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Cyclosport's Best Events Of 2012

by Henry Peacock

We asked our writers to contribute their best ride(s) of the 2012 season. Do you think they are a fair assessment? Tell us what your best ride of 2012 was, we want to hear!

Jennifer Trotman:
It's been a mad year!  I've done more sportives than I would ever have thought possible. Unlike previous years, none of them have been disastrous from an organisational point of view. Some of them have been when it comes to mechanicals or weather, but you can't blame anyone for those! So it's hard to pick out what my best ride of the year is.

There's the rides that are great because I survived the weather - Mad March Hare, Mario Cipollini Gran Fondo, Bristol Belter. The rides with steep hills that I made it up without stopping - King Alfred's Tower on the Endura Lionheart, Blissford Hill on the Wiggle New Forest 100s.  The challenging rides - big in distance and/or climbing that I made it around - the Tour of Pembrokeshire, Dartmoor Classic, Etape Cymru. Then there was my big goal for the year, the Maratona dles Dolomites, for which all the others were really almost training. 

On reflection, for UK events the best ride of the year has to be a tie for me between the Tour of Pembrokeshire and the Dartmoor Classic. Both a challenge, both with stunning scenery, and both really well organised. Long, hard, but lovely days in the saddle.

Tour of Pembrokeshire Coastal Descents

Dartmoor Classic Sweeping Descents

But for me?  My best event of the year has to be the Maratona. There's something about standing on the top of a mountain and knowing you cycled up there.

Maratona - Me Stood At The Top Of The Giau

James Berresford:
Despite real life keeping me from my bike a little more than I'd liked this year, there have still been many cycling highlights. A new  event; the South Hams, "The Hammer" back in April sticks in the mind particularly, for its breath-taking views of Devon countryside and coastline.

The Hammer Was A Beauty

May took me back to the West Country again for my first but definitely not last Tour of Wessex. A classic ride and the challenging route, high standard of riding and variety of terrain make it easy to see why.

But probably my number one highlight was my trip to the Etape du tour Act II, a monster 200km through the Pyrenees following the route of stage 16 of the Tour de France. A trip made so special by not only the epic riding, which was a new level for me in its self, but also riding the roads and then getting to watch what went on to be such a historic victory.

Bagneres de Luchon on Acte II

Caven O'Hara:
Director Jorgen Leth named his 1976 film covering Paris - Roubaix, A Sunday in Hell. What had I got myself into? Having agreed back in January to take part as a way of celebrating a friend's birthday, it seemed like a good idea. One of those comments thrown into the conversation after a few ales! Paris-Roubaix 2012 was up and running.

The facts of the event are, 210Km at least 50 clicks shorter than the pros rode in April but without missing any of the famed sections of pavé. That means almost a quarter of the distance was ridden on the tough, unrelenting cobblestones. In truth it was unlike anything I had ridden, ever! There were no significant hills but when you have 34 sections of pave, what climbing do you need?

As luck would have it, despite being delayed several hours on the crossing to France due to high winds, the day itself was dry and wind free - bonus! An early start set the tone for a very long day in the saddle. You cannot describe what it feels like to ride over pave, it defies words unless you've ridden them. Yes my hands were blistered at the end, yes I was knackered but to arrive in the famous Velodrome - nothing will top that.

Satisfied To Finish!

Jon Cook:
My best ride for 2012 was La Doyenne ("The Oldest"), which runs in the Ardennes region of Belgium from Liege to Bastogne and back. Amateur cyclists were given the opportunity to ride one of the five 'Monuments' of the European professional road-racing calendar the day before the professionals tackled what is dubbed arguably the toughest of all the classics in horrendous weather conditions which included freezing temperatures, torrential rain and occasional hail. Character building stuff.

Riding Like Mad In The Rain

Riding 162 miles with nearly 5000m of climbing in April is something I hadn't done before and was certainly a daunting prospect. I still recall now as we meandered our way over the 'roof' of Belgium at a fairly brisk pace arriving at the first feed stop at around 50km. I was feeling pretty good and delighted by the sight of food although a hot cup of tea would have been heavenly on a day like that. Linking up with a small bunch of riders afterwards we tackled the Col du Maquisard with another 10% gradient. I spoke with one local who once discovered I was English looked at me and remarked: "You have come all the way from England to cycle in the rain? You must be crazy". This actually made my day!

I really enjoyed my foray into The Ardennes and thought it was a worthy alternative to Le Etape Du Tour although not on closed roads. Despite the terrible weather the event was really well organised and offered excellent value for the entry fee. Cycling the route the day before the professionals and staying in the same hotel as team Astana was a real highlight and a fitting end to the Classics season.

Mark Tearle:
2012 has been somewhat bitter sweet. Increased pressure at the day job has prevented me from riding and reporting on as many events as I normally would have, though I am stronger and fitter than I have been in previous years. Those events I have attended have been of such a high calibre it is difficult to choose a highlight, but one that does stick out to me is Action Medical Research Ride 24.

There are four reasons for this, firstly the AMR Ride 24 is such a brilliant event, well organised and in support of a great charity. Secondly, the weather - we had a rubbish summer didn't we - the weather over that 24 hour period was just absolutely abysmal and only added to what was already a very difficult challenge. Thirdly, the team camaraderie was wonderful, Sean, Caven, Howie and myself; we came together and raced as a perfect unit and despite it all we did very well. And lastly, and most importantly, it was the last time I saw Howie J. Rest his poor soul, he is sorely missed.

You can watch the video of the event here:

Sean Lacey:
2012 has been a fantastic year for me in the cycling world, with my fitness really excelling my expectations and a number of great events throughout the year in my new role with Cyclosport.

Trying To Look Cool In Front Of The Camera

There have been many highlights, with not a truly bad day's riding. The endurance challenges of Ride24 and Cyclothon have given me a new avenue of pursuit, while established events like the Cheshire Cat and Etape Cymru really raised their game this year. The trip to the Isle of Man was particularly memorable for being almost 'foreign' and a stunning place to ride, but this year's number one for me was the Wild Wales Challenge. A long running event, everything came together that day. The weather, my form, and the spectacular Welsh countryside were at one with each other that sunny Sunday. It was the only event this year that had me walking on a climb, but even that can't detract from what was a perfect day out on the bike. Personally I can't wait for next year and the challenges ahead!

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1 Comment

8th November 2012 2:44pm Herbie wrote:

Great article - makes me realise how lucky we are to live in this era of CycloSportives - so many to choose from. Though I did the Paris-Roubaix cyclo back in 1985, and that seems to have changed little, down to the little commemorative cobbles you get too! Also I agree with everyone here - they're all the best Sportives - Flanders, Etape Cymru, Paris-Roubaix, Etape du Tour, so many great British ones too now - but have to agree with Jennifer that the best of the best is the Maratona dles Dolomites - it's just breath-takingly good!