Wiggle Ups And Downs Sportive, Epic Course


Today it’s the Wiggle Ups and Downs Sportive, starting from Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, where they film Top Gear.

The route takes us into the Surrey Hills around Godalming, before heading to flatter areas in West Sussex and then returning to the Surrey Hills for more climbing. It’s not called Ups and Downs for nothing!


I arrived a bit later than planned and went to register. I’m riding solo today as my usual southern sportive riding pal, Andy, was working so could not make it.

By the time I had registered, the queue to start was pretty lengthy, but thankfully it soon moved and I was lining up to start. Nice to get another shout out during the safety briefing. Won’t ever tire of that ;).


It’s a bit of a varied day with the weather and I could not decide whether to bring summer or winter kit. In the end, I brought both and ended up pretty much in winter kit. This proved to be a good call as I was not cold at all during the ride, but anything less than my winter jacket and I would have been.

The route headed out of the south entrance of the airfield and to the west towards the hills around Godalming. Quite a few of the roads looked familiar, especially from the Box Hill Original sportive last year, but I’ve not checked yet to make absolutely sure.


After Godalming, the elevation settled down nicely as we headed south towards West Sussex. I soon reached the first feed stop at Plaistow and got talking to a cyclist from Muxton, near home, who was in the area visiting his son and getting a sneaky sportive in at the same time. Small world!

The route then meandered it’s way back northwards towards the Surrey Hills before stopping for the second feed stop at Walliswood, just before the hills started again.


In Ewhurst, the Epic route loop started right by the cricket club, which is a feed stop on the London Revolution and is somewhere I’ll be stopping at in 2 weeks time when on the London Revolution Ultra one-day event.

The hills then kicked up almost immediately. My legs were a bit fatigued by now, especially after my 110 mile midweek ride so I took the climbs very steadily, which worked a treat.

In Farley Heath, towards the top of the Epic loop, I stopped at the third and final feed stop which was in a car park in some woods. It was a cut down feed stop with just water and gels, so I topped up with water for the last 20 miles and headed off.


The big climb of the day came at 65 miles into the ride and what a climb it was! Surrey Hills at their best (worst?) as it was steep and went on for ages. Just when you thought you were at the top, you went round a corner to see more tarmac to climb.

I eventually topped it off and enjoyed a ride through the wooded area on the top of the hill before descending into Ewhurst down Pitch Hill (this was on the London Revolution the reverse way round last year and everyone was calling it Bitch Hill as it’s very steep in places!).


After that, it was an easy ride on flattish roads back to the event HQ at Dunsfold.

Post ride, I had a lovely flat white from my friends at BoMo Expresso Bar and a halloumi and roasted pepper burger (I’m a veggie) from the New Forest Steak and Burger people. Yum!

A fab sportive with perfect organisation and a great route. Good to get some decent climbing into my legs too.

Route: click here

First solo 💯Century ride of the year, training for the London Revolution Ultra. Ride out to Altrincham for lunch and then back home via Jodrell Bank.


I’ve got the London Revolution Ultra coming up on 12th May. This is a 187 mile, 10000ft of climbing ride right around the capital, in the counties that surround it. It’s one of my big target rides of the year and quite an ask, so I have to consciously up my training as the bad weather in the last few months has not really helped!

I decided a ride out to my hometown of Altrincham fitted the bill perfectly. It’s a nice route that I have ridden several times before and it clocks in about 108 miles, so perfect endurance training.

I set off on the quick back road route from home to Market Drayton and then up the main road to Audlem as it’s the most direct route and on a long ride like this, I don’t need to get sidetracked with too many diversions.


As I was entering Coole Lane, which leads from Audlem to Nantwich, there was a road closed sign right on my route. Drat! Thankfully a policeman was just coming down the road so I asked if it was ok to proceed at my own risk. There had been an accident but it was almost cleared up, so he was happy for me to proceed.

Rain also started at this point and by the time I arrived in Nantwich and had cleared the rain, I was soaking. Luckily the rain was replaced by sun and I started to dry out nicely. Phew!


The rest of the ride to Altrincham was much less eventful. I stopped at the Hopley House farm cafe just before Middlewich for a quick coffee for elevenses.

A quick blast through Tatton Park and I was zooming through Ashley and into Hale, then Altrincham.


