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The Hell of the Ashdown

On the morning of Sunday 1 February, 1,000 cyclists will wend their way through the Kent countryside in the Hell of the Ashdown sportive.

On the 70 mile route from Biggin Hill to Ashdown Forest and back, the cyclists will tackle seven of the most awesome climbs to be found in Southern England.

It certainly is a challenge. Before they’ve even warmed up, the riders face the 25% Cudham ‘Test Hill’, followed by the long haul up Toys Hill and then Hollow Lane (Dormansland). Then it’s on to the real test of the feared Kidds Hill, commonly known as ‘The Wall’, to the top of the Ashdown Forest at the halfway point.

After a thrilling five mile descent, riders scale Groombridge Hill followed by a brief respite before they toil up the long climb of Bayley’s Hill to the crest of the North Downs ridge, one of the highest points in Kent. Finally there is the one they all dread, the sting in the tail – Star Hill. If you want to see a spectacle of ‘Tour de France magnitude’, then be there any time between 11.30am and 3.30pm and catch the long procession of tired riders straining up this strength-sapping climb.

The reputation of this testing event has not deterred this year’s riders. Entries opened on the 1st November and the event was was full within 10 days!

But it is not all blood, sweat and tears because the riders, who come from all over the UK and even as far as the Netherlands, will be introduced to the beauty of the quiet lanes and the picturesque villages of Kent. They will get some awe-inspiring views from the summits they climb and some will be tempted to return later and take a more leisurely look.

The 1,000 cyclists are all riding in aid of a good cause. For this Catford Cycling Club promotion is the first event in the British Heart Foundation’s ‘Red for Heart’ month. /

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