Ride Of The Falling Leaves 2012 REVIEW
A very well organised club-run ride, Dulwich Paragon know what makes a good sportive and deliver it in spades with the Ride of the Falling Leaves. A relatively short but challenging route around the very beautiful Kent Downs which is well supported throughout by club volunteers. Gourmet coffee, croissants and cakes to start, homemade cakes on the feed and a pasta meal and beer in the sunshine to finish all for £20 make it one of the best value rides out there too.
Distances: 80 / 100 km
Entry fee: £20
Participants: 600 (Sold Out)
Start: Herne Hill Velodrome
Catering: Free, quality coffee, cakes and mule bars at the start, a free high carb meal and drink at the finish
Timed: Yes (Helmet stickers)
Signs: Clear blue arrows on a white background
Roads: A mixture, a short stretch of rutted farm track which seemed unnecessary
The Iconic Herne Hill Velodrome
The Ride of the Falling Leaves is a unique event for me, the only sportive in the calendar to start within easy rolling distance of my front door. With a start line at Herne Hill Velodrome, a London cycling icon and spiritual home of the event organisers, Dulwich Paragon.
Dulwich Paragon recently featured in Cycling Weekly welcoming their 500th member, they are now the largest cycling club in the country which will probably come as no surprise to anyone who has seen their distinctive blue jerseys at seemingly every ride and cycling event in Europe. The club’s experience and passion for cycling shows in the organisation throughout this ride and arriving on site on a very cold but bright morning, the team of enthusiastic volunteers soon had us registered and ready to get underway. While waiting for some riders to join us we had time to enjoy the fantastic high quality fresh coffee, croissants and cakes all on offer for free.
Free Coffee and Cakes
The city start makes for a bit of a logistical challenge to get the riders out of town quickly and safely but this ride deals with it well. Riders are released in small groups, starting with a novel flying lap of the Velodrome itself before heading out up the college lane climb towards the Crystal Palace TV mast on Anerley Hill. With the minimum of city roads we were soon climbing Layhams Road into the beautiful Kent countryside as the sunshine began to break through.
The course is immediately fairly brutal, crossing over the downs for the first time with a jagged profile that had the lactic acid building before I was even 30km in. Some of the road quality leaves a bit to be desired in this area and there were a few hazardous potholes to watch for and some fairly hairy descents, one of which had me in a minor off as I braked too quickly to avoid an ascending car.Back on the straight and narrow and we headed further south into Kent, passing some picturesque villages on the way. This section was about as flat as north Kent gets, which isn’t very. A short climb up to Hever pushed us back towards the downs and the steepest side of the rightfully infamous Toys Hill. Mercifully we swung off left before the very top.
Dulwich Feed Station
The feed station couldn’t have come soon enough and gave us a chance to break and stretch the legs and sample some of the fantastic home-made flapjack. Shortly after the ride took a strange turn up a rutted and muddy farm track which although short seemed an unnecessary inclusion. Xmas Farm Hill, a short climb I’m very familiar with from training rides felt harder than it ever had previously but it meant we are on the way back home.
Kent Country Lanes
Back in town and Anerley Hill provided the last sting in the tail as we then dropped back down to Burbage Road, this time eschewing the velodrome and finishing at the sports club. A hearty meal of pasta and rice had been cooked up and a free drink at the bar was included with the ride. This really added to the pleasant club atmosphere as people stayed on to enjoy a pint in the sunshine.
Ride of the Falling Leaves
- 07/10/2012 - Dulwich, Surrey and Kent
Rating: 79.4% based on 2 reviews - See Previous Ratings
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