Event Review

REVIEW: Chiltern 100 Sportive 2015

by Andy Dawson

GB Flag

REVIEW: Chiltern 100 Sportive 2015 

Date: 31 May 2015
Distances: 180km Gran Fondo / 120km Medio Fondo
Entry fee: £40/£42
Start: Bovingdon airfield, near Chesham
Feedstops: 3 on Gran / 2 on Medio
Catering: coffee at start, burgers at end
Timed: yes, strip on helmet and result texted to you after finishing
Signs: yes, plenty plus advisory
Roads:  frame breaking potholes, plenty of gravel, distressed tarmac
Goody bag: bottle of water, magazine

The Chiltern 100 is billed as the toughest sportive close to the capital.  It offers 2 distances: the epic Gran Fondo 180km version goes over every notable hill in the Chilterns (bar one), and the Medio Fondo takes a slightly more sensible 120km approach. 

I've done the Gran so this year thought I'd have a go at the Medio.  I was cycling with clubmates from the new Berkhamsted CC, who regularly ride many of the roads on this sportive. We had 25 entrants, half and half between the Gran and Medio. Organisers, Human Race had neatly given us collective start times so there was no tension over meeting up or not being able to roll out together.


The weather was awful. Approaching the Bovingdon airfield event HQ from London led to a long queue of cars trickling into the carpark. We were within sight of the start with black Human Race flags fluttering in the wind and rain. Queuing was preferable to cycling. Parking was well marshalled and pretty soon there was nothing left to do but get out of the car and start prepping bike and rider. Multiple rain tops, thick gloves and absolutely no need for sunglasses. Where were my winter tyres, mudguards and lights? 

The mood was grim; cyclists were tooling around the start area with bemused/pained expressions. Marshalls were corralling us into pens whilst a PA announced the last of the Gran Fondo starts.  It was 8.30 and we were in one of the first waves of the Medio Fondo. A short and inaudible briefing from the starter using a megaphone but competing with a nearby generator and plenty of rain led to us scootering under the inflatable arch and out into the road.

Pretty quickly a range of cyclist skills were on display with people weaving about and others stopping dead in the middle of groups.  The Chiltern 100 is very popular with thousands of entries and I suspect that the Medio route was where the less experienced, non-club rider was going to be.

First challenge

Signage and support was top notch. Bad road surfaces and tricky descents were all signed up and there were marshals at many of the junctions. An oil spill in Berkhamsted had three marshals to make sure we didn't slide. Plenty of motorcycle support was also around. It's on bad weather days that you appreciate all this help. There was a good scattering of cyclists at the side of the road mending punctures, often with a motorcyclist in attendance. Later on a serious 'off' on Ashridge was being capably dealt with by another NEG motorcyclist. 

The Medio Fondo followed the Gran Fondo route for much of its distance and that meant we got to ride up Bison Hill and over Dunstable Downs.  There was a lot of us on the road in heavy rain and we started to encounter some frustrated car drivers who were overtaking clumps of riders and sometimes even overtaking other cars who were being more sensible. 

Food stop pain

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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) 9 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 10 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 9 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 9 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 8 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 8 out of 10
Overall Rating 85.6%