The new year brings new challenges, and, of course, new resolutions to ride more, train harder, and tick off further entries on that list of sportives, century rides, and WorldTour races you’d always planned to complete. There’s no better time to start than in January, so here are three rides to get your new year off to a good start.
There’s something for everyone here: a traditional club reliability ride, a family-friendly sportive backed by one of the biggest players in the UK cycling industry, and a multi-terrain event that might be to cyclocross what sportives are to road racing. Enjoy!
Harp Hilly Hundred – Hertfordshire, Sunday January 22
Traditional reliability rides, a staple of the clubman’s season, have received a new lease of life from the sportive revolution. With the popularity of mass participation rides at an all-time high, road clubs, the back bone of the UK road scene, are seeing an exponential rise in the popularity of their winter endurance trials.
With an unbroken history stretching back to 1954, the Harp Hilly Hundred takes its name from a route across the challenging Chiltern Hills. The ‘hundred’ now refers to kilometres, not miles, and for those seeking a gentler start to the year, a 55km route is also on offer. Riders not expecting to complete the century ride in less than five hours are advised to sign-on for the shorter distance. The ‘hilly’ refers specifically to the climbs of Bison Hill near Whipsnade, Aston Hill near Tring, and Ivinghoe Hill.
Setting off from the Hertfordshire town of Kings Langley, riders head through Chesham, Berkhamsted, Whipsnade, Ivinghoe, and Tring, returning to Kings Langley via Ivinghoe and Berkhamsted.
Entry can be paid on the day and costs £10 for the 100km ride and £5 for the 55km ride. Harp RC will donate at least 50 per cent of the entry fees to charity, with £1200 donated from each of the two previous years to good causes including St Albans Mencap, Shelter, and the Vic Dashwood Memorial Fund.
Sign-on takes place from 8.45pm in the Hemel Hempstead CC club room at the Nash Mills recreation centre, Red Lion Lane, Kings Langley, HP3 9TE. Riders on the 100km ride will set off between 9am and 10am, while those tackling the 55km will leave between 10am and 10.30am. Electronic timing is included. Refreshment stops are not. Bring plenty of supplies!
Evans Cycles Ride It! Classic Series – Chieveley, Sunday January 22
If the Harp Hilly Hundred represents the proud tradition of club reliability trials, then Evans Cycles’ Ride It! Classic Series event at Chieveley is a prominent example of why sportives have gained such enormous popularity. With four routes of varying distance, including a fifteen mile, family-friendly fun ride, this early season sportive at Chieveley offers an inclusive, something-for-everyone start to the new cycling year.
For those who enjoy cycling in stunning surroundings, the ride at Chieveley has plenty to offer, with routes that pass through the Downlands AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) towards the Ridgeway, an ancient chalk route that affords views of the surrounding countryside. If the weather allows, organisers will send the riders to the climb of Streatley Hill, a 16 per cent climb from the banks of the River Thames.
Four routes are offered: a fifteen mile ‘fun’ ride, a ‘short’ ride of 30 miles, a half-century ‘medium’ ride, and a ‘long ride’ of 70 miles. Registration takes place at Chieveley Village Hall between 8am and 10.30am, with riders leaving at five minute intervals from 8.30am.
Entry for adults costs £7.50 for the ‘fun’ route and £12.50 for all others. Entry for children aged under 16 and accompanied by a ‘full’ paying adult is free.
Woodcote CX Sportive – Oxfordshire, Sunday January 29
For those who fancy the technical challenge of cyclocross without the lung-busting intensity, or perhaps just wish to ride for longer than an hour, the Woodcote CX Sportive may be the answer. With a mix of tarmac, tracks, fire roads, bridleways, and even semi-technical single track, this blast around the Oxfordshire countryside from the village of Woodcote has something for riders who like their sportives to mirror the racing calendar.
Three routes, from 40km to 80km, are offered. The 40km CX route will see riders tackle their fair share of climbs, peaking at 184m at a maximum gradient of 14 per cent. At 60km, the CXX route peaks at 211m, while the 80km CXXX challenge has a height gain of 1207m taking riders to a high point of 211m.
Registration takes place at Langtree School, Woodcote from 8.30am. Riders can set off from 9am, with 9.30am the latest time to start the 80km ride and the 10.30am the final call for the 40km and 60km rides. The event centre closes at 4pm.