Isle of Wight Randonnee 2014
Another year past, another randonnee ridden. I've blogged about this several times now and, as usual, I spent the day at the Whitwell checkpoint helping to supply refreshments to hungry riders and, in the process, raising around £650 for a local children's charity. We couldn't have asked for better weather for it – dry, light winds and a bit of sunshine and so it was no surprise that we had a record entry of 2152 riders. However, with only a few days to go before the event things were looking far from rosy.....!
A key feature of the randonnee is the chain ferry that carries cars, cyclists and pedestrians across the river Medina from Cowes to East Cowes. Every April it is taken out of service for a few days for routine maintenance and replaced by a small launch. This year it needed major attention and had to be taken to dry dock in Southampton but would, we were assured, be back in time for the randonnee. We crossed our fingers and hoped but it was no great surprise when we were informed 5 days before the event that the repairs were taking longer than anticipated and it would not be back in time. The replacement launch is far too small to carry the necessary numbers of cyclists and so the event had to be rerouted to cross the Medina at Newport. Three members of the randonnee committee met with the council to agree the alternative route and the council agreed to supply additional signage and to provide marshalls on the day. It added a bit of distance and included some busier roads but it did miss out a couple of hills. In the end it went like clockwork with many riders commenting on how well signed it was and some even saying that they preferred it to the normal hilly route through Cowes.
I was a little more involved in the organisation this year and quickly discovered how much work the committee put into making this event such a success. Apart from the obvious headaches of risk assessments and insurance there were simple things that I hadn't considered. Certificates and brevet cards arrived from the printers in large boxes (there were 3000 of each) and had to be counted out. Actually only 100 were counted out, they were then weighed and the remainder sorted by weight for distribution amongst the six check points. Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that we would have to do this!
All the hard work paid off with the cyclists having a great day and many commenting on the 'carnival atmosphere'.