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Wiggle Devils Punch Sportive 2013 PREVIEW

by Mark Tearle

After selling out for the second consecutive year, the latest edition of the Wiggle Devils Punch Sportive boasts a new starting venue - Godalming College. The course weaves through the quiet, leafy roads between the North and South Downs, looping around the stunning Devils Punch Bowl, before briefly heading up into the challenging North Downs.

According to local legend the Devil's Punch Bowl was created when the Devil leapt from Sussex into Surrey just before dawn after rampaging and ripping up the landscape attempting to flood the area because he was a little irked that Sussex had too many churches...or at least that is what Wikipedia says.

I paraphrased a little, but of special note is that the A3 (Portsmouth to London road) used to skirt around the Devil's Punchbowl leading to daily traffic tail backs from the pinch point at Hindhead.  All fixed now of course with the building of the Hindhead Tunnel which to the benefit of cyclists has left the roads surrounding the area delightfully bereft of gas guzzling vehicles.

Seizing the opportunity UK Cycling Events has taken advantage of the quiet roads and designed a stunning Cyclosportive taking place on the 3rd November, with a course that skirts into Hampshire to the west, tiptoes serenely around the commons of the Punch Bowl and ambles around the Waverly district of Surrey to the east.

On the day that I previewed the ride with Martin of UK Cycling Events there wasn't a soul in sight and the venue was eerily silent, just the sound of the crows. This will be different on the day though, with the cool air of November and the chattering of cyclists preparing themselves for a long day in the saddle.

There are two route choices for the day, the Epic which is shortened to 75 miles being so late on in the season and a Standard 50 mile challenge. Despite the fact that this Sportive misses out the more challenging hills in the North and South Downs there is still 1400 meters of climbing to conquer, so a little bit of preparation will no doubt be necessary for those taking on the longer Epic route, which still includes a couple of testing hills to get the legs pumping and amazing descents to get the heart racing. 

There are two feed stops en route, where you will be spoilt with hot drinks, fresh cut sandwiches and the usual sportive delights, including High 5 gels and energy drink, Eat Natural bars and bananas.  

You can expect all of the usual services and sophistication of a sportive run by UK Cycling Events, including ample venue parking, toilets and other facilities, mechanical support, full route marking, electronic chip timing, bike washing facilities and emergency support.  For those needing a hot drink and something to eat before and after their ride there will be on site catering too.    

Further details and event entry can be found at

Oh, and what's more, riders under the age of 16 can enter for free when accompanied by a paying adult. 

With all this in mind, the Devil's Punch promises to be a great way to end the cycling year before the monotony of the rollers or the turbo-trainer.  Get out there and ride!