Event Review

Malvern Spring Sportive REVIEW

by Mark Powell


Date: Sunday 12th May 2013
Short route: 51km
Medium route: 103km
Long route: 165km
Entry fee: £24.50 (including free entry to the gardening show)
Start: Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire WR13 6NW
Parking: Free and plentiful at the showground
Short route: one feed station at approx. 22km
Medium route: one feed station at approx. 46km
Long route: two feed stations, the first at approx. 46km and a second at 113km
Catering: Energy drinks, biscuits, flapjack and bananas at the feed stations.
Hot food at the finish.
Timed: Handle bar fixed timing chips, with times available via the website within 48hrs of the finish.
Signs: A very clearly way-marked route
Roads: A mix of fast B roads and un-named roads (some on the rough side)
Goody bag: Free water bottle
Extras: NEG motorcycle outriders, first aid cover and neutral service support.

Website and Entry:

First impressions of the website and entry process left me feeling like Veloevents could have done more to sell this ride, information was simple and in light of competition from the bigger high street/online bike store rides, seemed subdued.

Having entered, the rider pack received via email was everything I would expect from an organised ride - full route breakdown and information on feed stations and facilities at ride HQ. The rider pack also allowed access to the GPS files via

The Ride:

The Ride HQ was situated a little distance from the parking area but adjacent to the start line, toilets and changing rooms. Registration opened promptly at 7am where registration was based on rider number, the registration process was fairly simple due to the small numbers of riders. Having signed on, we were provided with timing chips, emergency route map and High5 energy gel products.

Registration at HQ

great malvern
View of Great Malvern and the first climb

The Malvern Spring Sportive comes as a combined package with entry to the Malvern Spring Garden Show, organisers are clearly aiming to provide a family experience with a day out for those not riding.

The event stats state 2666m of ascent for this ride, not shabby and certainly appropriate to describe it as "lumpy"! To put this ride into context, the Dragon Ride is often considered one of the most difficult rides on the sportive calendar at 3750m of climbing but in 216km, so we felt justified in treating this right with some respect and being mindful of the challenge that lay ahead.

The start time for all three rides was 8am, groups of 30/40 were set off following the usual safety briefing.

waiting for safety breifing
Waiting for the safety briefing before the off!

Setting off from the start line we navigated our way through the showground and towards Great Malvern. Set on the steep eastern flank of the Malvern Hills, Great Malvern is the commercial centre of west Worcestershire and is steeped in history. It is believed that early communities existed in Great Malvern from 1000BC, although the town was not formally established until the 11th century.

The route was fully signed with white arrows on a red background.

clearly visible signage
Clearly Visibly Signage

Within minutes of the start, we met the first of the climbs at Thirlstane Road, the early and relatively severe gradient soon sorting the wheat from the chaff with a number of riders struggling with the early gradient.

first climb
The First Climb Starts To Bite

At the top of the first climb, we took a sharp left turn and took it easier on the flatter roads towards Ledbury before turning again and heading in a North Westerly direction, crossing the boarder with Herefordshire towards Cradley, the largest village in Herefordshire.

the view from the first climb
The view from the top of the first climb, across the showground and beyond

Leaving Cradley, we continued North, back into Worcesterhsire and towards the small village of Suckley. Leaving Suckley we soon entered knightwick passing the Talbot Pub and the gateway to the next challenging ascent at Ankedine Hill.

Preparing for the Ankedine climb

As we wound our way up the climb we crossed the Worcestershire Way, a long distance walking route which traverses the county from Bewdley to Great Malvern - another day maybe! The effort in reaching the summit was all worthwhile for the view, although overcast, the views across Herefordshire from the viewpoint were magnificent.

the view from the first climb
The view from the top makes it all worthwhile.....maybe?

Onwards we rode and continuing North through Martley, then little Whitley before pushing up a few more "lumps" and reaching the first of the two long route feed stations. On the lead in to the feed station we passed the Halesowen road race, an impressive sight with NEG outriders doing an outstanding job keeping the riders safe. The feed station was basic but stocked with energy drink, biscuits, flapjack and bananas.

feed station
The first feed station, basic but welcome!

