Suffolk Swarm 2017

Suffolk Swarm Andrew Culture
Photo by Epic Action Imagery

Suffolk Swarm – why…

Suffolk Swarm is one of my favourite sportives.  There are a healthy number of sportives in Suffolk but ‘Swarm’. organised by Cycle Swarm, is a bit different to any other organised ride I’ve been on.  For one thing it’s very reasonably priced.  When it comes to local sportives I object to paying more than £50 to ride the same roads I ride for free on a regular basis.  For a very modest entry fee of £19 the Swarm organisers gave us everything we needed for the ride and supported us well with marshals and whatnot.

To a small extent the cheaper ticket price for the Suffolk Swarm is reflected in the provisions laid on at the rest stops. I’ve ridden some expensive sportives that lay on huge amounts of very high quality food at rest stops.  On waddling into rest stops on other rides I’ve seen mountains of amazing food.  But to be honest the last thing I want on a massive bike ride is a bloated belly full of fine foods.  Cycle Swarm provide bananas, water, soft drinks, Haribo and even buttered scones at their rest stops.  That’s plenty for me.

The other reason I like Suffolk Swarm is the vibe.  Unlike some much larger sportives Swarm appears to be entirely devoid of the type of aggressive road trains that can be very intimidating to inexperienced riders.  Nobody gets grumpy if you tag onto their group for a little while.  The Swarm rides feel very inclusive.  These are also the only sportives where it’s fairly normal to see people riding something other than sleek road bikes.  I saw plenty of hybrids and mountain bikes.  In the nicest possible way I didn’t feel out of place on my ancient ASR* road bike.

Suffolk Swarm 2017

Suffolk Swarm – the need to ride and the damage done

Suffolk Swarm has three routes; 25, 50 and 100 miles.  I’ve ridden the 100 mile route a couple of times before, but haven’t been feeling too great about my cycling abilities this year (despite cycling to Antwerp) so opted for an ‘easy 50 miles’.

This attitude to assuming doing fifty miles would be easy may well have been my undoing on this ride.  I bombed out of the gate and rode hard for about the first twenty miles.  It was a mistake.  I didn’t wobble and struggle for the last few miles like I have in the past when I’ve blown my legs out early on a ride.  But the last few miles did feel more challenging than I thought they should.

The drawing at the top of this article shows my position for big chunks of the ride.  Fellow VeloBalls writer Sam was effortlessly bipping through the countryside, while I sucked down gels and fought to find his wheel.

But I very much doubt you’re interested in reading about my lacklustre cycling, so I’ll trouble you with the details no more.

Suffolk Swarm Andrew Culture
I look like I was poured into that lycra, but forgot to shout ‘when’

As I sat down to write this post about Suffolk Swarm I realised that I don’t actually have a great deal to say about the organisation.  For me that’s the very best thing I can say about the organisers of any sportive.  Good word Cycle Swarm!  I’m already looking forward to next year and hope to ride the Norfolk Swarm as well!

If you would like to see what Suffolk Swarm actually looks like have a watch of the video we made below.

Find out out more about Cycle Swarm…

Photos by Epic Action Imagery…

*always something rattling