Today was the Wiggle Devils Punch Sportive, starting at Dunsfold Aerodrome where they film Top Gear and have the test track you see on TV. The route takes you out through the Surrey Hills into Hampshire and along the North Downs towards Winchester and then back through the Devils Punch Bowl (see here for details) to the event HQ.
As usual, I travelled the day before so I could be at the start nice and early. That did not quite work out as a combination of a warm and comfy bed and knowing it was cold and chucking it down outside made it hard to get going. The thought of a fab ride in a great area did the trick though and I was at the event HQ by about 7:45am. Not a problem as it’s only a 78 mile ride today so loads of time to spare.
At the event HQ, I went to register and contacted my southern riding mate Andy to see where he was. Before he could reply he shouted over as he got here very early and was parked almost next to the registration tent!
The steering on my bike did not feel quite right and I realised my front tyre was low on air. The only problem with running tubeless tyres is they do leak air over time more than the corresponding tube tyres. I topped it up with Andy’s track pump and we set off for the start.
UK Cycling Events were their usual efficient selves with a spot on briefing and we were soon on our way. The route initially takes up into the Surrey Hills to the side of Godalming and I recognised one climb from the Box Hill Sportive a few weeks ago.
Really fun undulating countryside but very wooded and this time of the year the leaves are all falling onto the road and that combined with the rain lead to slippery conditions, so we steadied things up a bit more than usual.
The first feed stop was at Binsted opposite an absolutely gorgeous chocolate box church. What a privilege to be riding in such a lovely area, despite the rain.
Immediately after the feed stop the course split and we headed off on the Epic section. This turned out to be my favourite part of what was a stunning ride, with sweeping quiet country lanes and great vistas all around.
Feed stop 2 was at Ropley and we stopped to top up with fuel and water. 2 of my lovely wife’s Marmite and Cheese pastries and a Rhubarb and Custard gel did the trick for me as usual.
Just before we re-joined the standard route at Oakhanger, we spotted these huge golf ball looking communications things in the valley, which turned out to be RAF Oakhanger and is a military communications site (see here for more details).
After a very long climb up towards the Surrey Hills at Grayshott and were rewarded with a lovely flowing descent before arriving at the third and final feed stop shortly afterwards.
From there it was an easyish 15 mile ride back to event HQ to collect our medals and goodies.
We’d talked about riding the Top Gear track on our bikes at the end and there were no signs to say not to so off we set. We had great fun getting close up with the Boeing 747 and RAF VC10 you see in the background on Top Gear external shots before riding their track and returning to our cars.
Another really good event with everything you could expect and more and another amazing route. I absolutely adore the Meon area at the far west end of the route and rated the Mega Meon Sportive I did a few months ago in the area one of the best routes I’ve ever ridden.
Not many sportives left this year which is a bit sad but I’m totally looking forward to seeing where I will get to ride next year.
Route: click here
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