The next significant rise came at Stockton-on-Teme and took us past the 12th Century Norman Church of St Andrews. Heading south we crossed the river Teme at Stanford Bridge (not related to Chelsea FC.....that's with a "Muh" apparently!). Next on the trail North we passed through the villages of Pentax and Clows Top, after negotiating further lumps and bumps.

As we reached the Northern most tip of the ride, and before making the turn south west, we passed through the town of Cleobury Mortimer. Cleobury claims to be well furnished with pubs, where you can try Cleobury's own beer from the Towns local Hobson's Brewery

We continued to push on towards the second feedstation and navigated our way through the villages of Milson, Bickley and Newnham Bridge and the half way point in the ride. It was at this time that the heavens opened, going against the weather forecast, the rain lasted for the next 20 to 30 miles but didn't dampen our mood!

The next significant lump in the ride came after the 60 mile marker, having reached the summit, we freewheeled our way into the Herefordshire Market Town of Bromyard, with its mix of half timbered buildings (including some which date back to Norman times) and new build properties. We took advantage of the public facilities in Bromyard as the feed stations were not equipped!

taking advantage
Taking Advantage Of The Facilities In Bromyard

Thankfully we managed to get within the 15 minute time limit

Leaving Bromyard behind we climbed out of the valley and headed North, before finally reaching the second feed station, another basic affair out of the back of a car but the staff were very friendly, providing us with appropriate refreshments.

Having stuffed ourselves with biscuits and flapjack we headed north from the feed station before a 90 turn back towards the river Teme and the hamlets of Clifton upon Teme and Whitbourne, both have been the sites of settlements since Anglo Saxon times.

Between Whitbourne and the next climb we managed to bob up and down numerous lumps and bumps, eventually reaching the Fromes Hill climb, thankfully we ascended Fromes from a Easterly direction, saving the legs from the slightly more punishing Westerly climb.

Hitting the downhill from Fromes gave us a lift and meant we could pin our ears back and enjoy the ride. The next village we visited was Bosbury, claimed to be the final resting place of one of the Knights Templar and is another picturesque village on the route with black and white cottages a plenty.

Although some of the roads were a little rough, the worst sections were well signed

Leaving Bosbury, we were within our rights to hope for a nice freewheel into the finish, unfortunately the organisers had other ideas! With two final climbs remaining, we negotiated our way over two more leg stingers.

The penultimate climb came at Hollow Lane, into Wellington Heath, a small hamlet which achieved some notoriety in the 1980s after making a bid to become an independent state (all in the name of chaaaarity!).

The penultimate climb provides great views

The final and no less challenging climb was the climb to Wynds Point, historically one of the primary points for crossing the Malvern Hills and now navigable via the A449!! The summit of the climb is found at another viewpoint with stunning views across the Malverns and Herefordshire.

malvern hills
Malvern Hills Pub

The British Camp car park Wynds Point

Wynds Point marks the boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire, which we crossed for one final time passing the Malvern Hills Pub before descending into Little Malvern at a right old rate of knots (safely negotiating the hairpin bend!).

All that was left was the gentle amble (thrash) into the finish for a bacon roll and a nice hot cup of tea.

In summary, this ride should not be underestimated, in the wet and blustery conditions, it was a good challenge and tested the legs from beginning to end, the two longest climbs came 2 miles from the start and the same distance from the finish. The roads were mixed with some very rough sections, this was mitigated with clear warning signs.

The feed stations and facilities were basic but the route should sell this ride, especially for riders looking to prepare for some of the seasons more challenging sportives which are just around the corner. Would I do it again?......yep!

Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 6 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 10 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 7 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 7 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 10 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 86.7%

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1 Comment

13th May 2013 7:54pm Sean.Lacey wrote:

Ah, Ankerdine hill. I rode up that a couple of weeks ago on the Little Mountain TT, it's a tough one especially when trying to race up it!

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