20 CLASSIC SPORTIVE RIDES IN SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
20 CLASSIC SPORTIVE RIDES IN SOUTH EAST ENGLAND
Both by Colin Dennis
Both published by Cicerone
Both 128 pages
isbn 9781852847449 and 9781852847432
Colin Dennis has produced two guides that will be of great interest to any cyclist who likes a challenge in great countryside. With many miles in his legs, he is admirably qualified to guide us on these routes; a cheery attitude shines through in the text and will appeal to those who have thought about taking on bigger challenges but have not yet got round to it, or would rather not but like the idea.
Whilst many sportives are major events involving hundreds, if not thousands, of cyclists bent on bettering last year’s time; but newcomers and those seeking a day out on the bike are frequently catered for through a variety of distances and routes. Other sportives may be quite small events, with fewer riders and more of a club atmosphere. The author points this out and offers advice to both experienced and newcomer alike.
Neither book covers the hundred-mile routes of some sportives. Most pf the routes are around the forty to sixty-five mile mark or thereabouts. This makes it especially useful for anyone preparing for a new season of events or looking to build up stamina for a “big one.” Equally they give the opportunity to test out one’s ability before joining the crowds up Box Hill or elsewhere. And, actually, these routes would make interesting day rides at a more leisurely pace; refreshment information is given and one can always double (or treble) the times suggested as suitable for the route.
Routes on Bodmin Moor, Exmoor, Dartmoor, the Cotswolds, New Forest, the Downs and Weald and Chilterns, amongst other southern hills, cannot be flat. Nor is that desirable from the point of view of the challenge rider. Mr. Dennis has sought out hilly sportives. Take a look at the route profiles.
For the cyclists travelling at more of a touring pace, the hills make for good views, and grand airy cycling. Many of these routes would make good touring routes with a challenge, though none would be for the faint-hearted. Of course, there’s no need to rush, but, should you wish to do so, then the advice and guidance is here.
Route directions are brief and to the point and there is little in the way of notes on what there is to see along the way. That is not the point of the book. Additional weight is unwanted, and one suspects that the speedster will download the digital routes available. In that sense it will be a planning book, though it fits easily in a jersey pocket and there is sufficient detail to help with refreshments and accommodation.
Common sections of road enable many of the routes to link to another, making a longer challenge easily for those who want it. Some have short-cuts to make a route easier or to give the opportunity to bail. A quick look at the maps will indicate opportunities for other alternatives. Sometimes serpentine routes seeking the best challenges in the best countryside do not make for the most direct routes, but they do provide really good cycling.
So, a book of do-it-yourself sportives or challenge tours, great for preparation, great for a good day out great for encouraging cyclists who want to step up to the big, big challenges. I really enjoyed reading these routes and following them in my memory and on the map. A really interesting addition to the library.
But what I'd really like to know is how two cyclists manage such broad smiles at the top of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury? Relief, yes, but smiles ... must ne all those sportives.
REVIEW PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2106