This ever popular classic cycling event, promoted jointly by Winchcombe CC and Cheltenham & County CC, starts from the picturesque Cotswold Town of Winchcombe and 2015 is the 31st year of the event. The first event in 1984 was the brainchild of the late Pat Smith and Tim Groom who had ridden the Paris-Roubaix sportif and wanted to bring the flavour of that event to the Cotswolds. The event has taken place in April each year except for two occasions. In 1986 it was abandoned due to deep snow, making it impossible to travel and so it was postponed to September. Also, in 2001, when we had the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease, a similar postponement also occurred. Last year the event attracted over 1100 riders.
The event is aimed at experienced riders and there is a 100km route for the very experienced & fit riders and a 50km route for those who know how just how tough the off-road Cotswold Hills can be! Ollie and I signed up for the 100km route (why ever not!?!) and managed to persuade Jon Cranston to join us. We became a bit worried about Jon completing the 100km option during a big carbo-loading pasta meal the night before when he confessed that he had not had very much time to train, but that we were not to worry as he had been out on his bike a couple of times to check that everything worked! Respect to Cranners – he completed the whole thing in under 10 hours with little more than a bit of cramp in his back!
The event was great fun. Ollie had a bit of sense of humour failure coming back over Cleeve Hill in what were some pretty windy conditions, but otherwise he finished feeling good and no complaints from his ticker! I was happy – the conditions had been dry, the Cotswold countryside was stunning (as always), the mid-point food station was stocked with LOADS of REALLY TASTY snacks and I only had one annoying puncture and a tiny bit of saddle sore. I don’t think I’d want to do this event on a wet and muddy day, but we were really lucky this year and I’d like to think I’ll be back to do this again in the future!