After going on and on about the Ronde Van Calderdale I didn’t think anything could really come close, especially given some of the Yorkshire sportives I’ve taken part in over the last 2 years.
I was pleasantly surprised none the less, the course had 17 off road sections on the course, bridal paths, wood land and gravel tracks – tough work for any skilled rider. Now obviously I was going to take the bike best fit for these kind of conditions? Yep, you guess right, the Scott CR1 Pro with 50mm deep carbon clinchers!
We met a few others riders at workshop coffee for a pre-ride caffeine fix before we headed out for 8:30AM. I have to say even at this point I was such a oleaginous rambler. Given my usual chip on the shoulder about London I was being smug to the other riders about how I’d imagined this ride being as flat as a pancake with probably flat dusty bridal paths… Nothing compared to the pain experienced on the RVC etc.
We rocked up for about 9:10 to find a row of cyclist yobs ready to take anything Rapha threw at them! Although a little cold when I set off the sun was out and it was looking like a it had the potential to be a a beautiful day. Once signed in we were given a map of the route and a small woven badge, to add to my swim towel at home obviously? There was about 10 of us in total, all pretty strong riders and keen to get stuck in.
My first surprise was the amount of ‘casual’ cyclists that turned up. I suppose with a free event you’re probably going to get a full spectrum of folk turning up, and I by no means want to sound snobby but some riders had very little riding etiquette and some bikes looked and sounded unfit for road use!
Set of from the start in small groups of 15/20 we began making our way out of London. Bloody heck what a lot of lights there are, constantly stop starting for the first few miles!
One of the best things about the ride was the company, meeting new people and riding with old friends. A pleasent reminder of one of the main aspects as to why we ride our bikes.
The route was a well planned, clearly sign posted with quite back roads followed by tricky and technical off road sections.
Some of the off road sections were incredibly technical, almost unridable in some cases. The wood land parts were probably the most technical, however there were some more technical ‘Farmer roads’ where every inch of road was covered in pot holes.
Along the way there were some very slight causalities, those that had made a gallent attempt at some rough rooted wood land parts and had fallen off etc, some that also suffered flats – 2 or 3 at that!
I managed pretty much all of the path’s baring one, a deep gravel track where I very much doubt anyone without 32+ tyres could get up! I did how ever get a flat just after one of the most complicated off road sections near Hatfield however it luckily happened right beside a pub so the rest of the riders were fairly happy to wait!
What really made the ride for me was the food stop just over half way into the journey. The Welwyn City Velodrome, one lap before the food stop !