As the news broke of Bradley Wiggins historic Tour de France victory, we spoke to the 'Ride with Brad' organiser Mark Sandamas of Pennine Events and Pete Slater of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation to find out more about what is shaping up to be much more than a sportive – a cycling festival in Pendle with the sport’s star turn top of the bill.
'Ride with Brad' is scheduled to take part on 19 August, starting and finishing in the Lancashire town of Barnoldswick, with 100km or 160km routes in the Forest of Bowland and Forest of Pendle areas; which also happen to be among Lancashire-based Brad’s favourite training routes. We caught up with Mark Sandamas, director of experienced events company Pennine Events, who gave us an insight into how the ride came about and what riders and their families can expect on the day.
“It came about through a number of ways really,” said Mark, who, with his team, is hard at work nailing down the details of the 19 August event. “Since last year Brad has been considering having a sportive in his name, like some of the Italian ‘Gran Fondos’ that are named after their top riders, held over some of their favourite training routes. Brad was keen to create a foundation and launch it with this ride, where he would be the public face of it – you know ‘Come and ride with me’,” explained Sandamas.
Mark and his team are based in the Lancashire area and are old hands at delivering events over the roads of Bowland and Pendle, with the Pendle Pedal and the Pendle Predator well loved by the sportive cognoscenti.
“We’ve taken the route over a lot of the roads Brad trains on, over the Nick, over Waddington Fell, over the Trough of Bowland,” said Mark, alluding to the signature climbs that punctuate the 160km and 100km routes. Like Brad, Mark is based in the area and clearly loves the terrain as much as Wiggins, admitting “Even if I didn’t live there I’d still rave about it.”
Above: Check out the route preview video. We’ve got a full route preview here.
However, given the stature of the ride’s patron, Mark and his team are intent on the event being much more than a usual weekend sportive, reflected in the choice of venue for the event: “We’ve chosen Victory Park as the start because it gives us a lot more space to cope with the numbers that we’re expecting on the day.
“As well as the sportive, we’ve also got loads of stuff for people who come along who aren’t cyclists as such but want to see Bradley.
“We want to emphasise the festival side of things. If you’re coming along to do the 160Km or the 100Km ride bring your family – we’ve got circus skills, stunt displays, Go-Ride and other kids’ activities there. They can enjoy the whole day.”
“Cycle Sport Pendle has got heavily involved and enthused by it – they’ve got a lot of activities there including a MTB-cross race and a cycle skills circuit for young riders. Go-Ride will be there – they will be putting on a mini cyclo-cross in the park.”
However the killer USP of the event is Wiggins himself, who is wholeheartedly committed to the event, even picking the date himself to ensure it fits with his manic 2012 schedule. “Brad will be there during the day, riding, seeing people off and greeting them when they finish,” said Peter Slater from the Bradley Wiggins Foundation before revealing that Cyclevox’s Anthony McCrossan will be commentating on the event, along with British Cycling President Brian Cookson OBE and a number of other high profile cycling names in attendance.
As befits a ride bearing Wiggins’ name, the level of rider support promises to be suitably ‘maillot jaune’, with chip timing provided by Map My Tracks and a special feature for budding ‘grimpeurs’, as Sandamas explained:
“With the support of Lancashire Police, we’re able to do a King of the Mountains Challenge supported by Map My Tracks on the climbs of Waddington Fell, the Trough of Bowland and Nick O’Pendle. Riders will be timed from the bottom to the top of each climb and their cumulative times will be put together. There’s an Adidas Team Sky jersey signed by the whole team for the quickest up the hills on the 160Km and 100Km rides plus runner up prizes.”
Gatorade and CNP are partnering the event and supplying all their energy drinks and Gels at the feed stations, and speaking of food, Sandamas revealed that the event caterers have teamed up with celebrity chef Aiden Byrne, who will be there on the day to add a bit of haute cuisine to the grub available at Victory Park. “Brad’s a household name and that means that a lot of other people want to put their names forward and get involved in the event,” said Sandamas.
During the ride, participants will enjoy the level of support for which Pennine Events are renowned which includes full ride support and route marshalling, and mechanical support from event partner Wiggle.
No ride is complete without a goody bag, some of the items contained in the Ride with Brad goody bag will be; a Fizik musette, nutrition products, Lezyne tyre levers and a potential collector’s item; an exclusive Ride with Brad Adidas T-Shirt.
Speaking about the company behind the ride, Mark was justifiably proud, “We’ve never stood still –Pedal for Scotland has won even more awards recently including ‘Best Sport Event’ and the overall Grand Prix award at the UK Event Awards. . We were picked by Nova to work with them developing and delivering the Great Manchester Cycle and have delivered the inaugural London to Brighton Night Ride which has raised over £650,000 for British Heart Foundation. We’ve made sure that the standards keep developing.
“To give you an idea about the quality of our route management team – we have a number of fairly senior ex-policemen now so all of that planning and control operation has got a lot of depth behind it.”
After riding the route and speaking to event organiser Mark it’s clear that all the boxes have been ticked; great route; experienced organising team; top class rider support; a festival atmosphere and, last but not least, Bradley Wiggins... If you’re a cycling fan or sportive rider it seems that you need a pretty good reason not to be at Victory Park on 19 August. Our advice? Book a place and make sure you don’t miss out.