The Ride: Wiggle South Downs Sportive
The start line of the Wiggle sportive was at Chichester College, a mere stone’s throw from the station which was convenient for those of us who weren’t local to the West Sussex roads. I opted for the 70 mile ‘standard’ course out of a choice of three that included a 40 mile and 100 mile option. With around 4,500 ft. of climbing I thought this was more than acceptable and was mainly concerned with enjoying myself and the surroundings.
It didn’t take us long to reach the rolling countryside of the stunning South Downs with a few little bumps to get the heart rate up and burn off the morning chill. It was definitely a ride for arm and leg warmers to take the edge off, particularly on the descents as the wind rattled through my ears.
The first feed stop came at 36 miles and I gorged on salty crisps and fig rolls. There was something quite ‘old-skool’ and quaint about the vibe at the stops. They were a down-to-earth affair with no pretension, just a group of riders at varying levels of experience out for a solid Sunday ride. I chatted to a woman who had ridden the entire series of Wiggle road sportives this year and was looking forward to completing her last one in Exmouth this weekend.
There were a couple of scenic highlights for me on this ride. The route took us through a patch of thick woodland through Midhurst with imposing polka straight trees that loomed above a rolling path that was a sight for my sore city eyes. By this point the clouds had cleared and made way for an electric blue sky to backdrop the forest and it was one of those ‘ride moments’ when all your worries disappear.
It was one of those ‘ride moments’ when all your worries disappear
There was also a noteworthy climb, the punchy Butser Hill that is apparently a bit of an icon in the South Downs. Wiggle actually close the road and time this segment and also bring a cheering squad in fancy dress to power you through.
When you see a Telly Tubby, Darth Vader and Elvis waving you up, you certainly forget the lactic in your legs.
The classic jersey proved its breathability at this point too as the autumn sun and the gradient made for a sweaty combination.
It was all downhill from Butser and a speedy flat brought me back to Chichester College to collect my sportive medal brimming with the afterglow of feeling the first blast of autumn air.
Later, on the train back to London as I uploaded my achievements to Strava, I marvelled at the maple leaf pattern the route had taken us. I had created my first ‘Strava art’ and with an apt symbol to represent the falling leaves, the end of the summer season and the start of a new chapter.
TWC has a full run down of the new dhb items for autumn and winter here.