Tag Archives: prospect

Charity off road rides – planning one

Prospect Big Ride SwindonCharity off road rides are popular events. Ideally they give riders a way marked route with support from marshals, food stops, recovery and first aid.

In 2011 MBSwindon were asked to marshal the Prospect Hospice Big Ride. This was a fund raising cycle event based near Swindon. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 we devised the route and organised the marking, marshalling, sweeping and clearing. For the first two of these I designed the route myself whilst this year it was a joint effort with Phil Allum. The start and finish area, rider registration and food stop was organised by the Prospect Hospice. They were also responsible for the council safety liaison and obtaining permission to use a short section of footpath.  We have opinions about how these tasks could be done but for this event it was not within our control.

Our time line for the route design was:

  • Many hours spent looking at maps of the area, generally using Bikehike.co.uk.
  • Sun 7th Dec 2013: A 60km recce ride where we tried out every bridleway of interest.
  • Many more hours laying out routes in bikehike and google maps to try and link the favourite parts and meet the distance target before finally choosing a route. Garmin | Strava | Gpx file.
  • Sun13th April 2014: A 55.00km/690m complete route test ride. The target was 55km! I did ride up and down the car park at the end because the total was just short of 55km. Garmin | Strava | Gpx file.
  • Sat 26th April 2014: A 51km/580m route marking ride. We had two groups of riders and a Land Rover to spread the job. Garmin | Strava
  • Sun 27th April 2014: The day of the event! A 61km/695m ride to check the route, add sign posts and then clear it at the end. Garmin | Strava
Prospect big ride route ideas
Some early ideas for sections of the route.

Prospect Big Ride Map 2014

The aim of the route was to meet the distance target and use as many fun sections as we could find in the area. I also had a personal desire to make the route different every year to keep the interest levels up. On our recce we had found that one of the plain looking track descents was actually really fun because it had several bumps for drainage channels and these made good jumps.

I ended up with a few options for the route and after a few weeks of looking and thinking we made a decision to go for what we called “tangled route”. This had two places where the route crossed over itself and two long loops so it was a bit more of a challenge to sign post and marshal. We thought it was worth it though because we really liked all of the sections. Routes from the previous year are shown in the recce ride.

The final route was a 55km loop with short cuts to make 45km and 28km options. Gpx file for the complete long route.

Weeks before the event I drew up a very detailed plan for the checking, marshalling, sweeping and clearing. This details what time various actions have to happen for every person involved on the day. This means that on the day volunteers can just follow the instructions and avoid a panic.

Over the years we’ve managed to streamline the operations on the day. The route is marked out the day before but we also check all of the route on the day in case sign posts have been removed overnight. We’ve saved time by separating sweeping and clearing: the sweeper leaves after the last rider and liberates marshals who can start clearing sign posts. This means that the sweeper can release helpers to clear the signs more quickly than if they were also clearing up. We also start the short event last and close the long split before all the short riders have reached that point. This means that we can start sweeping the long route before the short route is closed.

The weekend of the event was very tiring because it wasn’t a plain bike ride; it involved stopping at regular intervals to put up or remove sign posts. All of this was motivated by the desire to ensure that the event was a success. There was great support from the club during the marking out and the even itself, when we had over thirty people marshalling, checking and sweeping.

Seeing the riders enjoy the event always makes the planning and marking work worth it. It’s great that people choose to go and ride “the Prospect route” after the event.

Photographs of the event on the MBSwindon website: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011. See also maps from previous years.

First rider on the Prospect Big Ride 2014
First rider.
Food stop on a charity bike ride.
Food stop.
MTB jump
Fast track descent. Much more fun than it looks.

Marking out photographs from previous years.

2013_04_27 Prospect Marking Out 009    2012_04_21_22_Prospect Ride 0152013_04_27 Prospect Marking Out 012    2012_04_21_22_Prospect Ride 006   

Tree climbing when route marking.
Tree climbing.

Another 100 mile weekend. Part 2 – Prospect big ride recce

This was ride number two of the weekend. I’d covered over 40km the previous evening on the Noah’s shop ride.

The plan for this was to drive to Swindon, meet up with Phil Allum and go and investigate and rate various pieces of trail that were intended for the Prospect Big Ride 2014. I designed the routes in 2013 & 2012 with a bit of input from others.

2012 2013
photos | maps photos | maps
gpx gpx
50.5 km / 617m 49 km / 610m
Prospect Big Ride 2012 map Prospect big ride 2013 map long

Phil and myself set off on our voyage of discovery on a cold morning. I know the early stages of the ride too well so it was great to reach the first descent and appreciate it. After crossing under the bridge at Ogbourne we had a list of places to visit. As we rode we discussed the various options and ideas for linking them together. Our vision was that the route had to be different from previous years and it had to incorporate the best bits of trail. Phil was clear that the rickety bridge track descent to Ogbourne Maizey was the best section in the area.

Prospect big ride viewThe ride was quite heavy going since we were pedalling at a good pace and we had more than 55km to cover and repeat visits to some areas.

We trialled an old favourite descent near Ramsbury. This got a thumbs up from Phil. I’ve got some video of it below. Back nearer to Ogbourne we rode up or down every bridleway on the hill. We agreed on the best parts and I knew that linking them together would require some effort.

Riding along I decided that with the Stump Jumper off the road due to knackered forks then only having one spare bike was really not good enough. I needed the n+1 bike. I decided that if Hargroves Swindon still had the ex demo Camber 29″ then I’d buy it.

We were not looking forwards to riding up Smeathe’s ridge but after a sit down we were ready and found it not as bad as we expected. it’s a funny hill – it really doesn’t work as a descent, probably due to the grass swallowing up the speed.

Specialized saddleWe took a slightly new route back to Ladder Lane. Phil engaged his full downhill speed here, leaving me a fair distance behind. I was still quite happy with my performance though – I am a bit cautious on downhills really but I have my crazy days where I’m a bit faster.

After a quick ride round the second half of the Croft Trail we were both knackered and happy to stop. The Garmin plot showed 61km, 730m of ascent and 2,100 KCal. Gpx file.

I called round Hargroves but my bike plans were thwarted – they’d sold the Camber 29″ a few weeks ago. I settled on a new saddle for the existing bike.

Prospect big ride 2014 route recceAt home I spent many, many hours drawing route options and measuring the distances. I ended up with a few main choices, Phil expressed some opinions and finally a decision was made. It’s an option we named “tangled route”. It is going to be 55km long with 710m of ascent – slightly harder than previous years.

Preview video from 2013 showing many of the good sections.

The photos below are from the event, marking out and recce rides from previous years.