I've never ridden this event but I've certainly heard of it so when my club mentioned joining in I felt compelled to join in. I've been a little off cycling (apart from my commutes). It's common to lose your mojo during the winter months so this seemed the ideal way to refocus. I made sure I told as many people as possible so I'd find it difficult to get out of participating. I got the summer bike up on the work stand the day before (it's been hooked up to the turbo trainer for a while) and gave it a good going over and a clean up.
The alarm woke me about 7am and after getting in my club kit and a bit of breakfast I got the bike set off to the starting point. The starting point was in Bircotes, over 15 miles from home - good warm up ride.
The ride out was good, after a few miles I was feeling pretty good. I took it steady whilst keeping an eye on the time. I thought I'd see more riders on the way up, I only came across a few on the way (although I had no idea if they were travelling to the same event). I arrived at about 9:10am. There were about 15 other members of my club there to ride amongst the hundreds of others.
It was a 10am start but the organisers started to let riders go in groups of 30 or so from 9:50am. We were off and although the organisers had stressed that this event was NOT A RACE it was clear from the off that the pace was much more than I expected. I stayed with my club mates for a while but the speed as we hurtled towards Retford was just too much (most of them are seasoned road racers and time trialists). I reached Retford much faster than I anticipated and before I knew it I was through the other side. I caught up with the club as we headed north and stayed with them for a while. We ended up in a large group somewhere near Gainsborough (I think) which scattered our group a little. I got penned in and lost my club again. As we turned west the field became thinner and where there were large peletons at the beginning now we had small groups and individuals. There was one member that I managed to catch up with and although he was a few hundred yards in front I felt confident that he knew where he was going (he'd said before that he'd loaded the route into his Garmin).
The field of riders had all but vanished except for my club mate who was ahead but still in sight. I had started to suspect that I was going the wrong way for a while and I was almost certain when I started to see signs saying I was on the A18 to Doncaster. I lost sight of my lead at the next roundabout. Knowing I was off course and on my own I considered just heading home but part of me wanted to finish so I headed towards Bawtry (knowing that the route passed through there) on a route that took me through the busy retail parks and past the racecourse.
Reaching Bawtry was a big boost to me after seeing riders that had obviously finished and heading home. From Bawtry it was easy going back to the finish point. I was pleased to have made it round even if I'd added miles to my ride. After a short break I had more riding to do. I needed to get home.
The ride between Bircotes and home had a few climbs, nothing nasty but after almost 5 hours in the saddle I felt them all. Having said that I got over and through at a fair pace and arrived home in good time.
Would I do it again? If the weather was as good then yes, but I'd make sure I had the route nailed down and I think I'd want to train a bit harder.
This is what the organisers said afterwards...
The 2016 Tom Simpson Memorial broke all previous records today with the leading group that included Russ Downing, John and Jake Tanner racing around the course in 2 hours and 5 minutes taking 20 minutes off the previous fast time set two years ago. 399 riders signed on today breaking the previous best of 225 riders . The total money raised today was a staggering £2106.62 which has been banked today and a chq for half this amount has been sent to the David Rayner Fund . Thanks to all of those that signed on and took part in todays ride.A great start to hopefully a great cycling year.