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Cyclosport's Favourite Events of 2014

by Nick Gregory

Nick Gregory

Deputy Editor, Nick Gregory made the most of his first full season with Cyclosport - taking on everything from a 300km lap of Mallorca to a 24hr London to Paris ride. 

Paris-Roubaix Challenge 

Wherever you look there seems to be no shortage of sportive organisers claiming to offer participants 'the genuine pro experience' - with neutral service vehicles, closed roads and post-event massages. The Paris-Roubaix Challenge didn't have any of these things; and yet, in many ways, it offered much more insight into the world of pro cycling. For what it did have was suffering, and lots of it.  

As you are tossed like a rag doll across every one of the 28 bone-rattling sections of cobbles that make up the 'Hell of the North', it is impossible not to be blown away by the sheer brutally of the event, and the super-human strength and determination possessed by those who do this professionally. Remarkably, I didn't puncture, I didn't crash and I survived. It might sound like hyperbole, but with this event, that really is the aim. It's also the appeal of it though, and whilst there are other events out there which are longer, or more mountainous, there is nothing quite as attritional. It truly is one of a kind.  

The madness of Roubaix...

Coast to Coast in a Day 

Riding across the country from coast to coast is on the bucket list for many cyclists. A few years ago Open Cycling threw down the gauntlet for anyone brave enough to attempt it as a single day sportive - 150 miles and 4,500m of climbing from Seascale on the West coast to Whitby on the East coast. The route takes riders from the mountainous Lake District, through the undulating Yorkshire Dales, along the flat Vale of York before tackling the vicious North York Moors on the final leg to Whitby.  

With most 'out-and-back' sportives you don't get the sense of accomplishment that comes from arriving at a feed station, looking at a map and knowing where you've come from, and where you're going to - you don't feel like you're on a journey. Coast to Coast in a day isn't just a bike ride, it's an adventure in the old school sense, and there's something refreshing about the simplicity and toughness of the event. It does, in many ways, represent the essence of cycling: freedom and exploration, all set on the most beautiful of stages.  

The organisation is completely faultless: the pre-event information was comprehensive, the signage was brilliant, the feed stations were as good as any I've come across in the UK, and perhaps most impressively of all, unlike many events which feature aggressive time cut offs and particularly over-zealous broom wagons, Open Cycling will support the stragglers for as long as it takes. To put that in context, the last rider emerged out of the pitch darkness in Whitby - to a hero's welcome - at 1.30am.  

The top of Hardknott Pass on Coast to Coast in a day - 135 miles to go...

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