Friday Night at the Tour

After a very successful Prologue Ride in January, we were all really looking forward to the 2019 main event and I thought everyone involved, cyclists and volunteers, might enjoy browsing through a relaxed recap, so here goes.

Friday Night at the Tour was really well attended this year, partly because people enjoy Janet’s fish and chip supper as well as her rice pudding, made as a result of Paddy Dunn’s special request, and also because we had an interesting line-up of guest speakers.

Our Official Bike Partner, Adrian Passmore, who builds the Bullfinch range of bikes in Solihull talked through the aspects of bike design, building and highlighted the many benefits. Maria Leijerstam, the world’s first person to ride a bike to the South Pole inspired everyone for the challenge ahead of them the next day, Simon Warren, one of our ambassadors gave some excellent advice on the routes and Nathan Thomas from Team Ineos (SKY) was on hand to pick up the pieces, no, only joking, to help prevent or look after any niggles.

People contact us for all sorts of reasons as the day of the Tour gets closer and I think my favourite collection this year was from a family who rang on a number of occasions with various queries and requests. Their final one was for a camping spot close to the toilet block so I visited the camp-site and placed a reserved sign accordingly. They telephoned me shortly after their arrival the next day with one further and final request; the telephone number of one of our accommodation providers because they’d forgotten the poles to their tent!

The day begins.

We have built an excellent relationship with Pembrokeshire County Council, The National Park and the police over the years which really makes organising the event a delight. We naturally prepare for the worst weather and hope for the best and it’s a great relief a couple of days beforehand when we begin to feel confident that we’re not in for a storm. We held the event in June one year, everyone sunbathed on the day before the event and then endured a Force 8 gale and 40mm of rainfall throughout the ride. Fortunately, May seems to be consistently kinder to us.

By the day of the main event, all the arrangements have been made and we just want everyone to enjoy themselves and it’s very exciting meeting people as they arrive. The staff at Crug Glas are busy making breakfasts, marshals direct cyclists, friends meet up, new acquaintances are made, a few last minute repairs are carried out and there’s always someone who’s forgotten their helmet or rider pack. We’ve never had anyone who’s turned up without their bike but if we did, we cope and they’d get to ride.

Off We Go

I make a point of getting to the start-line with a cow-bell and my Welsh flag to wish everyone an enjoyable ride whilst Jim gives the safety briefing and John puts the riders into groups. I know all the routes inside out and often regret that I can’t hop on my bike and join in, especially when my children set off.

Dave in the course car and Mike the lead motorcyclist for the Paul Ties 106 Mile Route will be first to leave and they soon start calling in to confirm our arrangements are going to plan.

I wander back to HQ where Elizabeth is giving the marshals their packs and ‘new boy’ Scott, from Crys Melin Cycling, is checking the radios and up-dating the maps with volunteers’ names as they confirm they’re in position.

In what seems like no time at all, we hear from Andy at the Little Haven feed-station who announces that the first riders have pulled in and by 11.00hrs as the last Paul Sartori 24 mile riders depart the girls on Registration, Helen my wife, Eleri (Treginnis Farms for City Children) and Judith (Prostate Cymru) get time to catch their breath.

The day unfolds.

At Central Control, it’s never long after the start before we receive a call from a rider requesting assistance. We instruct Joe, Adrian or one of the other roaming technicians to attend and as the day unfolds the calls become more frequent.

Unfortunately one rider has fallen off his bike and Sian (DPJ Foundation) takes him to the Casualty Department at Withybush Hospital for a check-up. We’re relieved when they return and he’s OK.

We have a particular way of managing breakdowns which works really well, it’s predicated on the basis that there’s nothing we can’t fix which we learned when we were the Official Bike Partner of IRONMAN UK.

The chain-set shown here is an example, zip-tied together by Dave in the Course Car!

‘New boy’ Scott copes superbly with the day, managing the calls, updating the map, and issuing instructions, it’s clear that he’s enjoying himself and it’s great for the event to have someone with the necessary can-do attitude on-board.

