Someone over on an alternative forum (I know I shouldn't be viewing them!) has taken me to task over my praise of this weekends "Flat out in the Fens" sportive organised by Kilotogo.

I made the mistake of saying that this tough warm flat and fast event was a good event and should be repeated.

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but I am here to stand up for the fens and those of us who live and work here (and also cycle and train here).

For me it was a great experience (regular readers of my blog will know I love that word!!) to ride on local roads, the terrain I know well.

I am sure for the other riders it was nice to do something different and be able to see the vanishing point on the horizon as they ride.

And despite not being the "Cat and Fiddle" or "Kirkstone Pass", you still need to be a tough rider to prosper on these bumpy little tracks and wide open droves.

The wind is enough to knock you off and I reckon a Drove or two in a cross or head wind is as good a workout as climbing a medium gradient hill.

This is some footage from Easter 2008 I shot with my mobile phone.

I think it is different to the norm of climbing hills and that is why people belittle it.

Ask most people who rattled round the fens and nearly 19mph average on Sunday how easy it was though!

So I am here to use my column to ask that you give the fens a try before deciding they aren't for you.

It is a different sort of cycling for sure, but how many hills are in Paris Roubaix?

James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 


Tony Farrelly [2948 posts] 9 years ago

Sounds superb to me Jimmy - I'd love to do a long ride on the flat (not because I think it would be easier cos I know it wouldn't) but it would make a real change from the the sort of riding on offer in these parts. My parents used to live on the edge of the Fens and they had a great piece of road nearby between Feltwell and the A10 - one enormous straight up on a dyke with two slight bends at either end - often with a car in the ditch next to them - always wanted to ride that road

Hills V flat in the wind - well I remember slogging up Bannerdown a big old hill north east of Bath one February a couple of years ago and then trying to ride across the mile long plateau on the top while being battered by a cross wind that nearly knocked me off twice: the first time simply with its raw power; and the second when it momentarily stopped thus making leaning into it at 30 deg a very bad idea indeed, especially next to a ditch. That mile on the flat was definitely harder than the previous one up the hill.

PaulTh [1 post] 8 years ago

Well said. We are in the final stages of prep for our charity event, the Wind Prospect Fens Challenge near Spalding (www.midlandtrailquests.co.uk) and came across this blog while promoting the event.

This is the third year we've run this, and initially there was a lot of scepticism regarding a trailquest in the Fens - too easy they all thought! Now they know better, and many consider it one of the hardest events in the series - and most enjoyable. The wind, and the Sea Bank around The Wash are a good match for most hills I know !

James Warrener [1086 posts] 8 years ago

Amen to that!