You’re spoilt for choice for excellent cafe’s in Altrincham but I opted for a firm favourite – the excellent market. A nice smashed avocado and poached egg on toast with chilli oil. Not cheap, but absolutely delicious!

As I was leaving Altrincham I got another soaking, but as soon as I reached the countryside, the rain stopped and the sun came out again. April showers at their best!


An uneventful ride down the lanes to Jodrell Bank followed, with me thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet and time to put the world to rights in my mind. Exactly what I go out cycling for!

That reminds me, I’ve not ridden out to the lovely cafe at Jodrell Bank for ages – must do that again soon.


From there it was an easy ride past Holmes Chapel, Sandbach and past Crewe.

I was going to stop for a water top up and a quick pint in Woore, but I was motoring along, enjoying the ride so delayed the stop until I got to the Joule’s brewery tap in Market Drayton.


After my pint it was an easy ride home, with me extending things a bit via Stoke On Tern, to try and use some different roads than I’d rode out on earlier.

I arrived home with just over 110 miles on the clock and having thoroughly enjoyed my ride. That’s my second century ride of 2018 in the bag, and my first solo one.

Route: click here

Brewin Dolphin Ridgeway Rouleur, Epic Course


Today was the Brewin Dolphin Ridgeway Rouleur Sportive which starts in a lovely rural country estate near Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire and heads out to the south of Oxford, towards Swindon and back.

I had complimentary Velo Club entry to the cancelled Brewin Dolphin Wye Tour a few weeks ago and UK Cycling Events kindly offered to move this over to today’s sportive. This means I get entry to the Velo Club marquee, free breakfast, food after the ride and a whole host of other goodies. Fab!


As I arrived there was a queue of cars out of the estate onto the road, as the event has had to be moved at the last minute within the estate due to waterlogged ground! Not a problem though and I was soon parking up in the designated Velo Club parking area.

I went to register and had a nice surprise as I bumped into a friend from near home, Paul Evans, who was volunteering to help out at the event for the day. We had a quick catch up before I met up with my southern sportive riding pal Andy. We went over to the Velo Club for some very welcome breakfast before the ride.


The pro-lead Velo Club riders headed out at 8:15 but we were still finishing our breakfast and wanted to make our own way around the route, so just joined the normal starting line when we were ready. The pro-lead ride just means you ride to a Gold time, but means less time for socialising at feed stops etc etc.


The first few miles of the ride were through the private estate, on estate roads, before joining normal roads in the Chilterns. A pretty tough early climb soon followed, which was harder than it needed to be as my legs had not yet warmed up!

We then dropped down onto the Oxfordshire plain and onwards to the first feed station, after just 15 miles. We did not really need to stop here, but sportives are a social thing so stop we did and I ended up having a good natter with a few other cyclists.


The route then meandered past Didcot and towards the very far end of the Epic Course near the White Horse at Uffington. I was convinced these white horses carved into the side of hills are all in Wiltshire, but the sign nearby told me we were still in Oxfordshire. You learn something new every day!


The route then started to get much more undulating and there was a bit of a nasty southerly wind, so we were really glad when the route started heading back northwards again! Beautiful countryside though and with BIG views all around.


About 4 miles from the finish, we had to climb back up into the Chilterns from the Oxfordshire plain, which was not too steep but went on for ages and was not that welcome with about 90 miles already in the legs. I’d already had my friend, Tracy, who had ridden the Standard route and had already finished, text me to say how un-welcome the final hill was!

It was then a nice cruise along the top of the ride and back into the estate to the finishing line.


We met up with my friend Paul again at the finishing line to pose for pictures. Then we retired to the Velo Club for some very welcome mushroom pasta and a bottle of beer.

A really good day out on the bike and my first sportive of the year in summer kit and glorious sunshine. I even managed a bit of a tan!

Route: click here

Training for the London Revolution Ultra. Ride out to the fabulous Lockgate Coffee Shop near Tarporley.


I’ve got the London Revolution Ultra (https://www.london-revolution.com/routeultra/) on 12th May. 187 miles and 10000 ft on a complete circuit of London. I thus need to start ramping up my miles and cycling those miles more often.

