Thursday, 4 February 2010

Kevin's Ashdown Report

This was only my second sportive and it lived up to its reputation as a pretty tough ride! With over 2000 metres of climbing this was definitely not a ride to be attempted without doing a bit of training before hand….
As the Thornton 6 rolled over the start line it was still -1C, although the weather forecast promised that later in the day it would reach a positively balmy +2C!
The hills were certainly challenging but it was difficult to maintain a consistently decent pace in the (brief) flat sections over the first 20 odd miles because of the icy conditions. However, the views were magnificent especially at the top of The Wall with views over Ashdown forest.
The second half of the ride followed a route that continued up and down over hills to numerous to count. The sting in the tail of the route was the last nasty climb up Star Hill a few miles before the end, by which time I’d definitely had enough hills for one weekend!
The route was well marshalled and sign posted with two well stocked drinks stops en route.
However, in my opinion the course wasn’t a good one given the conditions. A number of the roads would be considered poor quality at the best of times - lots of pot holes and lose gritty surfaces. With the added ice on blind corners at the bottom of descents they were positively dangerous. One bit amused me; a sign said "Police - Ice On Road - Road Closed". Next to it was a Hell Of Ashdown Sportive sign telling us to keep cycling! I’ve no idea how Bob managed to stay upright for the entire route, he must have the balance of a trapeze artist!
Although I did enjoy the ride (in a masochistic way), I would have to think twice about doing this one again. The hills wouldn’t necessarily put me off, but the poor choice of roads and ice would.
On the plus side, the thought of the Hell of Ashdown ride at the end of January is certainly good motivation to keep up the riding over the winter months prior to the event.