Courtesy of Andy Flint

Having enjoyed a pleasant Saturday catching up with the gardening, sun shining on my neatly trimmed lawn, I looked at the weather forecast for the big day and decided the early start from Redbourn (06.45) didn’t look like an attractive option!  Tom Tichler and I therefore reviewed our plan and Mrs T came to the rescue – a lift was arranged for 07.30 to drop us at the start.

I awoke to the predicted wet n windy day, downed my porridge and set forth with Tom and Mrs T to Bovingdon.  As we approached the traffic stalled, why does every Sportive have a long queue for the car park?!  Seeing the Mount prison to our right we took the plunge, pulled over and jumped on the saddle, allowing Mrs T to turn abruptly and run – gladly the authorities didn’t ask us to step inside!

We arrived at the start ahead of the Medio Fondo depart, met with Nigel Swift and Paul Hodgeson (who just made it given the queue for the car park) and took to the course with the sound of the hooter... Let’s do this, bring on the hills!

Underway, immediately the main story of the ride was unfolding. Puncture carnage was the order of the day, with cyclists at every turn, wheels off or pumping madly!  Fortunately, we didn’t incur the puncture demon but many, many and I mean many did, including Christine Pout who we were somewhat surprised to overtake at one point later on in the ride.  Turns out she suffered 4 punctures doing the Grand Fondo!

Just out of Bovingdon we hit Ley Hill, a teasing, cheeky warmer ahead of the serious ones to follow. The route then wound its way to Berkhamsted and on past Ashridge Management centre, up Pedley Hill and down Dagnall to take us to the bottom of Bison for our first real test of the day.  Driving our legs hard we summitted at the zoo and with a wave to the penguins pressed on to what felt like a gentle climb up and over Dunstable Downs!  Next came Ivinghoe Beacon and then on down Tom’s Hill, sharp left at Aldbury and across and up (and up!) to Wiggington.

There we got a warm welcome from Bob Bone and the VCC crew who were braving the weather to provide the comforts of home - well, some toilets, food, water and what appeared to be the busiest bike mechanic in the world!

From Wiggington (by the way it’s still raining and blowing a hooly) we set our sites for the, to us, lesser known parts of the route, always with the knowledge of the Whiteleaf and Wardrobes double wammy to come. The route wends its way to Wendover, for once we benefit from the downhill on Aston, through the town and on to the said climbs.  Passing a sign to Whiteleaf on our left and pressing on, thoughts that the climb had been removed from the route abound.  The sense of relief is only momentary however, as at the next left we are signed to Whiteleaf and the road ahead is only one way... up! Whiteleaf cannot be described in any other way than hard!  It goes on and then on, and then on again and always up!  Taking a short stop at the top we turned right and headed straight down in full knowledge that on the Chiltern 100 down means up... Wardrobes duly arrived.  Not as steep, nor as long but with the steepest section at the 90 degree left turn which happens to be a T junction, it’s a case of swing out wide and hope a milk float (or similar electric vehicle) isn’t heading our way as looking up isn’t feasible, so it’s the ears that make the decision to press on!

Safely manoeuvred, we press on and in a short while the green signs of the Medio Fondo course divert us away from more hills (and pain) with a cut through to North Dean and the welcome of our VCC friends lead diligently by Andy Rice.  More water and food on board (and some sausage rolls too, the left-over’s of Mr Rice’s 60th birthday celebrations from the night before!) we set our sights for the finish. 

‘Just’ doing the Medio meant we missed the extra 30 miles and the further serious ups and downs of this challenging ride and meant we also missed meeting with more of our VCC chums, lead by the ever resourceful Andrew Boetius at Chinnor.  I hear this was an equally well run stop, even if it did require one plumber, one builder, one engineer and one (not so handy) accountant to get the pump working for the water!

Our route then headed up through Speen, down and across to Great Missenden – a fast stretch that leads on to another climb, up and then down to Chesham with a final climb out of Chesham that isn’t for the faint hearted!

Finding myself overtaken by a huge guy in bright orange (I thought I had finally seen the sun!) pounding along into Chesham, I had a sneaky feeling I would see him again soon!  Sure enough, as we worked our legs on the climb out of Chesham sunny big fella came back to me!  I can only admire his effort, and some effort it was that he was putting in, given I was feeling it and regretting not losing that half stone I have been seeking to shift since the start of the year!

Topping out, it was heads down for Bovingdon and a ride across the line to collect my medal which is my sole reason for cycling Sportives – can’t beat getting a medal!!

Shaking hands with the members of team Tichler, Nigel and Paul made their way to their cars whilst Tom and I decided the aerodrome was not a place to relax and reminisce, after all, the wind and rain was still hammering down.  So, we made a quick getaway cycling to Hemel where Costa ‘hit the spot’!  From there, we enjoyed the late summer sunshine that finally arrived as we made our way across country home.

The Chiltern 100 remains a true sporting challenge and lives up to its billing as "the toughest sportive close to the capital". Bring on 2016!

