So I rode the Lionheart Sportive at Longleat last weekend for the second time and I have to say the event was as great as year one.
A fantastic route, with friendly co-riders, amazing feed stations and excellent weather. The only regret was my winter bike choice for the day with its standard 9 speed gearing (50/34 / 12-25) which was a grind up the Alfred's Tower Climb. In hindsight though perhaps the winter bike was the correct choice as farm machinery had certainly left a great deal of mud on the road in the Stourton forest and the rolling roads back towards Frome. At times it felt like Paris - Roubaix which I have to admit was very exciting, scrubbing just enough speed before hitting "tractor turn" corners. I do love that sense of "Old School" riding when we didn't worry about road surfaces or even what bike you had...just point those 23c tyres where you want (and hope) them to go, ride light and hang on.
Chapeau to the feed stations with an amazing choice of quality food and masses of it. We feasted on coffee and cake at both stations before tapping out a rhythm again. In truth the 1st station is probably too close to the start at just 15 miles, but after the field splitting hill climb start out of the Longleat Estate we relaxed and had a coffee with friends from the local bike shops in Bath and Bristol. It's great to see so many people from the local bike trade / scene support the event.
The second feed station at 38 miles is positioned just after the lovely Bruton village and just before the infamous Alfred's Tower Climb, which this year included a timed ascent aided by the helmet chips we were all wearing. I passed a 58-year-old lady on the steepest part of the climb; she was walking despite her granny ring and when I challenged her..."you should be riding with that granny ring"...she replied "I am a granny and I choose to walk this bit." Fair reply I thought...chapeau and I eased on.
It's a great ride from the top of Alfred's monument with rolling hills and some nice vistas all the way back to Longleat. This year the organizers included a nice 2km climb at the end (last years event measured just short) just before the uber fast descent down the main drive; and this last climb was a swine with many painful faces after 98KM. But hey ho, you earn your descents with any cycling and the ride down the main drive was all out. Remember, no sprinting, this is not a race, right?
101.5KM of rolling quiet roads. Cake , coffee and friends.
What's not to like, sign me up for 2013.
ps mental note... compact or 10 speed.