Time to dig out the cyclocross or adventure bike and dust down the mountain bike shoes, it’s the final round of the Kinesis UK sponsored GravelCross series this weekend. The final event of 2017 takes to the Chiltern Hills for a mix of road and off-road shenanigans and should be a lot of fun.
The Badlands event starts and finishes in Henley-On-Thames and offers a choice of three distances, 37km up to 69km with fully signed routes as well as GPX downloads, well-stocked feedstations and medals for finishing. Unlike a regular road sportive, the GravelCross format mixes things up with a combination of roads, byways, back roads and tougher off-road trails that are really good fun to ride, as I found out when I took part in the Gold Rush event last month.
The organisers behind the GravelCross series have actually been putting on cyclocross sportives for many years, well before the hype for gravel and adventure bikes reached fever pitch. They’re aimed at cyclocross and mountain bikes - you won’t get around on a road bike unless it’s bone dry, which it won’t be at this time of year.
With the increased availability of adventure bikes designed to excel on such varied and mixed terrain, it’s not inconceivable to see these events becoming a lot more popular.
When I rode the Gold Rush I used it as part of my testing of the new Specialized Diverge. I was well outnumbered by cyclocross and mountain bikes it must be said, but there were a smattering of bikes similar to the Diverge.
Here's how the organisers describe the event:
Your choice of steed will define your ride. Will the versatility of an MTB offer the best performance over mixed terrain? Will the pure speed of your road bike make up for time lost on the short, occasional off road dismounts? Or will the CX bike give you the best return where it counts?
To prove a point (or just let you fly the flag for your tribe), we’ll even include your bike choice in your results listing; so if you insist on tackling the route on your mum’s folding shopper, we’ll credit your lunacy!** You’ll have a range of time targets to aim for, with age and gender adjustments, plus everything you’d expect from our events, including full route marking, RFID timing, top notch catering and first class, friendly organisation and support.
Sounds like fun right? I’ll be there this weekend, and there’s still time to enter if you want to take part. Head over to www.cxsportive.com
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.