Archive for the ‘Sportives’ Category

Zappi Gran Fondo sportive

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

On Sunday 16th of September the first edition of the Zappi Gran Fondo will take place, starting and finishing at the Cherwell School on the Marston Ferry Road in Oxford. There will be two routes, one Medio Fondo at 110 km and the Gran Fondo which is 185 km.

To my knowledge this is the only sportive that actually starts in Oxford and promises to provide an exciting and fun time to all participants, with a challenging route into the Cotswolds for the Gran Fondo which includes a climb of Fish Hill.

There are lots of details on the webpage at so why not visit the site and sign up for what promises to be a great day out on the bike.

What do you get on this event?

  • Electronic chip timing
  • 500 Riders
  • 1st class service stations on course
  • Signing on goody bag
  • Full Route Signage
  • Mobile mechanics
  • Free parking
  • Toilets
  • Photography
  • Pre ride refreshments at HQ
  • Post ride food + refreshments at HQ
  • Broom Wagon
  • GPX file of route and printed map

Etape du Tour 2012 Act 2 – monster of a stage

Saturday, August 4th, 2012


Etape 2012

That was a very tough day out on the the saddle even without the cold and the rain. The start was in the Place de Verdun in Pau and when we arrived at six thirty am there were already thousands of cyclists milling around in the square. Riders were allocated to one of nine start pens by their bib number. The weather was dry and warmish but luckily I chose to take arm warmers and a very light rain cape as there was a chance of rain later on.


Etape du Tour 2012 Act 2 – Pau to Bagnères de Luchon

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

(For my report of riding the stage see Etape Act II monster stage)

The second of the two Etapes that are planned for 2012 is in the Pyrenees. There is a good description of the route in Cycling Weekly at Etape du Tour 2012: Pau to Bagneres de Luchon.

There is also an interesting and well informed article on Le Domestique Tours   which is based on local knowledge as they are located on the route of the Etape.

And Paddy from Velopeloton has published a page crammed with some great photos of the climbs and useful info  including a GPX of the route, see

This looks to be a tough route with plenty of climbing involved, the estimates vary but looking at the table below which includes the ascent of the categorised climbs and also adds in the altitude difference between the start and finish locations then the minimum ascent will be in the region of 4,500 metres.

After mapping the route on Google maps the total climb was reported as just over 5,400 metres, this includes all the minor hills and gradients and the climbs up the valley floors that are not part of the categorised climbs.


Cat and Fiddle Challenge 2011

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Cat and Fiddle climb

Last Sunday was the Brian Rourke Cat and Fiddle challenge starting and ending in Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire.  This event is run to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which is a very worthy cause raising cash to fund the search for a cure to this disease . It is also a great occasion, with Sean Kelly and other cycling celebrities riding the course alongside us mere mortals.

From Stoke-on-Trent, this 55-mile circular route takes you through Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and the beautiful Peak District National Park, including the infamous 7-mile Cat and Fiddle climb which will leave you breathless not only from the cycling, but from the stunning scenery that surrounds you.

The HQ for the event is in the Cobridge Community Centre just a few yards from Brian Rourke Cycles, early on Sunday it was busy with a thousand plus cyclists converging on the start from near and far.


Blenheim Sportive – harder than it looks

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Rode the Blenheim Sportive 100 mile route today, that was quite tough,  lots of climbs up and down the Cotswold escarpment plus a “rolling” course which had few places you could call flat.

Blenheim Sportive

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Blenheim Breast Cancer Care sportiveRiding the Blenheim 100 mile sportive route this weekend.  This is part of the Bike Blenheim Festival of Cycling on the 21 of August 2011.

There is also a time trial held in the Palace Grounds as well as the Brompton World Championship.

For details see the Blenheim website

2011 My year in Sportives

Friday, March 11th, 2011

A while ago I did a couple of sessions with Gary Palmer at Sportstest which I would recommend to anyone who is interested in exploring their fitness limits. The regime he recommends is quite tough but I have never been fitter than when subject to his tender mercies. One thing Gary said has stuck which was to have major goals during the year that  you can work towards and limit the number of events. The logic is you will find it easier to motivate yourself towards major goals and doing less events means more time for training.

With all of that in mind I tend to ride 4 to 5 sportives a year, and my plans for the first part of the sportive season are starting to fall into place. (more…)

White Horse Challenge is next up

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Next sportive for me is the White Horse Challenge which is on 17 April this year, looking forward to this event which I’ve done each year since it started in 2007 – so this will be the fifth time around. The advantage of doing the same event each year is it gives you an indication of how fit you are. My personal best was in 2009 with just under 5 hours, last year in 2010 it was just over five hours.White Horse Challenge 2011

The fastest time last year was 4:26 with an average speed of nearly 34kph which is pretty impressive given the climbing.

So  here is hoping 2011 will be a good year for all who are riding the WHC, all the profits go to WaterAid which is a very good cause, the total amount raised for WaterAid by WHC 2010 was £13,328.21 which is pretty fantastic!

The event filled up pretty quickly as it always does, however here are some places still available for those willing to do some fundraising:

Standard entry (450 places) has filled up. There are still some additional guaranteed entry places for those who commit to raise at least £100 sponsorship for WaterAid. Please e-mail us if you are interested and we will send you an application form.

Puncheur 2011 – short and sweet

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

It was a bit cold and grey driving down to Ditchling for the Puncheur but hey it wasn’t raining and the roads were not frosty so everything seemed set for a good day out.  This is an early season event over 69 miles (109 kilometres) that is billed by the organisers as:

The challenge of the PUNCHEUR Sportive is not a long list of testing climbs, neither is it mega-endurance. The challenge is to keep up a good tempo across a variety of terrains. There are long, flat stretches; draggy climbs; fast descents; and short, sharp, steeper hills to get out the saddle and punch your way over. This is a course to be attacked, knowing you don’t have to hold back due to 100 miles or more ahead of you, but can you pace it so you don’t blow up early, AND, also make sure you have something in your legs to get you up Ditchling Beacon at the end? If this blows your skirt up, sign on.


Exmoor Beast 2010

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

The weather forecast for the Exmoor Beast 2010 was for showers or light rain with a easterly breeze, on the day it was pretty wet when arriving in Minehead for the start. I rode the inaugural edition of this sportive in 2007 and was back to try it again. The start venue had moved from Dunster Castle to Butlins which was a positive move as there was plenty of parking and other amenities at hand. This made up for the lack of Dunster’s undoubted attractiveness and old worldly beauty.

Exmoor Beast crossing the ford

Exmoor Beast crossing the ford

The ride was wet to start off and very misty once the route turned off the main road and started the climb up to Exmoor. It then climbs steeply over to the top of Exmoor, one of the highlights being crossing the ford.

There are plenty of cattle grids on Exmoor, some of which felt pretty slippy in the wet. The ride then descends very steeply down Countesbury Hill to the port of Lynmouth in Devon, which is very pretty and has a water powered funicular railway. Then there is a long steady climb up the Gorge of the East Lynn river up Watersmeet Road back up to Exmoor again to the high point of Span Head before descending down to Dulverton on the Barle river.