The Essex 100 Bike Ride is organised by Action Medical Research and is one in a series of bike rides put on to raise money for this charity. The Essex 100 starts and finishes in Central Park in Chelmsford and takes in the beautiful scenery and quiet country lanes of rural north Essex.
There are three distances to choose from - 101 miles, 60 miles, or 40 miles - and all participants receive a finisher's medal. I decided to sign up for the 60-mile ride as part of my preparation for next year's Prudential RideLondon event which is 100 miles. I decided that if I could survive 60 miles in the saddle and finish with a smile on my face, I could survive 100 miles.
From start to finish, this event was incredibly well organised. The pre-event race information emailed to each competitor contained all information needed and there was free event parking which was a nice touch. The registration process was very smooth and so quick that before I knew it, I was listening to the race brief and heading out onto the road.
The route was excellently executed and planned very well. Signage was very clear and at no point did I worry that I'd gone the wrong way, even without other cyclists around to assure me. Most of the roads were traffic-free as they were such small and unused country lanes and this made for some very effortless cycling and gave me the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.
There were a few hairy moments, such as a long stretch of road with loose gravel and some sharp bends and steep descents, but for most cyclists this would be standard practice. Even coming back into busy central Chelmsford was fairly uneventful, despite the traffic.
I'd also say this ride was quite 'easy' (as easy as spending 4 hours on a bike can be) due to the gentle elevation profile. There weren't any big climbs but I would definitely say the route is undulating - I was shifting gears every few minutes to accommodate for the continuous ups and downs. I'd certainly say that this route is beginner-friendly and any cyclist would be able to complete it.
The only thing I would say about this ride compared to the other sportives I've done is that because there weren't that many participants, it got a little lonely out there! I spent most of the course by myself whereas in other rides I've had a constant stream of other cyclists around me. This wasn't something I minded though.
This ride was hugely enjoyable and from start to finish it was very obvious how well organised and friendly it was. The feed zones/rest stops were very well placed and there was ample opportunity to sit down, rest, use the facilities, and fill up water bottles and refuel. Everyone taking part was in very good spirits and I would definitely recommend this event to others.