Photo copyright - Matt Buck

For the Cheesy Peas 110km Brevet Populaire on the same day, please click here.

All ride information and .gpx files etc. can be downloaded from the very bottom of the page.

Saturday 6th August 2016, 8 am

 

Entry to the event via AUK website

About the route

This event is a 209 km ride through the Surrey Hills and on into West Sussex, turning around just past Chichester.  It is based around many of my training routes and club runs and features some well-known climbs and some less well known lumps as well.  I much prefer to ride on lanes than main roads and I have tried to keep the main road sections short and generally, they are unavoidable without massive over-distance.  Consequently, this is a pretty laney ride and I always find it remarkable how many lanes there are in this crowded bit of the World, some which seem to not be used by anyone much.  This does also mean that you need to keep on your toes with the navigation!

Whilst there are some tough climbs, the total ascent figure is not off the scale (around 2300m) and there's plenty of flatter stuff to get your speed back up (and the last 25km or so is pretty much flat all the way to the end, so tired legs should make it to the finish).  Rolling with two or three vicious climbs just about sums it up! (Bedham Hill, Duncton Hill and Barhatch are the ones I find particularly challenging, particularly on fixed). 

The event is X-rated.  This is not nearly as exciting as it sounds!  It simply means that there are no facilities provided on the ride, so we make use of commercial controls (i.e. cafes and shops) along the way.  

As with all Audax events, you need to be self-sufficient.  There's no way-marking or broom wagon, so you need to be sure you can get around using either the route-sheet, or the GPX file provided and, in the event of any mechanical issues, you have got the tools to get you sorted with most issues (at minimum, you should have a spare tube, tyre levers, pump and a small multi-tool of some form)

Being summer, you can hopefully travel with very minimal additional clothing.  Depending on how the weather looks, you might want a light rain jacket, but hopefully not much else (though arm warmers can be useful if it's a bit chilly at the start or if you are likely to be using all the time available).  The majority of riders should be okay without lights for the ride, but those on the fuller value end of the ride will need them and you might want them for the ride home if you stop for a couple of drinks at the end etc. (sunset will be around 8:40 pm).

Other than that, it is as easy as riding a bike.  You will be given your brevet card at the start.  This will have various boxes for the controls as listed below, where there will a stamp, sticker or receipt to collect (more details on the route sheet for each control), and there are a number of info controls where you will have to answer a simple question to prove you have been past that point (something like "what is the distance to Richmond on the signpost at the junction?").  A pen or a pencil is a good thing to have, or a good memory and fill them in at the end (or take photos of them and, again, fill them in at the end).  

Remember that Audax is not a race, there's no prize for finishing first, so enjoy it and really do not worry too much about the time.  The times for each control are printed on the brevet card, but the really important one is the end, where you need to be back by 21:56. 

The profits from the event will be split between two charities who both do vital work in areas that have sadly touched many of us:

Campaign Against Living Miserably - suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men under 45 in the UK. 

RoadPeace - 1 in 75 of us is bereaved through a road crash.  Road deaths are sudden, violent, unexpected and premature.

One important request: If you do abandon for any reason, please text or call the number on the brevet card to let me know.  There's nothing worse than waiting and worrying about a rider still being on the road.  If you think you are going to make it around but be out of time, again, please just let me know.   

Photo copyright Aniello Del Sorbo

Start control - COSTA COFFEE, RICHMOND

We are meeting at the Costa Coffee by Richmond Station (turn left from the front of the station and it's just on your left here).  

The Costa opens from 7am and there's plenty of space out the front to leave your bike etc. (bring a light lock, we'll all be milling around at the start, but no guarantees to be watching every bike etc.).  Make sure to collect your brevet card from me.  I will also have any last minute announcements should there need to be any changes due to roadworks etc.

Richmond Station is on the District Line, Overground and mainline from all sorts of bits of London and further afield, so easy to get to.

Parking is available in the multi-storey next to the station and at the Old Deer Park (which is a bit cheaper, about 5 minutes bike ride away).

When we're ready for the off, the route will take you through Teddington and Bushy Park before crossing the river next to Hampton Court Palace.  Then through the commuter (especially if your job is playing football!) towns of Esher and Cobham before starting to get a bit more rural and into the lanes.  The climbing also starts with a little trip up Critten Lane which is a relatively gentle warm up, you will then descend one of the harder climbs in the Surrey Hills (Whitedown Lane) (take it steady as it is a tricky, very steep descent with a car often buried in the undergrowth on the outside of the very tight left hander.  I have yet to see a rider not make the turn, but I am sure it happens as it is a very sharp corner.).

