoyed that but very pleased to have completed it). 

As far as practicalities go, staying at the Broadway Plaza Travelodge and having a 3 minute gentle ride to the start knocks driving 45 minutes from Barnet to Grosvenor Hill and then cycling a further 45 minutes to the Olympic Park into a cocked hat. 

And the support on the route ... brilliant, hand sore from high fives by the end and having people by the roadside cheering you by name was amazing (whoever thought up putting your first name on your handlebar number deserves a medal of their own). 

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Judge dreadful [273 posts] 2 months ago
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I started in the second to last wave, but put the hammer down early on and cleared the ( inevitable ) 'compression' caused by less experienced / less quick, riders paying more for an earlier start. Fortunately, the route was flat to downhill on the first 20 mile stretch, and I got it done in just under 1  hour. I had one incident of a 'Billy big bollox / all the gear no idea' merchant riding like a complete cock, and nearly wiping a few riders out, but one out of 11000 odd riders, isn't bad odds ( in a Sportive) TBF. I'm not entirely surprised that 3500 odd riders went AWOL, as I'd heard through various channels that a few people "couldn't be arsed" with the registration processes, and extrapolation of the numbers, probably leads to the conclusion proved by the data. I'll give it a go next year, as ( has been previously said, up thread) the PRLS 100, has become a risky 100 mile TT / chopper fest. I really don't do 'Sportives' as they are fake / unlicensed races, in all but name, but the crowd support alone, on this event, made it well worthwhile.

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wknight [52 posts] 2 months ago
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The roads were cleared of tacs and oil as quick as possible. Several of the motorcyclists got tacs in their tyres. It's not easy to change the route which is why they try to keep it open. Safety is paramount. There was also a long piece of wood stretched across the road. Some of the motorists were very abuisve to the marshalls, and then you wonder why they are short of marshalls. Who wants to stand all day, no access to a loo, only the food they give you and you are just a volunteer. 

 

Please spare a thought for all the support staff, I started at 0500 and never got home until 2030 a very long day and was yelled at by many motorists. 

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barongreenback [114 posts] 2 months ago
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My first sportive and really enjoyed it although I was in one of the earlier groups and finished in just over 6 hours so I didn’t experience the later carnage at feed stations.  I carried enough anyway as I’ve read countless sportive reviews that moan about the food on offer. Running out of water though is unforgivable. Support on the route was great and more than made up for the passive aggressive farmers who chose to trim hedges onto the roads. Special mention to the people of Bewdley who were utterly amazing. 

Personalised numbers were a great idea and put a smile on my face when people cheered me on.

Even thinned out there were still a few roads that felt a little too narrow for the amount of entrants, especially with a few of the ‘on your right’ mob who thought that every stretch was a TdF sprint finish. 

Final hills were tough with 75 miles already in the legs and the downhill back into Brum was a relief.  If the organisers are reading, a few suggestions:

- More of a party atmosphere in the other pens rather than just being able to hear music a mile up front at the start line.  

- More loos by the pens and easier access rather than having to vault barriers  

- Finale back on the NIA was a bit of a damp squib. Free beer was good (thanks Purity) but the hall was  bit empty.  Needed a few more stalls/exhibitors etc. to keep people hanging around.  Alternatively use Centenary Square for an open air party.

I think they did ok for a first attempt and I hope they learn from the experience for next year.  And I hope that Bewdley is on the route again!

 

 

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Judge dreadful [273 posts] 2 months ago
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wknight wrote:

The roads were cleared of tacs and oil as quick as possible. Several of the motorcyclists got tacs in their tyres. It's not easy to change the route which is why they try to keep it open. Safety is paramount. There was also a long piece of wood stretched across the road. Some of the motorists were very abuisve to the marshalls, and then you wonder why they are short of marshalls. Who wants to stand all day, no access to a loo, only the food they give you and you are just a volunteer. 

 

Please spare a thought for all the support staff, I started at 0500 and never got home until 2030 a very long day and was yelled at by many motorists. 

Thanks for your ( and all the other volunteers) efforts, in making it work. I'm sure I speak for the vast majority of the riders in saying we appreciated it greatly. Top job, one and all.

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theironduck [92 posts] 2 months ago
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wknight, sorry you had to put up with arsey drivers.  You have earned the gratitude of 11000 cyclists.  I hope that makes up for it in part.  Thank you!

+ 1 billion kudos 

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theironduck [92 posts] 2 months ago
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By way of comparison, here are this year's RideLondon and Birmingham Vélo medals.  The London one is clearly chunkier and fancier but the Birmingham one has the advantage of not featuring a massive cock...

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Awavey [358 posts] 2 months ago
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Jetmans Dad wrote:

And the support on the route ... brilliant, hand sore from high fives by the end and having people by the roadside cheering you by name was amazing (whoever thought up putting your first name on your handlebar number deserves a medal of their own). 

Ive seen it done before on well organised half marathons, and yeah its slightly weird at first to have random roadside people shouting your name out encouraging you,or even fellow runners as they pass you, probably harder to do on a bike at speed, but certainly a good idea to copy for closed road sportives like this.

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luiandlui [10 posts] 2 months ago
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Does anyone have any idea how to get in touch with the Velo organisers now the ride is over ?  (I've tried the email address and Facebook page but just get automated replies). I had to rush off on Sunday so didn't have time to pickqueue to get into the hall and pick up the bag I dropped off on Saturday. There isn't anything of any massive value in there but I'd still quite like to get it back !!

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Zebulebu [78 posts] 2 months ago
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luiandlui wrote:

Does anyone have any idea how to get in touch with the Velo organisers now the ride is over ?  (I've tried the email address and Facebook page but just get automated replies). I had to rush off on Sunday so didn't have time to pickqueue to get into the hall and pick up the bag I dropped off on Saturday. There isn't anything of any massive value in there but I'd still quite like to get it back !!

Still responding to twitter - tweet them (someone else tweeted the exact same thing yesterday)