Hampshire hills and hollows

The surprisingly lumpy terrain of the Sussex/Hampshire borderland awaits those who set off on the first edition of Sportive Photo’s Southern Spring Classic, which takes place on Sunday 1st April. Well, it will be surprising to those who don’t know the area; anyone who does will be aware of the numerous short but steep climbs dotted along the ridge that runs east-west to the south of Liphook. And, indeed, of the long and shallow climb off to the side of the now-quiet Devil’s Punchbowl, the notoriously heavy traffic of the A3 trunk road now bypassing Hindhead through a recently-completed tunnel.

With the completion of the tunnel, the area around Hindhead has undergone a profound change – for the better; the town itself is now peaceful and, of more interest to Southern Spring Classic riders, the old main road climbing south into Hindhead has been grubbed up and replaced with a gravel path affording fine views across the Punchbowl itself.

This path provides latter part of the long and shallow climb mentioned earlier as will prove one of the more demanding stretches of either of the two ride routes. On both it will come towards the end and its gradient, though gentle, is relentless. In fact, it is more of a three mile false flat than a discernible climb, which will make it all the worse. There are, after all, few more dispiriting experiences in road cycling than pressing hard on the pedals for little appreciable result.

Bearing this in mind, it will be wise, having left the start at Liphook’s Hollycombe Steam Museum, to take a steady approach to the early miles, which wend through some of the loveliest scenery in southern England. There are plenty of hills to take the mind off the beauty of the endlessly undulating landscape and, when they pall, there are Hampshire’s pretty villages to enjoy.

The event offers distances of 50 and 71 miles – the Standard and Epic respectively – and event photos will be free for riders to download afterwards. The photography will, of course, be by Sportive Photo’s own experienced snappers. With ride organisation by the established UK Cycling Events team, the Southern Classic should be a great day out and one that will surely prove as delightful for those unfamiliar with the area as with regular two-wheeled visitors to east Hampshire’s quiet back roads.

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