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
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.
Marking out photographs from previous years.