After the Wiggle Sussex Gran Fondo Black Route yesterday, my legs felt surprisingly good this morning and ready to ride the Epic route on the Wiggle South Downs Epic MTB Sportive.
I had some quick porridge at the hotel and myself and Andy drove over to the event HQ at Fontwell Racecourse for the second sportive in as many days. As we’d been here yesterday, it was dead easy to find our way round and we were soon registered and ready to ride.
I’ve not done a whole lot of MTB riding so I’m totally dropping myself in the deep end by riding the longest route on a MTB sportive today. In for a penny, in for a pound though and I’m always up for a challenge!
The first part of the route was the same as yesterday’s road sportive, but not long afterwards we took a right turn up a track and up a hill into some woods.
This was pretty much the first time I’ve tackled uphill riding with tree roots everywhere and I was finding it quite challenging and not a little bit un-nerving with my wheels jumping around all over the place. Not something you are used to from road riding!
My nerves got the better of me on a rooty downhill section and I tried to stop but ended off coming off my bike at the side of the track into some small bushes. Just a scratch to my leg and my pride dented a bit, but my nerves did subside after this and I started to settle into the ride and what was required.
Soon afterwards we were out of the woods and on open heathland, which was much easier to cycle along. The course split with the Short route heading back to the finishing line soon followed.
The next section of the ride was lovely. Along the South Downs Way on the top of a hill with fab views all around. Loved it and in no time the Epic route split off too and we were zooming down the hill to the first feed stop of the ride near Cocking.
We spent way too long nattering at the feed stop but eventually set off for the slog up the next hill, which turned out to be not quite as bad as it looked from a distance. At the top it was into a wooded section again, but my confidence levels were much better now and I was totally enjoying it.
Not long afterwards we climbed up to a nature reserve called Kingley Vale, which is home to the UK’s oldest trees according to the information sign. It also had the most amazing views over the coast and beyond. Loved it!
A fast and flowy descent followed and we then bumped into a fellow cyclist who had had 7 punctures and was totally dis-spirited (needless to say he’d run out of gas canisters and spare tubes a long time ago). Andy ended up re-fixing a puncture patch which had failed, but this only lasted a few hundred yards and then went again!
Thankfully we bumped into a course marshall soon afterwards who had spare tubes so he put one on and was back in business. Phew!
We’d spent quite a long time with the punctures and time was getting on, so we made an executive decision to cut the next few miles of off-road out and head by road direct to the next feed station. Needless to say, when we got there, they were starting to pack up!
Water replenished, we headed off for the final section of the route back to event HQ. This was back into the woods we’d started out, but initially via a different route before joining up with the initial route for the descent back down to the event HQ.
This time the tree roots caused me much less of a problem and I was thoroughly enjoying the challenge.
Back at event HQ, we got a coffee from my friends at BoMo Expresso Bar and I had a leg massage from Six Physio as it’s a 4-hour drive back home and I did not want my legs aching and me keep having to stop the car to stretch them.
What an absolutely fabulous weekend of cycling. Great weather, lovely routes, good comapny. Loved it!
Route: click here
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