First ever Kinesis UK "Hell of the West" hailed as an “Epic” success

Organisers say "Hell of the West" CX Sportive is Epic success

by VecchioJo   October 2, 2012  

At 10 am on Sunday 30th September over 100 riders riders set off on the first ever Kinesis UK Hell of the West, a 80km route over Dartmoor National Park and one of the new breed of CX Sportives designed to suit either cyclocross or mountain bikes, and designed to be tough. Conditions in Devon were favourable with a couple of days of sunshine drying out the recently rain battered trails and with further moisture forecast for only later in the day riders just had to worry about getting back in time, and surviving the Moor.

The Hell of the West isn’t a race, but with a brand spanking Kinesis Pro6 CX frame and wheels on offer to the rider that rolled over the finish line first there was definitely an incentive to dig deep and make good progress. From the get go it was going to be interesting to see whether the route would suit a rugged mountain bike or a nimble cross bike. Dartmoor is made of granite; grippy and easy to ride on, but also uncompromising on brake pads with sharp step ups and downs that can shred skinny tyres. The route took in a bit of everything; from the fast flowing woodland trails and stepping-stone river crossings on the moor's fringes to the exposed bogs and rocky trails lurking in the upper moor - hard on any type of bike, throw into the mix a handful of 25% climbs and a brutal wind and everything’s in place to create a ride that’s equally hard and memorable.

The assortment of bikes was as varied as the terrain; full suspension 29er mountainbikes with cross tyres on, standard rigid 29ers, cross bikes with fat 43mm tyres on, flat bar cross bikes, singlespeed CX bikes and hardcore hardtail mountain bikes, each of them the perfect bike for at least part of the route and vastly inappropriate for the rest.

The first section out to the Princetown feed zone at about halfway was made the hardest thanks to the relentless head wind that battered riders as they fought to make a strict 1pm cut off that would separate riders into two groups – the strong, capable of doing the full figure-of-eight Hell of the West route, and the weak who would have to turn for home. For an non competitive ride there was definitely a cutthroat end with Liam Glen (Kinesis Morvelo Project) and local wildman Jay Horton (Certini/McCauley's) fighting for top honours, and despite yo-yoing positions with as much as a 20minute gap between each other the non-race managed to end up in a sprint finish with Jay’s self-professed pathetic sprint allowing Liam Glen to win the uncompetitive event in 4hrs and 48mins to win a free frame from his sponsor.

Further back down the field had great stories too, many from local riders who had never ridden the trails right on their doorstep before and others who took personal suffering to new levels by riding their mountain bikes for up to eight hours, but no matter how quickly or slowly it took relief finally came at the finish line in the form of a bottle of Dartmoor Legend ale. Some would say they would never return - the trails were too tough and the hills just too much, others promised to come back with scores to settle with Dartmoor and its new legend of the Hell of the West, set to return in September 2013.

www.hellofthewest.co.uk

25 user comments

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The Hell of the West isn’t a race, but with a brand spanking Kinesis Pro6 CX frame and wheels on offer to the rider that rolled over the finish line first there was definitely an incentive to dig deep and make good progress

it's all very well saying it isn't a race, but if the first person back wins a bike then it clearly *is* a race, in any meaningful sense of the word. you can't just say 'ah, it's not a race' in order to not have to sort out all the licensing that goes with running a race.

not having a go, it looks like a great event. but to me that's pushing the boundaries too far.

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posted by Barry Fry-up [187 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 14:10

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Looks like good fun; and very competitive by all accounts?

Name of event seems wrong though! It takes place in the south east! Where did they get west from? I looked at the title and thought, Oh good an event in Wales.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 15:30

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Yeah idiots, Dartmoor is sandwiched between the M25 and the north circular...

posted by stevetoze [2 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 15:45

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This is a race. I'd be interested to see the Insurance document covering this. The format is the same as a race with a mass start and first over the line.

posted by 6654henry [56 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 16:07

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I did this on my 26" wheel hardtail MTB and it was tough. About 25% of the course was on road and 75% bridleways and open access moor. The road sections were all - or seemingly all - brutal hills including the mile long 18-20% slog from Widecombe to Haytor rocks.
Having done the event, I'm pretty sure the format was no different to your usual sportive, albeit with thw twist of it being predominantly off road. I'd say only a very few of the 100 or so competitors were in it to win it.
I realise that the prize of a frame provided by the title sponsor adds an incentive for the fast guys to try and cross the line first but any sportive I've ever ridden has amounted to a race at the sharp end.
For the rest of us, it was just a long, hard day out on the bike in a beautiful part of the South West (not sure where Mostyn gets the South East bit from).

posted by peloton [3 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 18:10

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I was there too, 29er. Struggled in the first 2 hours, did 12 miles... made much better time once on the moor proper where I appear to have had the right bike. Huge respect for the CX riders for attempting some bits. Just missed the cut off getting to Princetown at 13:02 and frankly relieved I didn't have to make the choice.

