Archive REVIEW: Wiggle Ups and Downs Sportive

by Adam Tranter

Words and Images: Caven O'Hara

Distances: 98/68/45 miles
Start: Friends Provident, Pixham Lane, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1QA
Transport: Dorking and Dorking Deepdene stations less than a mile away
Feedstops: fun route 1, standard and epic 3
Timed: Yes - timings strips attached to the helmet
Signs: White arrows on distinctive red backgrounds and labelled for each route
Road: A good selection of minor and major roads

With over 24 million gripped by the recent royal wedding this was another royal feast served up for the participants in the fourth event of the Wiggle Super Series. Temperatures in the low twenties, clear skies and a great route made this a must do sportive when selecting rides for 2011.

Set within such close proximity to the riding mecca that is the North Downs this would be a ride that included some serious climbing and there was little to disappoint.

The Ride:
The team of organisers led by Martin ensured the day was hugely successful from the off. Sign on was quick and efficient, with clear signage allowing the riders to collect the essentials before the start. The use of the Friends Provident premises provided plenty of parking and an ideal venue for the race HQ.

Leaving the HQ the ride headed alongside the A24 in the shadow of the iconic Box Hill; a climb that will feature several times in next year's Olympic road race. Before the roundabout that leads to the bottom of the zigzag road we turned left into Chapel Lane and the first of several testing climbs that appeared throughout the route.

This early on in the ride the 14 per cent climb had many gasping as barely warmed up legs were forced to grind their way to the top. A brief stint on the A246 followed before heading towards the heart of the North Downs once more, this time in the direction of Ranmore Lodge. Turning west up Crocknorth Road took the riders out towards Gomshall and one particularly tight left turn, but safely round that we crossed the A25 and south into the Surrey countryside.

After the arduous start the route still offered little respite as even the flatter section required effort. As Cranleigh came and went the route split, the fun route riders turning east as the other two routes turned west towards Dunsfold, the filming location for Top Gear. Prior to the motoring hot spot the first feed station flashed by at 45 kms.

Those doing the Epic ride were then sent on a loop up to Godalming and Chiddingfold before re-joining the standard route riders south of Dunsfold. Now in the flatter region of the Low Weald any riders looking for a cruise back towards Dorking were soon dispelled of this notion as a strong headwind buffeted the course round Foxwood and Loxwood. The only respite offered was the excellently stocked feed station outside Plaistow. With cakes, sandwiches, bananas and jelly beans on offer, there was plenty for everyone.

As the route headed north towards Ewhurst there was always much to admire as the scenery flashed past: huge fields of yellow oil-seed rape flowers, punctuated by woodlands and paddocks.

The epic and standard rides split for the final time at Ewhurst Green with those like myself undertaking the shorter route it was time to head onto the A29 and towards the day's final foray into the North Downs. The sting in the tail was to be a climb up Leith Hill, or was it?

Leith Hill hosts many well known off-road trails such as Regurgitator, Summer Lightning and Deliverance, but the road climb was worth it for the views at the top. The highest point in the South-East is said to provide views of the English Channel on a clear day. I didn't pause long enough to verify this, but none the less the panoramic vista was pretty impressive.

Having skirted Wotton and Abinger Commons the real sting was about to be revealed in all its 18 per cent glory! The climb is a tough test late on in any ride. It's narrow and fairly unforgiving, but once over the top the body can relax as the route skirts round the southern side of Ranmore Common and heads back to base. There we were greeted by Martin and his crew handing out finisher packs and medals.

Likes: The excellent organisation and signage - facilities at HQ were great.
Dislikes: The state of the roads! (beyond the organisers control)

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2nd June 2011 10:46pm Admin wrote:

I'm told that White Down hill, although signposted as 18%, has a maximum gradient of 19.3% for a short while. It's the toughest hill I've ever cycled up and I'm very pleased to say that I made it, albeit only just.

2nd June 2011 10:46pm Admin wrote:

It was my first ever Wiggle Event and only my second ever sportive since I started Cycling in January. I tackled the Standard Route of 69 miles (21 more than I had ever Cylcled!). Really well organised, feed stations fantastic, route clearly marked and I had a really great experience. The last 2 hills were absolute killers, but I managed to cycle them both (Albeit slowly). Can't wait to do the longer distance next year!! Well Done Wiggle.

2nd June 2011 10:46pm Admin wrote:

Loved the Epic ride with enough climbs to get me ready for Dragon Ride. Sting of last climb was painful but I knew what was coming so just kept on pedalling (although walking would have been faster).

2nd Wiggle event and will do more ...

2nd June 2011 10:46pm Admin wrote:

agree that some of the roads were just terrible...well organised event though, high quality flapjacks helped me up scale Whitedown...