We discuss certain issues before deciding on the best solution and we make notes to ensure we’re continually refining our procedures to try and improve our performance year on year.

Party Time

We’re aware of riders returning and we can hear Huw commentating on the finish-line with his inimitable humour; “shwmae boys, you’re the first riders back (long pause) wearing orange jerseys anyway!”

Pure West Radio, our Digital Media Partners, are broadcasting a live programme and they team up with Honey Fungus, one of our favourite bands, who really compliment the atmosphere in the gardens at Crug Glas.Β  Phil (ATC) hands out Welsh cakes to those assembled on the lawns and Griff uses the opportunity to capture the moment.

We’re informed by Mike from Results Base that the Continental Tyres Hill Climb is going well.Β  Clive and Mark are at the start of The Paul Ties 106 and Bullfinch Cycles 84 and Helen and Jeff are covering the Lloyds Volvo 57.Β  We had to move the hill climb this year because of storm damage to the Stop and Call hill in Goodwick and feed-back is that the new venue is iconic.

Blasus Iawn

Dan from Treginnis Farms for City Children is out on the course collecting leftover food and equipment from the feed-stations. The last riders have passed through Little Haven (RNLI), Wolfscastle (villagers) and Maenclochog (villagers and Whitland ATC) and there’s a really great atmosphere at Bluestone Brewery (volunteers and Haverfordwest ATC) where Jennifer and Matt are conducting live video interviews.

People at our new feed-station at the Ocean Lab in Goodwick (County Councillors and local scouts) have enjoyed listening to the Puffin Brass Band and Samba Doc are encouraging riders up Mathry Hill (Fishguard and Goodwick RNLI) as they get closer to the finish.

Bluestone Brewery is closed by David who accompanied by Jim rides home with the last group followed by Jerry and Dave (Paul Sartori) who are collecting the signage.

Thanks to everyone involved, you make it so much fun.

Toni and Ruth (Paul Sartori) work tirelessly on the finish line congratulating riders as they return and presenting them with their commemorative coaster made from locally grown and sustainable willow (MH Woodlands) and engraved by Lisa (Little Wooden Workshop).

Dyfed Powys Police return to tell us the event’s gone very well and as the last riders return we commence with packing up. By 20.00hrs everything is put away and we wander into the Cow Shed to find Janet and enjoy some of her delicious food whilst we wait for Dave and Fiona to return in the Course Car.

As another successful event comes to an end, our thoughts turn to the next day and a trip to Ramsey Island for some of our volunteers which we’ve arranged with our Adventure Partner, Falcon Boats.

The feedback makes it all worthwhile, thank you.

Mark Colbourne MBE, Paralympic Gold Medalist.

Probably the best Sportive in the world

Probably the best Sportive in the world…. best hills, most hillls, lush hills, and a lot more hills, best feed stations, best location and best weather! I will be back baby! Iestyn Foster

Simply the best day out on the calendar.

Tour of Pembs you never disappoint, thank you once again for an incredible event 84 sweet hilly miles. Please thank your lovely marshals and the ATC. The feed-stations are second to none and the views unrivalled. We love it, simply the best day out on the calendar. Certainly slept well last night. Thank you.  Donna Bradley 

If Carlsberg did sportives

4th year in a row, did the 52 this year, the 80 last year and longest ones previous two years! Loved every single one of them! Best sportive with fabulous organisation, friendly marshals, delicious feed station offerings and the Samba Doc band to help motivate your tired legs near the end!  -If Carlsberg did sportives…….!!! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ  Thanks everyone and see you next year for number 5!!  Stephanie Waring 

Fantastic local support.

First time in this event and this part of the Country! A fantastic day on what I had to keep reminding myself wasn’t closed roads we saw so few cars on the route. Great feed stops (the brewery especially πŸ˜‰) and fantastic local support. Hope to be back and make a full weekend end of it next time. Mark Nicholls

Epic!