I’ve not had a chance for a proper midweek ride for weeks now as work has been too manic, but today, with great weather forecast I made sure I got out on my bike.

I was debating whether to do my 108 mile route to Altrincham and back, do my Jodrell Bank route or the route to the lovely Lockgate Coffee Shop in Beeston. In the end, the latter won out as I’ve been meaning to re-visit this fabulous cafe ever since I was last there a month or two ago.


I took the usual route out towards Dearnford Lake, before turning left into Wales at Tilstock. I skirted just inside the Welsh border for a while and then through Malpas and round the more hilly and scenic west side of the Peckforton Hills. Loving the ride today!

All too soon I was at the cafe, helped by a nice tailwind all the way, although it’s going to make the ride back home hard going later on!


I was treated like a returning friend at the cafe. It’s easily my favourite cafe in Cheshire now as the food is great, coffee perfect and it’s just a nice place to be. I opted for a Cortado, followed by a flat white and avocado and feta on brioche. Gorgeous food and loved the different coffees.

All too soon I had to head off, so opted for the usual route via Eaton, Wettenhall, Nantwich and Market Drayton. The wind was hard going in places but not too bad and it’s not like I’m not used to it from the many sportives I ride.


In Market Drayton I stopped at the Joules brewery tap to fill up with iced water and have a refreshing pint to cool me down. I didn’t think we’d manage 22 degrees today but here we are and it’s glorious.

I then took a longer route home via Cheswardine and Sambrook to get the mileage up to over 80 miles.

Really enjoyed the ride out, pottering along at my own endurance pace most of the way and enjoying the lovely weather.

Route: click here

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, Epic Course


Today was the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, starting at the lovely Somerly House Estate, near Ringwood in Hampshire.

This was the first sportive I ever took park in so far away from home this time last year and it’s a lovely route, so I was totally looking forward to my day.


I arrived in plenty of time and with a weather forecast that suggested I might finally be able to dig my summer kit out. I opted for arm and leg warmers too as it was not that warm to start off. It was also forecast rain later so my Raiders gilet was essential.

I parked up and walked up the hill to the event village and registration. As it’s the New Forest, we also have to wear big rider numbers on our backs and were treated to an extended safety briefing, including all about the wild animals we might encounter on the route and giving them priority. Not a problem.


There was quite a queue to start when I was ready but the Epic riders were being ushered to the front as they had to get off before 9:30am. That’s me, so all too soon I was on my way and getting into the ride.

The route was the same as last year, with one small diversion for a closed road just before the first feed stop at Boldre.  I enjoyed the ride southwards from the start, past Bournemouth Airport before turning eastwards to enter the New Forest itself.


At the feed stop, I stocked up with water and had some welcome food as I was getting a little hungry by now. Then it was back on the road and I was soon at Beaulieu and the bit where the Epic Course heads for the coast overlooking the Isle Of Wight (one of my highlights of this lovely route).


After re-joining the Standard route it was up into Lyndhurst. and then onwards to the second and final feed stop at Copythorne. I did not hang around too much here as it had started to rain lightly and I was getting cold not riding my bike.


The final section of the ride contained the most elevation and we were soon heading up onto higher ground, including the main climb of the ride. I remember this being tough last year but did not think it was too bad today, indicating my fitness has improved a lot over the last year.


It was then an easy ride over the top of the Downs, through Fordingbridge and back to the event HQ. Where I collected my medals and goodies. I laughed as these contained a Wilkinson Sword razor – what would a ‘bearded bloke’ want with one of those ;).

I was delighted later on to see I’d earnt a Silver certificate as I normally spend way too long socialising at the feed stops (isn’t this what sportives are about after all?) and get a Bronze.


An amazing day out on my bike in one of my favourite areas to cycle. Loved it!

Route: click here

Sigma Sports South Downs Spring Sportive, Epic Course


Today was the Sigma Sports South Downs Spring Sportive, starting from the lovely Plumpton Racecourse, just north of Brighton. The weather was looking much better than in previous weeks, with low winds, reasonably warm and a low chance of rain.

I arrived just after 8am and had to park up in the middle of the race circuit before wandering the short distance to the grandstand and meeting up with Andy. I went off to register before we headed off to join the line for starting the ride.



