Posted Monday 16th May 2011 –
Despite lots of road sportives taking place this weekend I opted to try something a bit different, leaving the road bike at home and taking the mountain bike out to ride the Bucks Off Road Sportive.
Starting at Denham just inside the M25 might not sound like the most promising venue for a mountain bike event but the ride quickly crosses over the M25 and heads into the Chilterns and you soon forget you’re anywhere near London.
A choice of three route options were on offer, 132km, 102km or 83km, so short compared to road sportive standards but not to be under estimated for an off road ride. The event started with a mass start which saw the 132km and 102km riders going off together at 9am and the riders on the shorter route heading off at 9:30am. The first road section and road climb ensured the riders got spread out before heading on to the start of off road sections.
The route consists of off road sections linked together by road sections as you head through the rolling Chiltern Hills. There’s nothing too technical, some fast descents and a few tricky loose surfaced climbs to contend and I saw at least a few tackling the course on cyclo cross bikes.
The weather started bright but seemed to cloud over more as the day went on and it seemed inevitably that we’d get wet at some point but thankfully it held off except for a few very brief spells.
I opted for the 83km distance, although with a couple of navigation errors I ended up riding just under 87km, and completed in a time of just over 4h 20 minutes.
Before reviewing the route profile captured by my Garmin above I was convinced the route was mainly downhill in the first half and up hill in the second. It turns out the high point of the route came at just after half distance and you were losing elevation all the way to the finish so it must have been tired legs that made it seem more hilly in the second half.
Route – A combination of off road sections linked by road sections around the Chiltern Hills. There’s no huge climbs but the steepness and loose surface on some made for plenty of challenges that had many riders off and walking. The ground was dry and very little sign of any mud which made it quite fast going for an off road ride, I can imagine it would be completely different in wet muddy conditions.
Signage – Small orange signs, they could have done with few more in some places but combined with the route directions and route map it wasn’t too much of a problem. I missed a couple of turns but realised these fairly quickly thanks to having the route on my gps. The numbered sections with the number appearing on some of the arrows helped keep a track of your location on the map and how far round you were.
Timing – With the mass start all riders got the same start time with finish times manually recorded as you crossed the finish.
Summary – If you’ve got a mountain bike or cyclo cross bike then the Bucks Off Road Sportive is definitely worth riding and gives a bit of variety from road sportives. The course takes in some picturesque rolling Chilterns countryside and the mass start helps give it a nice sense of occasion with 500 or so riders lining up for the start. Could maybe have done with a bit clearer course marking at a couple of junctions although this could have been down to signs being removed.
If you rode this event please let us know what you thought using the comments section below.