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Dani King - Why the Chilterns Offer the Best Cycling Close to London

by Nick Gregory

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The Chiltern 100 sportive on Sunday, 15 May is a fantastic opportunity to discover some of the UK's most enjoyable - not to mention challenging - road cycling.  

The quiet country lanes and the spectacular scenery of the route feel a world away from the congested urban roads of London, and yet the Chilterns are within easy reach of the capital either by road, rail or, of course, bike.  

Hills, and lots of them, are the order of the day at the Chiltern 100, making it the toughest sportive close to the capital. There's barely a mile of flat on a route that takes in 21(!) of the area's toughest climbs.  

Olympic gold medallist, Dani King had this to say about the route: "The Chiltern 100's collection of short, steep climbs are a real test of your resolve, and your gearing! Getting up them is a great achievement in itself, but with hills coming one after the other, the route gives a great opportunity for some hill-repeat training without the boredom of attacking the same stretch of road over and over again."  

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The 110-mile Gran Fondo packs in 2,700m of vertical climbing, with the Medio Fondo still managing a punchy 1,900m over its 76 mile route. Of course, what goes up must come down, and there are plenty of steep and technical descents to enjoy on the Chiltern 100.  

As King points out, for pro cycling aficionados the route is reminiscent of an Ardennes Classic: "The route profile reminds me of Liege-Bastogne-Liege with its jagged spikes reflecting the steep climbs and descents."  

Some of the world's top pros have in fact ridden in the Chilterns themselves recently, with parts of the Chiltern 100 route featuring in both the men's and women's versions of the Tour of Britain.  

Then World Champion, Michal Kwiatowski was one of the fastest up Chinnor Hill on stage six in 2014. "I couldn't help but notice that on a popular ride tracking website I'm still 'Queen of the Mountain' on a climb just outside Albury that riders will tackle during the Chiltern 100," said King. "Maybe someone will beat my time at this year's event!"  

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As well as one of the most challenging, the Chiltern 100 is also one of the most beautiful sportives in the calendar - as you would expect from a ride through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   

King identified the appropriately named Bison Hill as her favourite climb on the course: "On the way up, you pass Whipsnade Zoo and you can see the Bison. I doubt that's a sight many people see on their daily rides and it certainly distracts you from your aching legs for a couple of minutes."  

The Chiltern 100 has its roots in the cycling club scene, and founders VCC are still involved in the organisation of the event. As a result, there is a great atmosphere of camaraderie on the day, with everyone offering each other plenty of encouragement in making it to the finish line. The regular feed stations with their various tasty offerings will make sure you've got enough fuel in the tank as well.  

For more information visit www.humanrace.co.uk/cycling.