Today was the Cycling Weekly 125 Sportive. A 125 mile ride round the beautiful Cheshire countryside, including the ascent of Mow Cop and as many circuits of the Oulton Park race track as you wanted. It’s one of my target rides this year as it will be the longest I’ve ever ridden and at the time I booked it, quite a daunting challenge!
I was up bright and early and at Oulton Park for just after 6:30am as with the longer mileage today I wanted to get off in the very first group of riders at 7:15am as you had to be back at 5:30pm at the latest and I did not want to rush at feed stops etc etc as I like the social aspect of the ride and meeting cyclists from all over.
Once registered, I had a quick cup of coffee by blagging at the cafe as it was not yet officially open. Then it was off to the start line with the first group of riders. The start was on the start grid for the motor racing that normally goes on here. A very nice touch!
We started with a lap of the 2.7 mile circuit to warm our legs up before heading out onto the lanes of Cheshire.
The terrain started almost straight away as the route headed for the Helsby hills. This was a feature that persisted throughout the day with the organisers taking full advantage of every little bit of elevation Cheshire has to offer (it’s definitely not flat everywhere!).
I was in a big group of strong riders along this section and we made really good progress.
After zig-zagging our way up the back of the Helsby hills we arrived at the first feed station at Duddon, near Chester. I was not going to stop here as it was only about 25 miles into the ride but needed to top up on water so made a quick stop. I did get chatting to the lovely lady in charge and spent a bit too long chatting!
I’d bought some new Aftershokz Trekz Titatnium bone conducting headphones during the week so I could listen to music and podcasts on long rides whilst also being able to hear traffic etc etc. A bit of a weird sensation at first but you soon get used to it. I thought I’d try them out after the feed stop and had a great time riding down to the next feed stop at Farndon on the Welsh border, listening to some metal and some modern country – Kane Brown and Stone Sour to be exact!. With I’d bought these sooner – they are really good!
Heading back towards the Peckforton Hills, we were soon passing the Cholmondeley Estate, where the Tough Mudder race was being held today. Not quite sure on the details of what is involved but I do know a lot of mud crawling is part of it and where the route crossed the lane I was on, I saw tons of runners covered literally head to toe in thick mud. Each to their own, but I think I’ll stick with cycling thank you very much!
At the third feed stop at Wrenbury (weird feeling as this is often somewhere I ride past on rides from home) I got chatting with some guys from Liverpool and some from the Peak District and so we all set off in convoy for Mow Cop, via Audlem, Wybunbury and Alsager.
As we approached Mow Cop we all slowed down, preparing ourselves for the killer mile. We arrived at the start of Mow Cop on 97 miles – this is going to be interesting!
After the climb, we were rewarded with amazing views from the road along the top of the hill. You could see all over Cheshire, most of the places we’d just ridden and even Liverpool and Manchester city centres in the distance. Almost makes the climb worthwhile ;-).
The fourth and final feed stop was at the side of Congleton at the foot of the hill and I stopped to top up with water and have some more of the yummy cheese and marmite pastries my lovely wife had made for my ride today. Perfect fuel and ensured my legs were feeling fabulous for the whole ride.
The ride back to Oulton Park was uneventful apart from a brief torrential rain shower in, of all places, Wettenhall. It certainly lived up to its name – we were soaked!
Back at Outlon Park most people were going straight to their cars and home but I could not resist the timed lap of the circuit as I’d enjoyed riding it so much earlier this morning. I’m not going to break any records and certainly not get KOM but I’ll enjoy it. As it turned out, I had the whole track to myself and stopped to get some photos of my bike with the circuit in the background part way round. Not often you get to do that!
In summary, an amazing day out on the bike once again. Gorgeous route, great organisation, pretty decent weather (apart from the strong wind) and a fabulous venue. Loved it!
Route: click here