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Wiggle Ups and Downs REVIEW

by James Berresford

Despite starting close to Dorking, the re-scheduled Wiggle Ups & Downs refreshingly eschewed some of the more obvious climbs of the North Downs, instead taking in a variety of interesting and lesser known hills and scenery of the area with the climbing loaded at the front and back of the ride. The mechanical and in ride support were second to none and this time round the weather even played along.

Essentials:
Distances: 160 km / 113 km / 63 km
Entry fee: £26 / £24 / £16
Start: Friends Life Building, Pixham End, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1QA 
Feed-stops:   3 / 2 / 1
Catering: Sandwiches, snacks and bars available at the start with a free tea or coffee
Timed:  Yes (Helmet stickers)
Signs: Clear, white arrows on a red background, hazards well signed.
Roads:  Generally OK, Some rough surfacing. 
Swag: Maxifuel pack for early bookings, Bidon, Cycling-Plus Magazine, Muc-Off, Maxifuel and 9-bar samplers.
Route:   http://www.strava.com/rides/wiggle-ups-downs-sportive-2012-epic-8939248 

The Wiggle Ups and Downs Sportive was originally scheduled for the 29th April however after a weekend of extreme weather resulting in flooded roads, fallen trees not to mention the Biblical rain the organisers took the difficult and correct decision of postponing it to May 20th.


At the start-line

The ride was based in Dorking, a Surrey town bordering the North Downs which has become a mecca for road cycling due to its proximity to London and variety of hills. Interest in the area has vastly increased since the inclusion of nearby Box Hill in the Olympic road route.

However, after a brief, efficient sign-on and leaving headquarters, instead of heading towards Box Hill we instead swung west in the direction of Guildford, opening with a climb of Ranmore Road. Twenty five kilometres of hills following before dropping down into Cranleigh into the more gently undulating terrain which was typical of the middle section of the ride. 


Quiet country lanes

The first feed station came at Dunsfold and was well stocked with Maxifuel drink and gels in addition to the usual selection of cakes, sweets and more unusual and welcome; sandwiches. Minor climbs of Hascombe Hill and Brighton road followed. Somewhere near Chiddingfold, I dropped my chain and in spinning with it off managed to twist a link making the subsequent miles less and less fun as the chain slipped at irregular intervals. I was beginning to worry whether it would hold but limped on to the second feed in Ifold.

The mechanical support couldn't have been more helpful, I wheeled my bike up and was told to go get some food and drink and by the time I'd returned the chain was straightened and I was ready to roll with some good advice for a more permanent fix.

Back on the road and throughout the ride the distinctive bright orange Wiggle van was seen regularly en route giving me some confidence in the support and making me more willing to ride with a weakened chain.


Heading back on to the downs

The ride pushed on north re-joining the downs close to Ewhurst and another series of climbs followed from Holmesbury to the mountain biking areas close to Peaslake, dropping into the village before pushing on the to the long climbs of Broom Hall and Abinger roads.


Suffering on the vicious White Down

The pièce de résistance was the final big climb of White Down a vicious 2km , 9%-er that had many tired legs walking. The climb is due to be used in the final stage of this year's Tour of Britain into Guildford and I look forward to seeing the pros suffer up there in September.

All that remained was a cruise downhill to ride HQ where a selection of food and drink and post event massage were on offer.





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