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Coming up: South Downs CX Sportive

Saturday 10 March: your last chance to ride your cyclo-cross bike this season?

This seasons cyclo-cross races may be all done and, if not dusted, then cleaned of sticky mud. But that doesn’t mean the cyclo-cross season is over and you have to put your CX bike back in the shed for 6 months. Most cycle-cross bikes don’t go anywhere near a race course, and it's not like you’re banned from riding your ‘cross bike any time of the year anyway….

But we digress. Saturday March 10th sees one more cyclo-cross event you can take part in, and possibly enjoy rather than the sweat and spit of a race. It’s the last of the Southern Sportives trilogy of CX sportives, this time based in Duncton, West Sussex and making the most of the lumpy roads, lanes, tracks and trails of the South Downs.

The organisers say that CX Sportive is an exciting new ride format, although we suspect those that have taken part in events like the nearly 30 year old Hell Of The North Cotswolds mixed terrain reliability trial might rub their chins a little bit at that claim. Anyway, the course of a CX Sportive is ideal for a ‘cross bike with its interwoven mix of back roads, byways and tougher more technically demanding off road bits including this time round sections of the South Downs Way, but also equally do-able for an XC mountainbike, a winter road bike tweaked for a little rough stuff or even your mums hybrid.

What bike you choose, assuming you have a choice, will define your ride. Will the ruggedness of an MTB offer the best performance over mixed surfaces or will the pure speed of your road bike over tarmac make up for time lost mincing on the off road sections? Or will the compromise on both road and dirt make the CX bike the best tool for the job overall? To see who wins this battle the organizers will include your choice of bike in your results listing so you can stick your tongue out at anybody on The Wrong Bike later, whatever bike that may be. And there’s a range of time targets to meet to win a virtual medal too. Or you could just take whatever bike you have and have a fun time regardless of speed and time.

The usual sportive fare will be there; a comprehensively clearly marked route, mechanical assistance, sweeper wagon and first aid, feed stations with free energy drink and bars, electronic timing with immediate results for each rider and results posted later on the www, and hot food and drink for sale at the finish. And there’s also the chance to win a £200 prize from Four4th Lights.

There are three route distances to chose from at 76, 60 & 52kms, so whether you’re carrying form from a winter of CX racing and want one last blast or are looking for something to ease you back into riding after a long hibernation there’s something to suit you. With drought conditions already issued for the South the going should be firm to fast. David Else rode the Woodcote CX sportive for back in January and thoroughly recommended it, saying that if you're looking for something different, and you've got a suitable bike a CX Sportive is well worth trying.’s own VecchioJo will be along to tackle the full 70km route from Duncton so say hello and then push him into the ditch. Especially if you're an IT manager, because he's always having a pop at them. Thanks.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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