Diary of a Sportive Support Day
Saturday 25th April 2015 – ITP events Rutland Sportive
This was the second event I had supported for ITP events having been introduced by Neil Exton of AGU mobile bicycle repairs – one of my tutors I met while undertaking my City and Guilds. (My efforts at last years Lincoln Grand Prix sportive must have been noticed as Ian Penrose had asked me back to cover this and the Lincoln Sportives).
ITP events are always extremely well organised, well received and with good turnouts. This event was no different and an excellent field of 1030+ riders meant that our time would be fully occupied. Thankfully the weather (apart from the wind) wouldn’t be a major factor as the day was bright with broken cloud and sun.
An early 7am start at Rutland Water and no hanging about – straight into helping build one of the many gazeebos that adorn the start/finish line.
After a briefing between Neil, his son Paul (who would be covering the course on his motorbike) and myself, the plan for the day was decided. Neil would set out about 30 minutes after the first long route riders had set off then Paul after 45 minutes and myself after an hour. This ‘staggering’ of departures allows us to deal with any issues that may arise on all the routes and not be too far into the course to be able to deal with issues nearer to the start.
But before that it was time to set up the work stands at the start and deal with any last minute adjustments or issues before the riders set off.
The most frequent request?
To use our wire cutters to remove the tag from the end of the cable tie for attaching the rider number!
There were other issues with minor adjustments to gears (and subsequent advice on drivetrain servicing and cleanliness……), to re-truing a wheel with a number of loose spokes, and the most bizarre – a very noticeable front wheel click on a very expensive set of carbon wheels, only under load, and every revolution. After a little head scratching and both Neil and myself looking at it, it was narrowed down to an ill-fitting valve; a tightening of the locking ring saw the end of the noise.
After setting off following the field it wasn’t long before I received my first call from control to attend one of two rear mech. hanger issues, the first was an end to the riders event as the rear mech. had pulled completely over the top of the cassette jammed in the wheel and as the rider had come off the bike the rear wheel rim had snapped. The second was recoverable but only back at the Giant Cycle store, where a new rear mech. and mech. hanger enabled him to resume the short route.
And most unusual…
The next was an unusual call – a lady had torn her tyre and needed a replacement – nothing too unusual in that but the tyre had split both sides all the way around the rim. After changing the tyre and replacing the wheel, it was obvious that the wheel was not sitting correctly – a quick check revealed that the quick release retaining springs were the wrong way round and the resultant 2-3mm had caused the brake pads to wear through the tyre after only a few miles.
Keeping in constant communication with Neil, Paul and control we co-ordinated our movement around the route to ensure we kept up with the riders and kept the whole route within easy reach.
The last major incident I had to deal with was a snapped chain, on a virtually brand new Giant bike fitted with 11 speed Ultegra gearing – the chain had snapped on the link pin (I really do not like these and this is the 3rd chain on an 11 speed groupset that I have seen snap in this manner – a ‘chain link’ is far more reliable). After fitting a chain link and straightening out the front mech. the rider was on his way once again.
The rest of the event passed with only minor issues and gave me time to appreciate the rolling countryside of Leicestershire before it was time to find the last rider on the road and ensuring no one was left out on the road. Ian from ITP Events doesn’t set a time limit on completion allowing the riders to ride at their own pace, so it was time for a run around the route between us all until the last rider was located on the road and a convoy of mechanics and broom wagon shepherded the riders to the finish.
My time was done and another day of forward planning and constant communication had ensured that the sportive was relatively uneventful, thanks of course to Neil, Paul and Ian and the ITP team.