Posted Tuesday 8th May 2012 –
Last Sunday saw the first event in the Scott GB Sportive Series take place in the Surrey Hills starting from Albury, the weather wasn’t kind but despite that it sounds like riders enjoyed the challenging route. Here’s the organisers post event report on how the day went along with feedback from riders.
After listening to the weather forecast on Friday, it sounded as if the best day of the bank holiday weekend was going to be on Sunday – perfect timing for the LongLeg Sportive! The only problem was, someone didn’t tell the weather that. But this didn’t deter the riders. Just over 200 cyclists arrived to ride the 73k and 116k course – slightly longer than advertised due to last minute adjustments that had to be made due to flooded roads. Fortunately it wasn’t necessary to remove any of the climbs.
Starting from Albury Cricket Club in the heart of the Surrey Hills, both courses rolled out towards Hascombe and Hambledon via the picturesque villages and hamlets of The Surrey Hills. The first short climb wasn’t far away…Mare Lane – which was an introduction to what was coming… narrow, a little muddy and steep.
30kms in and on more rolling open roads, the first feed station and course split in Plaistow arrived. All were welcomed with homemade cake, water and energy drink. The cake proved to be very popular and the rocket fuel from GU Energy was enough to power everyone on to the next feed station.
The long course continued on into W. Sussex winding its way towards Bedham, the second climb of the morning. Longer and just as steep as the first, with a nasty switch back at the top and a few expletives were heard from some riders. Unless you stayed in the saddle, rear wheel spinning was the norm on the wet tarmac on such a steep gradient.
Meanwhile the short course made its way East towards Loxwood and then onto Rudgewick on smooth flat roads. After the second feed station, which all riders passed through, the biggest climb loomed. Bar Hatch Lane, probably the steepest climb in the Surrey Hills. The sign at the bottom said 21% – which would be steep enough if it were strictly true. So a long, slow, painful climb ensued by all. Some resorted to traversing the road, others powered and grinded straight up only to be caught out at the last. Going around the corner, riders were confronted by what could only be described as a wall. Garmin flashed 24%.
Before the long course riders got to this point, they had to climb Leith Hill – but not the usual way. The Tanhurst Lane climb took riders to a special place both within themselves and geographically. A cold, twisted, wet, narrow, dark and steep climb that made them contemplate on what it was all about. Cue more cursing. What some of them didn’t know was that Bar Hatch Lane was waiting in the wings!
Judging by the feedback and comments heard at the finish, the popularity of this Sportive will grow quickly.
“Well marked out and a friendly atmosphere” Dave Alllday
“Just wanted to say thank you for organising a great event. The route was excellent, and it was really good to have hazards such as main roads and steep descents pointed out on the signs. Everyone was really friendly and helpful. The food was very good too. Well done.” Blaithin Hamill
One rider was heard to say “I’ve ridden around here for years but I was riding on roads and up hills I didn’t know existed! It was epic!” Another said “that course was the toughest I’ve ever ridden around here. There was no respite. You couldn’t get into a rhythm until the last mile!”
The organizers have lived in the Surrey Hills all their lives and know its intricacies inside out. They have turned their back on what is perhaps considered to be the standard sportive and offered something different. One for the “must do” list but be warned: not for the faint hearted!