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Tour Of Wessex - Medium Rides + Wendy Houvenaghel Video

by Adam Tranter

As Sir Brad Wiggins enters the final stages of the Giro this May, thousands of sportive riders from across the world will be hoping to create their own little piece of Wiggo magic on the twists, turns and gradients of Somerset's roads.

They will travel down for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend to take part in the seventh Tour of Wessex (25-27th May), which is reputed to be one of the World's largest multi-stage sportives; last year alone more than 2,500 riders from 20 different countries notched up 211,605 miles between them. Tally up the total combined ascent of the medium and long routes over the 3 days and the figure - 27,162ft - is just shy of the Summit of Mount Everest.

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Are You Ready?

Despite its tough appearance though, more riders than ever have signed up for the single-day ride options thanks to the new medium routes introduced by organiser Nick Bourne of Pendragon Sports Ltd.

"While almost a thousand riders have already signed up for the 3-day ride option, our single day rides and the new medium routes are proving really popular with UK and international Sportives fans. There is also a lot of interest in the British Cycling Breeze Rides and children's Grass track races we are hosting. Most encouraging though are the sheer number of enquiries from families, first-time sportive riders and those inspired by our Olympians, illustrating just how popular our sport really is in this country."

Weaving through quintessentially English countryside, there is more to the routes than meets the eye according to Nick.

"The Tour is not simply a sporting event, it's designed to be a two-wheeled tourist trail through Somerset and Dorset, with each individual stage featuring its own unique mix of monuments, history and challenging terrain. Ultimately we are aiming to establish Somerset as the cycling capital of the South West and the very best way to enjoy the region, its history and its highlight. This is why we've introduced so many different elements, from The Pop-Up Hotel to the on-site Somerset Food & Drink Festival and, of course, the medium routes."

tour of wessex
One Of The Biggest Multi Day Sportives Available

Stage 1 will see riders tackling classic climbs like Cheddar Gorge and King Alfreds Tower, while on Sunday they will weave through the Lulworth Ranges and along the spectacular and rugged Jurassic Coast. It is Stage 3's Porlock Toll Road climb up onto Exmoor that really captures what this event is all about though. Built in 1840, this four and half mile climb remains one of the UK's most picturesque thanks to its stunning North Somerset coastal vistas.

It's also the place where most riders will likely question what it is they are doing. To help them along the way though, Nick and his team joined former World Champ and South West based cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel on her Exmoor training ride. Along the way they captured the day's highlights on film with Wendy's insights into the hardships of training, how to rule out self-doubt and the smugness of conquering a tough ride all designed to inspire Tour participants to get out and train.

Tour of Wessex 2013 from Pod Films on Vimeo.

"I've certainly questioned what I am doing on the number of occasions" Wendy said as she hugged a post-ride coffee. "But I can quickly get rid of any negativity by thinking about the bigger picture, and that doing what I am doing at that moment will help me achieve the bigger goal."

Wise words indeed and ones that have no doubt crossed the mind of Sir Brad many-a-time too. So let us just hope Wiggo Fever returns to the UK this Spring Bank Holiday weekend as he takes victory in the Tour of Italy, inspiring thousands to conquer Somerset's finest roads among some of the UK's most beautiful landscapes.

It's not too late to start training for the Tour of Wessex, with places still available on the single-day and 3-day ride options. Prices start from £30 per person for the medium rides and £35pp for Standard distance rides. The 3-day ride option starts from £90pp (medium distance).

For more information visit:

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