Like last week, Andy and I got a shout-out in the pre-ride safety briefing, which was lovely. The first part of the ride was pretty flat and reasonably easy going with my legs warming up nicely and ready for a long ride.

The first feed stop at 20 miles in soon came and we stopped to top up with water, eat some food (I was getting pretty hungry, despite having breakfast earlier) and have a chat with fellow riders.


The route trundled on as before with some gorgeous countryside, before the first split off to the Epic Route. This immediately went uphill and my front disk brake started squealing like crazy as with riding uphill I was putting more pressure on the front wheel.


After a while trying to work out exactly where the noise was coming from (it was not happening on the flats) I stopped and used my car keys to try and pull the disk callipers apart a bit. This sort of helped but did not fix things that much and the noise and extra effort to get up hills continued – ouch!


As we were coming back out of the hilly Epic section, the BikeFixer.com van drove past and he asked if I was ok. I explained what was wrong and he said he’d pull over in a safe place to look for me. Turned out the brake callipers were slightly out of alignment with the disk and a quick tweak by him fixed the issue. As soon as I got back on my bike I could really feel the difference!

The course was still a bit up and down for a while but gradually settled out to a more flat route and we started to eat the miles up.


The second and final feed stop was at 58 miles and we spent way too long chatting and admiring this gorgeous vintage 1962 bike the mechanic had on show by his van.


As we neared the final Epic Course split, not far from the venue, we noticed the Epic sign had been turned around the wrong way and nearly missed out the last Epic Course extra miles. It was only when we spotted a UK Cycling Events guy nearby that he explained what had happened and said to carry on the Epic Course as normal as all the signs were still out.


We arrived back at the venue with just over 80 miles on the clock and a really good ride with some testing early season climbing in the bag.

Another fabulous sportive from UK Cycling Events and all on roads I’d never cycled before.

Route: click here

Late afternoon ride to Whitchurch and back in the wind and rain. Rode right past Dearnford Lake but might have had a sneaky pint in Market Drayton.


I really needed to get out on my bike this week, in preparation for the Sigma Sports South Down Spring Sportive on Saturday, but the weather forecast looked horrible and work was manic.

It got to mid-afternoon today and I spotted a break in work and decided to go for it. It was raining intermittently but I’m not a fair-weather cyclist so cracked on.

The route up to Whitchurch was along the normal way up Marchamley Hill, with the wind in my face most of the way. I planned to ride past Dearnford Lake and as it turned out it was 5pm by the time I went past and I suspect they have closed already anyway.


I headed down through the gorgeous Brown Moss Nature Reserve and onwards via Ighfield and Calverhall. At the latter, I decided to turn left and go to Market Drayton via my alternative route as it’s a lovely road and scenic.

In Market Drayton, I could not resist popping into the Joules brewery tap for a quick pint before carrying on to home.

After the last two trips out where my legs felt tired, they were on fire today and absolutely fine the whole way around. I held it back a bit as I did not want to ruin the weekend sportive (paranoid like that, probably totally unnecessarily) I realised I must have had a bit of a bug along with conjunctivitis and now it has cleared my cycling is back to normal.

Route: click here

Exploring local lanes on my MTB. Got a bit lost in places but it worked out in the end! Eyes still sore but improving thankfully.


My eyes were starting to improve over the weekend but I still felt a bit fluey, so had not planned on a ride at all today. I was tinkering with my MTB and in the end, could not resist a quick trip out to explore some local lanes.

I set off to Ercall Heath and took an old track across the heath to Holy Well and then down to the River Meese before taking another track with the intention of ending up in Tiibberton.

This did not quite work out as planned as I must have taken the wrong farm track somewhere and I ended up coming out onto the road where the Adeney road meets the main Newport to Shrewsbury road.


Not a worry as I could head down to Adeney and then down the track that joins it with Kynnersley. Great fun so far and the bike was more than capable.

Once in Kynnersley, I decided to explore Dukes Drive as I’d seen it on the maps but never been down it. The first part was easy and paved, but it petered out into a kind of dyke on raised ground between two very low lying fields. Nothing too taxing and I eventually came out on the A442. Loving it!

It was getting close to teatime now, so I opted to take the main road to Waters Upton and then the lanes back home.

A really good fun hour or two exploring and something a bit different than my usual longer road rides.

Route: click here