Who’s idea was this?!
An alarm going off before 7am is barely a pleasant thing on weekday, but when it went off on Sunday 19th Feb, it meant only one thing – a journey through Hell.
I won’t let you down
The “Hell of the Ashdown” sportive is an annual test of the legs through the hills near Tunbridge Wells, Biggin Hill and Sevenoaks organised by the local Catford CC. February can be a risky time for any countryside ride, with ice (or worse) a possibility in any shady spot or hollow, however Lucifer must have been having a bad day as we were welcomed with balmy temperatures and gentle breezes, a significant improvement on the year before by all accounts.
A rather sociable start time of just before 10am meant that at least there was time for a mammoth bowl of porridge to fortify myself for what was to come, 108km of muddy country lanes and the equivalent vertical climbing of Alp D’huez.
With the obligatory pre-ride photo out of the way, we were off….
It’s in the details
In hindsight it feels like the organisers has some devilish fun on designing the route, drawing lines from one steep hill to the next with muddy descents and fording streams just to keep it ‘entertaining’. Less than a mile from the start line we were already battling 25% hills with other groups resorting to pushing their bikes up the inclines – a foreboding start; and so it continued, a 100km of climbing or descending, with very little in between except a couple of stopping points for the obligatory flapjack.
What goes up, must come down (and up again)
Don’t let anyone ever complain about there being no hills to climb around London, I lost count at about 30…. 4500Kcal later we’d finished, slightly worse for wear but pleased with getting a solid ‘early season test’ in the legs.
Definitely one to do again… but maybe not on the Cyclocross bike!