Today was the Cycling Weekly Malvern Madhatter, a 100 mile ride round the Malvern hills in Worcestershire, dipping into Herefordshire twice. The route looked pretty hilly and a great warm up to the very hilly Box Hill Original next weekend in the Surrey Hills.
I drove down the night before and stayed overnight in Malvern. By co-incidence I noticed the UK Cycling Events van’s in the corner of the hotel car park, so knew the event organisers were staying there too.
After a reasonable night’s sleep, I was up at 6:15am for the 25 minute drive to the event HQ in a country estate just outside Ledbury. It took a while to get in and get parked as it was a narrow lane in.
Once I’d registered I opted to not hang around and get to the start line as soon as I could. I was soon off and on my way.
Unusually the Epic route split off the Short and Standard routes after less than half a mile and then looped round the south Hereforshire area to the far side of the M50 for 50 or so miles before joining up with the other routes at the top of a very sharp climb up the side of the Malvern Hills – ouch!
On the way I was caught up with by a guy who said he was from Market Drayton, had passed me going the other way on our Wednesday ride to Jodrell Bank and could he join me on the ride. I’m always happy for company on rides and was thinking the Epic course was a bit sparse with other riders so happily agreed. It turned out he was also a member of the Audlem Cycling Club and had ridden with the Newport club a few days ago too. Nice to meet you Chris!
After a short section along the side of the Malvern Hills, we headed down the hill towards Worcester and the flat(ish) area to the north of Malvern. On the way we passed Blackmore Caravan Park, a place I remembered enjoying when I was about 6 and went on my last caravan holiday with my Mum before she sadly died. Great memories though :). I’ve got a lovely video of it at home that my Dad did on his Super 8 camera.
The second feed stop was nearly missed as it was down this tiny track behind houses and had it not been for a friendly marshall ushering riders in there we’d have probably totally missed it and ridden right past.
After the second feed stop the terrain kicked up considerably towards Bromyard with many undulations and longer climbs. Really lovely countryside though, with hop houses and fields of hops, for which this area of Herefordshire is known.
After the hills relented we arrived at the third and final food stop and were delighted to see they were serving tea and coffee. Very much welcome as it had been a cold and pretty wet ride so far.
From there it was an easy ride back towards the Malvern Hills before the killer climb of the day – a long and steep ascent back up the Malvern Hills. This came at 88 miles and was a bit of a test, but very satisfying to crest out having done it.
From here it was an easy ride along the side of the hills (with fab views back to where we had just ridden) and then down onto the undulating area to the south and the event HQ finish line.
We arrived back 3.5 miles short of the 100 so carried on past the finish line turning for 1.7 miles and then turn round and returned to finish on 100.5 miles (we did the extra just in case Strava rounded down the total to less than 100).
A great day out on the bike again. Wet, tough but very scenic and a lovely area to ride in.
Route: click here