The opening round of the Vitus Sportive Series will take place on Saturday May 19, with two 47 and 92-mile courses through the Scottish Borders – and the organisers have sent us this run-down of the routes.
None of the hill climbs are Alpine in scale but only one is less than 100m vertical and if you check the course profiles, there isn’t a flat road in between, so the ascent total soon builds up. Note: Climb highpoints are shown in square brackets.
Everyone will head out of Selkirk [120m] along the picturesque Ettrick Valley, with two miles of easy spinning before hitting a singletrack road that snakes its way up onto the Woll Rig [334m]. After a fast descent to the village of Ashkirk, you start an undulating moorland road that takes in Blawearie, Alemoor Reservoir and The Rankle Burn before reaching the first feed stop at Tushie Law in Ettrick Valley.
Here riders on the 47-mile routes turn east and take on two of the best climbs in the Borders, The Berry Bush [380m] and Witchie Knowe [362m] before an easy run back to Selkirk along the valley floor. The long course riders turn left and makes for the wilds of Eskdalemuir.
Given a calm day, it’s a big ring churn up to the source of the Tima Water near the glamorously named Foulbog [334m] and on past Samie Ling Tibetan Monastery. Stop for tea and contemplation if you want but you may be persuaded to stay (in silence) for three years, three days, three hours, three minutes… you get the drift.
At Eskdalemuir village (two houses and a tree) it’s a right turn and a tough peck over to Boreland through endless Spruce plantations of Castle O’er Forest. Look for a well-stocked feed table at the village.
After more winding roads, a near miss with Moffat and a 10-mile climb alongside Moffat Water (blink the sweat from your eyes long enough to glance at the area’s highest waterfall, the Gray Mares Tail, if you can). The Dumfries/Selkirkshire border marks another high point [338m], the return to civilisation and the start of a 45 minute rolling descent past the Borders’ best known beauty spot, St Mary’s Loch. Feed stop number three soon comes into view at The Gordon Arms Hotel.
Next up is The Witchie Knowe [362m], 167 vertical metres of hell for tired legs and the last climb of the day which turns left on reaching the Ettrick Valley road and follows the same return route as the 47 milers. The clockwise direction of each route means that the outward leg will be into the prevailing wind and like last year, there are no busy main roads included; in fact on some sections you’ll be lucky to see a car.”
Entry costs £27 for either routes. Riders who also want to tackle the Chain Reaction Cycles Mountain Bike Marathon on the Sunday can buy a discounted ticket for £47, rather than £59.
Enter online at www.roadsportives.co.uk