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Surrey Legs of Steel REVIEW

by Holly Blades

Words and Images by James Berresford: A firm favourite with a lot of the London club riders and it's really easy to see why. It's a beautiful ride and the relatively short course over the punchy, familiar climbs of Surrey make it a fantastic ride to throw all your end of season form at. A great part of the world to ride, well organised by an enthusiastic team, and what could be better than a Box Hill finish?

Distances: 46 km / 81 km
Participants: 600  (Sold out over a month before)
Start: Box Hill, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7LB
Cost: £25
Transport: Parking at Box Hill visitors centre Westhumble and Dorking stations nearby
Feedstops: 1 / 2
Timed: Yes (Old school manually taking numbers, seemed to work fine)
Signs: Clear Black Arrows on a yellow background, hazards marked and climbs numbered
Road: Mixed, this bit of Surrey is pretty bad for potholes
My Ride:

The ride

As I arrived at the event from Westhumble Station I had an extra Box Hill climb to stretch the legs even before the real games began. Reaching the top it was clear how popular this event was as riders already lined the lane from the start line at the National Trust café to as far as I could see. Despite the large number of entrants registration was quick and very slick with many volunteers on hand to help people through.

I took my place at the end of the queue and we moved along fairly quickly as riders were briefed and released in groups of ten. 81k was the shortest I'd ridden in a while and I was keen to post a decent time so left the blocks pretty quickly, dropping down Box Hill as fast as was comfortable, crossing the main road climbing over Ranmor Common, towards Dorking then over Coldharbour Lane.

The ride was on pretty familiar territory for me and probably for many of the participants as the Surrey hills form the basis of most peoples riding in south London and surrounds. The organisers had numbered the climbs, eight major ones in total which would help if you got lost but was also good for pacing or just crossing them off the list. Winterfold (1.5km at 9.2%) was probably the most challenging of the day around the half-way point.

It had been a glorious morning but about an hour in, the heavens opened, only a short shower but enough to wet the roads and make you a bit more wary on descents. As the ride was short I'd decided against stopping at the feeds but was pleasantly surprised as I passed through the first one and volunteers were handing out bananas and cake as people rode through. I think a lot of people had their eye on the clock and the onus seemed to be on staying on the bike throughout. So much so in fact I unwittingly witnessed one guy having in an on bike toilet break, a sportive first and a bit of a hazard in a crosswind.

The ride pressed on with the climbing coming thick and fast; White Lane (1.1km at 8.9%), Combe Lane (1.4km at 7.8%) and Crocknorth (0.7km at 9.3%). But Box Hill is really the hill, in these parts. Not really remarkable in length or steepness but it takes some beating in year round views and with the café at the top and now its inclusion in the Olympic road course it's a real cycling mecca and a great way to finish a really enjoyable ride.

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