Woodcote Chilterns Classic Preview


Posted Tuesday 30th July 2013 –

Southern Sportive’s next event, the Woodcote Chilterns Classic, takes place on August 18th from Woodcote, just north of Reading on the Berkshire/Oxfordshire border. It’s a seventh outing for the 500 rider event which was first run in 2007. The route provides an excellently varied ride, that takes you on a tour along the Thames Valley, through the Goring Gap by the banks of the river and up into the south Chilterns! The route takes you from intricate lanes and steep, wooded Thames-side climbs, to the broad, open sweeps below the Oxfordshire Ridgeway. Variously fast & flowing with some calf burning climbs, but always inspiringly scenic, this is a rewarding ride in every sense.

The course rolls out easily for the first few miles from the event start, through wooded lanes that take you down almost to the river at Whitchurch, where a sharp right delivers you onto your first trip into the red for the day, straight up the formidable Whitchurch Hill. From here it’s west, crossing the Thames at picturesque Goring and turning south at Streatley. For the next 30 or so miles, you’ll be exploring West Berkshire’s rolling Quiet Lane network, roads designated as such for their beauty and tranquility. Then there’s a hike back up to the ridge and a wake up call in the form of the searing descent of Streatley hill.

Riders crossing the Thames at Goring, as an early morning mist comes off the river.

The route turns north from here, crossing back across the Thames below Wallingford and pointing towards the choppier terrain of the south Chilterns, more familiar to Woodcote veterans. A stiff climb of Garsons Hill false summits before the last drag to the courses high point at Cookley Green, before a drop into the Oxfordshire plain gives you a chance for a breather. What goes down though, must come back up, and Britwell Hill is a test equal to Whitchurch; higher, and at the sharp end of the course too!

This brings you to the final act. Enjoy the excellent descent from Stonor, but remember that this course started high. The final miles are stubborn, kicking you up sharply twice and undulating constantly to stretch you all the way to the finish.

The route choices come in three flavours as usual; short and mid total 86 & 103km respectively, with the full course weighing in at 136km with 1,827m of height gain.

A great route is just part of the picture though: there is great organisation and support on hand too. 20 years of experience from the Southern Sportive team goes into running an event that features first class route marking to keep you on track: over 500 signs will be in place to point the way (and, flying the flag for responsible event management, Southern Sportive guarantee that every single sign will be cleared from the course within two days of the event). You get map and GPS back up options too, well spaced and well stocked feed and support stations, motorbike marshals on route checking and support duties, instant rider timing at the finish and on site catering pre and post ride. Reading based AW Cycles will also be on hand to provide mechanical and essential sales support, both at base and out on the course.

It’s a spectacular day out on the bike, and great value at just £20 for the full course (less for the shorter options)! Rider photography from Tim Redgrove will be on sale via the Southern Sportive website too, with download options starting from just £1, and all profits being donated to charity.

You can find full details and entry at southernsportive.com