Posted Tuesday 17th May 2011 –
Last weekend saw the inaugural LongLeg Sportive take place in the Surrey Hills. Two courses were on offer, the 100k medium and 65k short, with the HQ being on Albury Cricket Pitch, one of the most beautiful spots in the area.
Last weekend was a busy one in the south-east sportive calendar, with already three other south east events to choose from it was with a mixture of anxiety and throwing caution to the wind that led to event organisers, allabouttriathlons, to hold their first sportive in the Surrey Hills, their own back yard. They say fortune favours the brave….and it looks like it did.
Event director Rory Macpherson said “My brother and I have grown up in these hills and have been cycling on and off them for over 30 years. I thought we could offer something a little different to the usual routes that riders follow. If the feedback we’ve had so far is to be believed, mission accomplished!”
Both the 1q22wesdx100km and 65km started at 9am but 25 minutes earlier Angus Macpherson and an advanced guard of the riders, set off to ensure arrows still pointed in the right direction or had not been removed – luckily he did as unfortunately someone had decided to remove arrows and attempt to spoil the event which seems to be becoming an all too common issue for sportive organisers.
Meanwhile back at the start, as soon as riders checked in their electronic time card, the clock started ticking, the bike cogs started turning and they headed off to complete their chosen distance.
Although the event doesn’t offer the epic distance of other cycle sportives, the Surrey Hills always promises a challenging ride whatever the distance. Both LongLeg routes proved this to be the case with only a handful managing to get gold standard time on the 100km and no one achieving gold on the 65km.
Rolling hills in classic Surrey countryside perhaps lulled people into a false sense of security. Above average speed was being achieved by most on a still, warm day, although some of the road surfaces put paid to that as in places they deteriorated to an extent that allowed cyclists to sample their very own Strada Bianche – which just happened to take place on the same day in Italy!
Not many stopped at the first feed station with it was only being 22km in, although that’s something many probably regretted after stopping at the second to sample the cakes on offer. Local cake baker Debbie Nicholas supplied cakes on which Toby Jenkins, allabouttriathlons event director commented “I think we may have just raised the bar for feedstations! I knew they would be good but I’ve never seen a post cake reaction like that before” and “Mmmmmm” with a look of sheer pleasure on her face was all that one 100k sportive rider could say.
In a heady atmosphere of anxiety and intrepidation, the 100k headed off towards the base of the lesser known climb up Leith Hill, whilst the 65k riders headed towards Winterfold. Signs greeting cyclists at the bottom of both hills confirmed their fears. Tanhurst Lane: 18%. Bar Hatch Lane: 21%. While the 65k had to deal with Bar Hatch Lane only, the 100k would do both. But the omnipresent motorbike safety marshals supplied by NEG were certainly a comfort to most. All made it home safely and all with big smiles – made even bigger by the offer of more of that cake!
With the first sportive now under their belts it looks like it should only grow in popularity due to its challenging courses and slick organization but most of all due to the most important sportive element, great cakes!
Photos supplied by Sussex Sport Photography.