Whilst we're waiting around (for all the lovely photos to upload to Flickr, for your post-ride enjoyment) here's our report on the 2014 bash.
So, the event organisers must have been rubbing their hands together when they awoke this morning. The most beautiful, warm and sunny day of the year to date! Perhaps the attendant medics weren't quite so upbeat, because the Burgess Hill Bike Ride is now a large and complex undertaking logistically speaking, and resources could possibly have become stretched if the heat had been turned up much further, later in the day.
Fortunately, most riders seemed well prepared, with drinks bottles and CamelBak-style hydration packs at the ready.
There were certainly plenty of volunteers on hand to marshal the get-away (from both the Rotary Club and the Lions, amongst others) and the start was extremely well coordinated, with riders being released in three large waves.
With such a monster entry, this was a sensible plan - as opposed to drip-feeding cyclists out onto the main road over an extended period. Motorists were basically forced to respect the large blocks of emerging riders, with the youngsters able to tuck in, protected by the many experienced adult outriders. Within 15 minutes, the Oakmeeds Community College car park was totally devoid of cyclists!
The route itself was well marked, and following the general direction of the course by car was straightforward too. Several times on the way out of Burgess Hill however, the course detoured from the main highway, and took a more rural route. Now, I don't wish to be too negative, but on at least two occasions I personally witnessed situations that were less than ideal with respect to this.
The first was where Gatehouse lane has been split by the more recently constructed Jane Murray Way, and riders had to dismount to negotiate crossing this very busy road. Likewise (and soon after) where the A2300 had to be crossed between Bishopstone Lane and Job's Lane. The former was pretty uncomfortable to watch, with a seemingly disorganised marshal station failing to adequately slow the fast-moving traffic to allow groups of cyclists to cross safely. The A2300 situation was even worse, with traffic routinely speeding toward the Triangle, and leaving their braking late on approach to the roundabout. Marshals were of course doing their best to ensure these hazards were mitigated, but frankly, they were putting themselves at risk as much as anyone else.
I really would like to see these situations addressed before next year, as it's an accident waiting to happen. I saw very little Police presence throughout the day, and the event could have used a lot more traffic management assistance from Sussex Police. There was just one marked car in evidence (parked up, at the start/finish) and it just wasn't enough.
Anyhow, I moved onto Ditchling to grab a few more pictures, and was rewarded with some amusing images of Superman at the Garden centre, plus a lasting memory of one crazy lady who seemed to think she was posing for page three. Brilliant. You'll have to check the photos for yourself, because I can't really explain either scenario adequately with mere words.
Our final photo-stop was to catch the 40-milers re-entering Burgess Hill at Ditchling Common, which yielded some very pleasing shots with the South Downs as their backdrop.
All in all, a great day. Well done to the organisers, and let's hope Burgess Hill can find a way to help promote cycling and cyclist safety above speeding motorists before we go again next year.
Ooh, and the photos have just finished uploading. Perfect!
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 22:14