The Burgess Hill Rumble is the latest sportive to join the growing list of UK events, and offers up three challenging rides that culminate with a 95mile ride around the Sussex, and occasionally Kent, countryside. The inaugural event took place on Sunday 31 August.
The organisers, SRS Events, placed their new event on the last day of the summer and offered riders a choice of three distances: the 20mile (33k) ‘Tour’, a 65mile (105km) ‘Challenge’ and the ‘Classic’, the longest at 95miles (153km).
RCUK went along and rode the Classic, which follows a route starting from Burgess Hill and wends its way over the lumps and dips of the South and North Downs, with much altitude gain peaking with the tortuous climbs of Kidds Hill and later, when the route nips over into Kent, up Yorks Hill and Toys Hill. As routes go, it’s a good one, wisely opting for less busy roads where possible, surrounded by beautiful countryside and the four feed stops were well placed to provide fueling when needed.
Unfortunately, the weather decided to take a considerable turn for the worse and the brave riders who made the journey for the early start were greeted with an horrendous thunderstorm of epic proportions, the rain coming down in buckets and continued in this vein for the first couple of hours of the ride, gradually petering out as midday came and went. The sun would make itself known, but not until much later in the ride, and by then all were completely soaked through to the skin.
For the riders though, the weather was the least of their worries. The organisation was lacklustre, with a slow sign-on process, non-existent start and almost certainly nothing in the way of any finish, and no timing chips. Route signage was excellent though, and the provided GPS routes made navigating a breeze – a few marshals at several key junctions would have been nice however. With the huge number of sportive events on the calendar and the high standard of organisation that RCUK has come to expect from the many that the team have ridden, the Burgess Hill Rumble organisers desperately need to raise their game if their hopes of the event cementing itself firmly on the sportive calendar in the future are to be realised.
As it was, there was little that separated the Rumble as an ‘event’ from an informal ride, aside from the feed stations. With so many events vying for riders’ money and time, some essential changes will need to be made if it’s to continue into 2009. This is a shame, because this could so easily have been an event to be remembered fondly by those who, despite the weather, made the effort.