A couple more lumps and bumps and we descend out of the Surrey Hills for a roll into West Sussex and the first control at The Milk Churn near Rudgewick.  Just about the best cheese on toast in the world made from milk from their own herd of cows.  Lovely people who are being very accommodating and opening earlier just for us (so the fast riders can be there bang on control opening time if they want). 

Following breakfast, we move swiftly into the South Downs where there's some lumps to get over (including a rather cheeky 15% one near Bedham and also Duncton Hill which at times can be busy, but it is, I think, the best of the two or three options for getting over the South Downs in that area). 

Once over the South Downs, we pass Goodwood Motor Circuit and Aerodrome, the Rolls Royce factory and on towards Chichester.  We follow the walls of the City, but in order to bypass the centre, we do not see the famous cathedral (though it is only a short deviation from the route if you do want to see it).  A couple of short sections of bike path take us out of the city and to the turning point of the ride at 101km.  

The palace at Fishbourne is the largest Roman house in the UK and houses some incredible mosaics etc., but you are here for cake and that's plentiful at the on-site cafe (menu here ) (and they also do non-cake food such as sandwiches, jacket potatoes etc. if you need something savory).  

It is believed that the home may have been that of Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus (hence the name of the ride), but no-one can be 100% certain. 

Once you've wined and dined, it's back over the South Downs once again, this time on a very long, gentle gradient, so nothing to worry about as the terrain is generally fairly benign for the start of this section, with a really fabulous climb out of Easebourne being the only real lump until we get to Barhatch Lane.  

In Simon Warren's "Cycling Climbs of South-East England", he describes it as the hardest climb in the South-East and I am not going to argue with him.  It's a climb that tricks you, you think you have it all under control and then it kicks up again, and again (it even manages a rather cruel little descent after the first ramp!); the top sections would be challenging with fresh legs, but after what is quite a long climb (oh and the 160+ km before it!) it really does bite back hard.  I've never quite made it on fixed (yet!) and it's enough of a struggle on gears*.

If you do survive Barhatch, then the reward is a true Surrey Hills experience at the Peaslake Village Stores.  Sitting on the benches at Peaslake drinking a mug of tea and eating a sausage roll is one of my favourite things, usually in the middle of winter surrounded by muddy mountain bikers!  If you are in need of something stronger than tea, then the pub is a perfectly valid option as a) it's summer and bound to be hot right? and b) you're very nearly home.

Please note that the store closes at 6:30pm, so those running close to the time limit (the control closes at 7:12pm) will have to use the pub for a control.  

* if your legs really are not up to it, I will put on the routesheet a slightly longer, busier alternative route that does add a couple of km and whilst it doesn't climb that much less, the gradients are much less severe than Barhatch.  

Through Shere and one last grimp up Combe Lane (when approaching the very steep hairpin, try and swing out as far right as you safely can as it's a bit vertical on the inside of the corner!) and over Staple Lane (really great view of London as you come over the top; you can see the Shard, Canary Wharf etc. all on the horizon far away*) before winding your way back to Cobham and onto the Portsmouth Road (pretend you are Bradley Wiggins on your way to Olympic gold in the time trial) and retracing our tyre tracks through Bushy Park and onto the finish at the Alba Pub in leafy St Margarets.  

Food and drinks will be available - a good range of cask ales and the best pizzas in the area!  

The pub will reserve us some tables outside to eat, drink and tell tall tales at!

From the pub, it's a 5 minute ride back across the Thames to Richmond to pick up your car or get the train home etc. (trains also leave from St. Margarets or Twickenham depending on where you need to get to).  

* because it is a summer event, I am hoping it will be clear skies!  I've been up there when you can not see a thing in winter!

Original photo here

Entry to the event via AUK website.

Starting at 9am from the same Costa in Richmond, the route mirrors the 200km event down to the Milk Churn in Rudgewick.  It then cuts north before rejoining the 200km route in Cranleigh.  This means that the riders on this event don't get to miss out on Barhatch Lane (sorry!).  All but the 10km cutting back to Cranleigh is identical to the 200km event route, this does mean some tough climbs, but in some of the most beautiful parts of the Surrey Hills.  The overall ascent is around 1100m, pretty much all packed into the middle 50km, so bring low gears or strong legs, preferably both!

The more relaxed time limits on this shorter event mean that anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to get around as there's nearly 11 hours available for the ride.