 

Report by Andy Flint

The Mitie London Revolution is the largest multi-day sportive in the UK. Riders of all abilities take on the iconic 185 mile loop around the capital with many staying at the overnight camp at the halfway point, Ascot race course.

This year the route took a clockwise direction, last year it went anti-clockwise, heading South from Lee Valley Athletics Centre through Central London early Saturday morning rather than Sunday afternoon.  Whilst this made for a clearer and safer experience the first 10 miles still took over an hour – London roads are never quiet and the numerous traffic light controls resulted in a somewhat frustrating stop, start experience for everyone. However, London sights as the morning sun shone through made a pleasant distraction.  After clearing the City and crossing the river by way of the iconic Tower Bridge, we headed out into the stunning climbs and descents of the North Downs before heading west towards Windsor Great Park and the overnight camp, just off Wentworth Golf Course!

Having collected our bags, shipped from the start to Ascot (and shipped back for us on Day 2), the overnight stop delivers individual tents (which offer plenty of room), a recovery chocolate shake, a sleeping mat, posh showers, and of course some porta-loos - for that handy, night-time, must go experience!  The venue also offered multiple bars (indoors and outside), a chill out area (chairs and bean bags), charging facilities (for mobile phones and Garmins), proper toilets, great food, and even a place to meet the Dulux dog (Dulux trade were one of the sponsors (see pic)!

It was whilst chilling out that we noticed another VCC jersey seemingly resting up and when we looked closer discovered it was Mike Large talking to the medic!  It turned out that Mike had gone to do some yoga lessons (another option at the overnight stop) had laid down to participate only to discover some painful abrasions on his arm and thigh.  He had no idea how these had got there but Mr Medic could see some bruising to Mike’s head and concluded he had taken a fall and been knocked out!  Mike had clearly managed to cycle the entire day 1 route and had no memory of any fall, but did recall being confused at one point and having to call the help line to get directions!!  Mike was taken off to A&E having made arrangements to be collected and we were left wondering what had happened?!

After a welcome rest (aided by wearing my fleece in my sleeping bag, as the temperature dropped in the early hours – and not so aided by the Ascot scene driving their supercars past the racecourse at 2.00 in the morning) we got back in the saddle for the shorter (but more sharply hilly) day back to the start via the Chiltern Hills - that is one hell of a hill out of Princes Risborough!!

Taking our second pit stop at the Butterfly centre, Chiswell Green, two gents (riding for Team Dulux trade) recognizing Tom’s VCC Jersey started recounting how they had been riding on the previous day and had seen this fella wearing a VCC jersey almost miss a turn, take a last minute decision to turn and, breaking, gone down hard on the gravel.  Apparently, Mike hit the road head first - which explains a lot, including the smashed helmet (and black out)! They had picked Mike up who had confirmed he was OK (presumably his helmet was still in some shape on his head?!) and cycled with him for the next 3 miles  to reassure themselves that he was fit to ride…
One of the Gents gave me his details and Mike has since spoken with him since, so Mike now knows what happened!  Another great example of why we all must wear helmets!

Day two, whilst shorter, was no less easier and having been joined by Dayle (who we failed to find at the start on day one) we made good progress (thanks to some sterling Dayle riding on the front!) back to our destination at Lee Valley Athletics Centre.

This fully signposted route is a great challenge, suitable for those who are up for a tough yet do-able Sportive, as well as for those training for longer distance, multi-day endurance events.  Kirk, Tom, Dayle, Andrew Hunt and I (and Mike for a day!) had a thoroughly good weekend and yes, I’d do it again!

The route :

Andy Flint reports...

Andrew Hunt, Nigel Swift and I took on the London Cycle Sportive, 100 miles of capital city cycling fun!  The London Cycle Sportive takes in some important landmarks from London’s Olympic history including a unique finish on the 1948 Olympic Velodrome at Herne Hill.

The ride starts from the picturesque Dulwich Park, just a stone’s throw away from the iconic finish at the Velodrome, and the route goes out to the stunning Surrey Hills taking in Box Hill, which is decidedly the easiest of the climbs!

Having decided to stay overnight in Crystal Palace ahead of the ride, Andrew Hunt and I survived a rather dodgy New York Diner and an even dodgier hotel (better equipped for asylum seekers than cyclists, we both had rooms with bunk beds!) and met Nigel at the start to wend our way out of South London into the Countryside.  Blest with perfect weather we enjoyed a pleasurable if challenging ride - having done this one last year, I'd forgotten it includs a number of quite demanding hills!  Box hill came at the 80 mile mark and being timed, we went for it, Andy Hunt sneaking me by 1 second to the top!  A nine minute spin (9mins 17 seconds to be precise) was actually a 'pleasant' part of the ride.  The whole thing was topped off with a dash around the Herne Hill Velodrome, which it is pleasing to report is staring to look like it has a future rather than just a past these days.

If you are looking for a Sportive in London this one comes highly recommended.