We've ridden the new 100km course for the Mountain Mayhem Sunday Munch sportive that'll take place on Sunday 19 June. And we like it, a lot: it's certainly an improvement on last year's course that was well liked by everyone that attended. Here's our video account of the recce, and some other thoughts too...
Out of the gate at Eastnor Deer Park it's a short, easy climb up to the main road and straight over onto the lanes through Bradlow and Westhill, climbing a short leg-warmer before dropping back down into Petty France. From there you can see the Malverns rising up directly in front of you, and after just 6km it's time for the first climb of the day, the ascent to Upper Colwall. The climb starts in earnest when you hang a right at Colwall Green, and from there it's 3.3km to the top at an average of 4.5%, with a steep 10% dig for about half a kilometre. Once you round the hairpin to turn on to the B4332 that's the climb conquered, and you can enjoy the majestic views to the west of the Malverns as you spin up the final section of the climb.
The descent takes you back through Colwall Stone; although this is a fairly major road the surface isn't great, so take care, especially on the hairpin. Once you're down you can relax and enjoy the view. The route through Bosbury is flat and well-surfaced, before the climb up to Frome's Hill, 2km at 4.6% with a steep section at the start. You drop back down on the main road, which is wide with a good surface and visibility; it's a right turn at the bottom though so take care.
Once you're across the main road you start to head east across the ridges. First up there's a climb to Acton Green (1.6km at 5.5%) and another short dig past Suckley before hitting the flat at Alfrick Pound. From here it's a flat run-in to Great Malvern on well-surfaced, quiet lanes with the Malverns ever present to the west. At Sherrard's Green it's time to hang a right and head towards the town, and the big climb of the day.
The ascent starts once you hit the B4211 into Great Malvern. It's 6.2km to the top from that junction, at an average of 4.5%. The steepest section is through the town; once you hang a left onto the A449 the gradient relents a bit, and it's a pretty steady 5% climb for the last 2.5km to the top. It's a bit of a slog, but not so steep that you can't enjoy the superb views, east first across towards the Vale of Evesham, and then west towards Hereford and the distant Brecon Beacons as you crest the climb.
The road quickens as it approaches the A449, and the descent on the main road is super-quick; again, it's easy to overshoot the sharp right-hander onto the A4104 where the downhill continues. Scrape the flies from your teeth when you get to Welland and it's time for calmer progress, on the flat lanes to Staunton. There's a short section of main road before the climbs to Upleadon and Four Oaks, but they're not as steep or as long as the early climbs. More rolling lanes take you through Dymock and up to Bromsberrow Heath before you cross the A417 one last time and you're on the final stretch.
Clencher's Mill Lane was being resurfaced last year when we went to do the recce, and was super slick for the ride. The surface is still excellent, and it leads you down to the final challenge: Clencher's Mill Brook. The ford isn't deep at all but it is a bit slippery. If you're unsure you can dismount and use the footbridge but if you roll through straight at a decent speed (10mph or so) and stay off the brakes you'll be fine. I went through it about 15 times on the recce for photography and video purposes; the only time I slipped up was when I tried to brake on the slope down to the water. So don't do that!
Feet duly dampened it's a quick climb out of the valley, round the back of the Castle and past the cricket pitch before a final right turn onto the Ledbury road and the finish. The 2011 route – which adds in the Colwall climbs and misses out a long section of busy B-road to Upton-on-Severn – is a definite improvement over last year. It's a bit harder, sure, but those extra climbs don't half reward you with some fantastic views. The first is steeper but you'll have fresh legs, the second more of a steady spin. More time in the lanes means more time chatting and enjoying the views too, and that has to be a good thing.
If you'd like to join us at Eastnor Deer Park for the Mountain Mayhem Sportive, then click here to find out more and enter. There's free camping all weekend, and full access to the Mountain Mayhem event village with major brands and stores on site. And you can catch a bit of the MTB racing too. There's plenty for kids to do, and lots to see in the area for non-cycling family members. It should be a super weekend, hope to see you there!
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.