Makes me 'weak' I guess. Wink

Really enjoyed the middle section even with the block headwind then struggled again with the 25% climbs at the end. 5 hours 47 mins for 45 miles, the slowest ride I've done in years and by far the hardest.

It was well organised, well signposted (road sportives could take notes from the Shred guys using easy to spot colours) and the feed station was well stocked. More importantly all bar one rider I met had a good time despite it being bloody hard work. And I picked up a new pump at the end of it in the raffle. Smile

I'm in for next year. Fitter and stronger.

posted by Bagpuss [101 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 22:15

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I don't know if it was up at the time this was published. But Liam's write up is here

http://road.cc/content/blog/68171-wild-wild-west

I think its a bit cheeky that Liam won his own sponsors event ("race") and got a free frame and wheelset from them..... Devil

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posted by Gkam84 [8780 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 22:29

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Looks like I am not the only one to have misgivings.Firstly I am sure it was fun and I would have loved to have ridden. Its good to see some tougher events that make people suffer old style!
However it does raise the same concern as any sportive does with extra twists. Are the tracks used capable of sustaining this abuse without indications of it happening. Some will undoubatbly as they were stone but all of them. Damage happens in normal us but this mustn't increase it or it will add to the objections but from a different perspective. As a motorcycle trail rider I know all about that!
No event shhould affect the local use. I see the HONC as an exception as it was well established gradually at a time when nothing else was out there to give put a sour taste into the locals mouths. Not so today.Also the HONC gives in a big way to charity and has the same effect as the local fete. People don't mind disruption for a local good cause. I can't see the organisers of this event doing so. And I don't mean a few hundre quid.
I also see the blatant race dimension as the great way of encouraging rude behaviour and poor manners etc as seen at most sportives. The incentive to win something will have more than just a few going for the front irrespective of the need to not upset anyone.
I bet the leaders wouldn't have stopped to let a horse go by if it would cost them a frame.
I also think the organisers are pushing their luck by saying its not a race. Nowadays it is moronic and irresonsible to push boudaries like this. The disgusting state of liability rules means everyone is out for a quick buck. Break the rules and it will cost. I Clerk of Course a motorcycle event that uses roads and green lanes. We do things by the book as failiure to do so leaves you open to all sorts of grief, including insurers refusing to cooperate.
I love the idea of such an event and indeed have planned something albeit a touch tougher (I doubt I'll be arsed to run it though)but these things have to be done properly and that isn't just great feed stations.
Why not run the event with a secret hidden set time. that way no one knows how racing will help them succeed.

posted by mattsccm [246 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 7:46

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peloton wrote:
I did this on my 26" wheel hardtail MTB and it was tough. About 25% of the course was on road and 75% bridleways and open access moor. The road sections were all - or seemingly all - brutal hills including the mile long 18-20% slog from Widecombe to Haytor rocks.
Having done the event, I'm pretty sure the format was no different to your usual sportive, albeit with thw twist of it being predominantly off road. I'd say only a very few of the 100 or so competitors were in it to win it.
I realise that the prize of a frame provided by the title sponsor adds an incentive for the fast guys to try and cross the line first but any sportive I've ever ridden has amounted to a race at the sharp end.
For the rest of us, it was just a long, hard day out on the bike in a beautiful part of the South West (not sure where Mostyn gets the South East bit from).

Hell of the West?? The area known as West-Country, is situated south east of South West Wales! Hell of the Westcountry would have been acceptable; not Hell of the West.
Sounds like a brilliant event though.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 11:21

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Mostyn wrote:

Hell of the West?? The area known as West-Country, is situated south east of South West Wales! Hell of the Westcountry would have been acceptable; not Hell of the West.

Who appointed you arbiter of what events can and can't have the word 'west' in the title? I missed that memo. FFS, like it even matters...

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posted by Barry Fry-up [187 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 11:51

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There are some folk in Dublin/Galway/New York/Chicago/Sacramento who take issue with Mostyn's idea that Wales is "the west".

And what should the organisers of the original "Hell of the North" call it?

posted by David Portland [88 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 12:51

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I did this and I've done one previous road sportive, and the atmospheres couldn't have been more different.

