Today was the Cycling Weekly Box Hill Original Sportive and I was booked on the Epic Route and totally looking forward to the hilly route and the challenge ahead. As usual, I planned to arrive the day before and stay overnight nearby.
I noticed that the old Weybridge Airfield (where they used to build the old but totally beautiful VC10 airliner, amongst other things), at the old Brooklands race track was close by and I’ve always wanted to visit the museum there as they have loads of old airliners my Dad used to work on, along with old cars, motorbikes etc etc. I can totally geek out for an afternoon!
I set off early on Saturday morning with the intention of getting to the museum as early as possible so I could maximise my time there. Suffice to say I had an amazing afternoon wandering around and inside all the old planes, chatting with the friendly volunteers as I went. I even got to go on their Concorde and the very nice lady guide took me into a nearby hangar for a personal tour of the only remaining Concorde simulator in the world. Fab! Loved it!
On the morning of the sportive, I was up at 5:45am and got ready before the 40 minute drive to the event HQ in Cranleigh, deep in the Surrey Hills. On arrival, I was going to have a latte from my friends at the lovely BOHO mobile coffee bar but the queue was long and I wanted to get started on my ride as I knew it was long and hilly so would take longer than normal.
The first 10 miles of the ride skirted through the Surrey Hills and were VERY undulating with a few more challenging short climbs thrown in for good measure. After the first feed stop at 17 miles (I topped up with water and caught up with a Strava friend) the terrain settled out a lot as we headed into West Sussex and the gap between the North and South Downs.
A welcome respite for the legs in anticipation of the terrain kicking up substantially just after the second feed stop at 50 miles into the ride.
I’d checked the route beforehand and noticed it took you along the side of the infamous Leith Hill climb and not up it. It’s in the top 100 UK climbs book and I’m slowly ticking them off so I could not get so close and not do it. I thus diverted off the sportive route and rode up Leith Hill to the top, before taking another road to join back up with the sportive route. What can I say, it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. Some steep sections but they all had flatter bits just after so you could rest a bit before tackling the next steep section. Really enjoyed the climb and the views from the top and satisfying to bag another top 100 climb (the second this week and not the last as I also did Box Hill later in the ride…).
Next, it was down into Dorking before routing to the north of the town and famous Box Hill. Everyone I had spoken to had said it was not a hard climb and it turned out to be true. Not very steep (probably about the same as the Cat n Fiddle climb from Wednesday but that went on for 7 miles!) so I just stuck it in bottom gear and steadily made my way to the top with not much effort. Loads of people going up and down along with tons of people at the top enjoying the views. Would have loved to try the nice looking cafe but will have to save that for another time.
After a circumnavigation of Box Hill summit, we descended and headed off to the west and up the Ranmore Common hill. Another long ascent but not too hard, although significantly harder than Box Hill.
Then it was northbound to the 3rd and final feed stop at Ockham, very close to the M25. I know Ockham as I’m a private pilot and it has a VOR navigation beacon there. In fact, we went right past it as I spotted it in the middle of a field just before we arrived in the village!
It was then 20 or so miles back to the event HQ, heading back up into the Surrey Hills for 2 more climbs and lots of very undulating roads. Absolutely stunning area with lots of beautiful villages and great vistas.
Back at the HQ I stopped for a coffee and chat with the owners of the BOHO coffee bar before heading home after a fantastic weekend away.
Route: click here