So little traffic it could have been a closed road event, something one had to remind oneself of more than once through the day.

Of the many sportives I’ve ridden this comes out top, especially for the high standard of marshalling and signage. Robert Holland  

Thank you to the marshals

Thank you to the marshals and all of the people providing food at the feed-stations including the young people from the ATC. Really, really, awesome. Such a sense of achievement from completing such a brutal course. Thanks Tour of Pembrokeshire Matt Phillips 

Superb event as always!

Superb event as always! The best there is! Katherine Devonald Brace

Fantastic event

I have done quite a few sportives and can honestly say the Tour of Pembrokeshire was without doubt the best one I’ve done (apart from the hills πŸ˜‚). Well signposted and marshalled who deserve a massive pat on the back for their contribution to what was a fantastic event. Even the weather was kind to us.  Many thanks to all. Ian Irwin

Many thanks for a great day

As a Tour of Pembs virgin, I loved every hilly mile 🀣🀣😩😩 my two Tenby Aces cycling buddies sang as we climbed!!  Food stations were every bit as superb as I’d been told – what a feast, marshals friendly, happy and encouraging, traffic to a minimum and best of all weather perfect for such an event! Many thanks for a great day.  Ceris Hewlings 

Best event of the year

What an event !! Wonderful route, fabulous marshals at every point and amazing food stations !!!! Best event of the year! πŸš²πŸ˜πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹Gwenllian Hughes

Once again absolutely awesome!

Once again absolutely awesome! Tough ride, but organised amazingly with marshals doing an awesome job of warning etc. and great signage! Feed stations the best on any sportive! Quality food to fuel up which I know is locally sourced, and plenty of it!  Even the weather yet again was perfect with the sun shining in time for a well deserved beer at the finish!!  TOP you never disappoint and amazing value for money!!  Thank you see you next year!❀️πŸ’ͺπŸ»πŸš²πŸ†πŸ˜Ž Julie Andrasko 

I had a great time.

Great event. Really well organised. Amazing scenery. Definitely a challenge. Hardly any traffic. A magnificent feed station. I nearly didn’t complete due to cleat failure but it was quickly sorted by the team (big thanks to Adrian of Bullfinch!) and I rode on to the finish where I was greeted by great support as I had been all around the course. Thanks to all involved. I had a great time.  Lee Jones

Brilliant marshalling

As always a great event. So well organised. Great food stations, brilliant marshalling and excellent hospitality at the end. Only one thing…it should be renamed The tour of Pembrokeshire’s hillsπŸ˜‚ Eirian Jones

Fantastic

Can’t think of a suggestion to make to improve this event. Fantastic, thanks.  Mathew Hillman 

First ever sportive at the age of 13

First ever sportive at the age of 13, absolutely loved it!  Will be back next year. Ollie Ryder

Fab marshalling topped by the best food

An awesome day of cycling, mountains, a beautiful lush green valley, an amazing coastal ride, fab marshalling topped by the best food!! Thank you Peter, Crug Glas & all the team, looking forward to next year already.  Diolch xx  Sharon Groom 

Definitely the best cycling event I’ve ridden.

The Tour of Pembrokeshire is definitely the best cycling event I’ve ridden.  From the superb setting at Crug Glas to the excellent support from all the volunteers and marshals, the whole day was a great experience. Really look forward to next year. Thanks.  Dean Miles 

Support and atmosphere was superb.

Haven’t done this event for a few years! It’s changed considerably!! So so well organised… the marshalling , feed stations, support and atmosphere was superb. Feel lucky to live here and have this on our doorstep! The best way to show off our beautiful surroundings!! Thank you! Xx  Ceri Dean 

Volunteers are brilliant.

Excellent ride and organisation as usual. The feed stations are the best and volunteers are brilliant. Done it 6 years in a row and will be definitely back next year!πŸ‘πŸ˜Š  Waseem Chaudhry 

Thank you, we hope to see you next year, Helen and Peter.