The organisers of HOTW made it really clear at the start that the event was being held on open roads and rights of way, and that we should be safe and respectful. There was a neutralised start. There wasn't any talk of "gold times". People were friendly, supportive and let you know they were there before passing, unlike in the road sportive, where me and my 67 year-old dad were repeatedly buzzed by groups of slavering dickheads. There was a good bit of banter and some mutual respect between the CX and MTB riders. The cyclist/walker/horse interactions I saw were all polite.

With the exception of the frame, the prizes were all given at random. I won a really nice multitool and I didn't even complete the whole route. I think the original plan was to enter everyone who finished within a certain time into a draw for the frame, but that would have encouraged far more people to beast themselves and take unnecessary risks. This way the competition was restricted to a tiny handful of properly fast riders, none of whom really needed the win, rather than a whole load of try-hards.

Much as I love the HONC, it's massively over-subscribed and there is clearly a demand for more events like this. Any argument about "impact" sounds daft when you consider that this event had 100 riders if that, versus 1000+ doing the HONC. The course was also one of the toughest I've ridden and we had a genuine sense of achievement when we'd finished. I hope it continues.

posted by Mr Agreeable [134 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 12:57

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I'm not overly bothered other than naive people being possibly exposed to risk that they were unaware of with regard to the race/sportive argument. You would have to say though that if you asked a 1000 people if an event awrded a prize for the 1st person who finished I suspect over 900 would say that was a race. Luckily no harm done this year it appears. Worth thinking about next year though.

Didn't the bike part of the Man Vs Horse Vs Bike get stopped as it is not legal to race on a bridleway (though you may be able to get permission to do so. Not sure).

Just think it's worth checking before doing the same again. The last thing anyone would want is anyone needing to make an insurance claim being refused due to technicalities. It is VERY sad that we have to live in a world like this but we do.

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posted by bikeandy61 [387 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 13:08

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I can't work out if Mostyn is serious or not Thinking I'm in Wales, and much of the west of England is further west than me. Maybe it should be renamed 'Hell of the west, but not as far west as Mostyn'.

Regardless, isn't the most westerly part of the UK in Scotland, not Wales?

posted by nellybuck@msn.com [156 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 13:21

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Think Mostyn is getting his Ford's mixed with his Moors....

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [547 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 14:06

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nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
Regardless, isn't the most westerly part of the UK in Scotland, not Wales?

[pedantry_on] Isn't it's Northern Ireland Thinking [/pedantry_off]

posted by dicktate [11 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 14:32

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And America is west of the UK, and the far east is west of that (if you go far enough) and east anglia is west of that, ad infinitum...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3063 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 15:16

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Now I'm dizzy

posted by mbrads72 [120 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 15:52

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dicktate wrote:
nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
Regardless, isn't the most westerly part of the UK in Scotland, not Wales?

[pedantry_on] Isn't it's Northern Ireland Thinking [/pedantry_off]

Smile Fair enough, should obviously have read _mainland_ UK Wink

posted by nellybuck@msn.com [156 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 16:04

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Dartmoor is more westerley than most of Scotland, most of Wales and nearly all of England. I think that entitles us to call it Hell of the West. We could have also called it the Hell of the South too if we'd liked. Maybe we'll do a Hell of the South just to lay claim to our geographical extremity.

posted by stevetoze [2 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 17:23

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I'd like you to run with "Hell of the 50.57° N, 4° W" to avoid any confusion relating to the relative position of road.cc commenters and dartmoor. thanks. Wink

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7295 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 17:35

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can you call it the "Hell of the North by Northwest" then the riders that don't make the 1pm cut-off can get strafed by biplanes

North-By-Northwest.jpg

posted by VecchioJo [744 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 17:47

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nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
dicktate wrote:
nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
Regardless, isn't the most westerly part of the UK in Scotland, not Wales?

[pedantry_on] Isn't it's Northern Ireland Thinking [/pedantry_off]

Smile Fair enough, should obviously have read _mainland_ UK Wink

WRONG WRONG WRONG.

The most Westerly part of the UK is SCOTTISH Wink

Rockall would be if it was recognised internationally, but its not. So that leaves St Kilda as the most westerly point Wink

The most westerly point on mainland GB is also Scottish Nerd

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posted by Gkam84 [8780 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 18:34

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nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
dicktate wrote:
nellybuck@msn.com wrote:
Regardless, isn't the most westerly part of the UK in Scotland, not Wales?

[pedantry_on] Isn't it's Northern Ireland Thinking [/pedantry_off]

Smile Fair enough, should obviously have read _mainland_ UK Wink


("Pedantry to maximum Mr Sulu." "Pedantry to maximum Captain".)
Actually, unless you count Rockall, it's Saint Kilda.
("Thank you Mr Sulu, steady as she goes.")

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 18:34

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Did you see that Gkam? Same point,same time. Synchronicity or what?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 18:38

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