This was an event I didn't even know existed but I I am so glad I did it. This is one of three events organised by Cycle Classics in the UK and is based on the Classic Race Strade Bianche which takes place in Tuscany which uses roads and 40 sections of 'White' Roads which could be Gravel or chalk set in the Beautiful countryside in Italy.
Our party consisted of a motley crew of two grease monkeys Chris and Steve from Terrys Cycles in Yate (Great shop by the way) Matt Norris and myself.
Our event took place on Sunday July 3rd, I was lucky, Chris had kindly volunteered to drive so all I had to do was get myself over to Terrys Cycles and load my bike onto the back of his car. An hour and a bit later we arrived at Basildon Park https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Basildon+Parkfirstname.lastname@example.org,-1.121399,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x421370a5d76a535d!8m2!3d51.499099!4d-1.121399
This is close to Pangbourn in Berkshire. This really was a grand place for the start of the ride with the Stately Hall in the background. So we started doing the usual building of Bikes and packing of energy Bars, Drinking Bottles loaded onto bikes and checking of Tyre pressures.
The Sun was shining and there was no wind that I remember, people were starting to gather around the big inflatable start line and after we ordered our Sandwiches and drinks for our welcome return we were off. We were all in good spirits and followed a line of riders from S.A.S. (SaltandSham) down a lane and then we were off road and up into a wooded bridle path. Everyone dug in and rode up trying to avoid the pot holes. Then we heard the sound of Matt N. shout out from the back. He had punctured, was this the sign of things to come after just four Miles?
With inner tube repaired we were back on our way, the Bridle-path opened up and onto the Beautiful white roads we were promised. They were fantastic to ride on today in the dry sunshine, dust blowing from the back wheels.
We rode on, the Matt called out again, oh this was not a good start at all. Matt had another puncture and it had damaged his tyre which meant he had the choice of trying to repair it and ride on, hoping the next 70 miles would be kind to him. But this was not and ordinary Sunday ride, this was a ride with 17 Sectors of rough stuff. Reluctantly Matt turned around and headed back. I felt for him having come all this way, sun shining and a beautiful ride ahead. Oh well it happens, that's all part of cycling. At least he could soak some sun and enjoy the scenery back at the Mansion.
Myself, Steve and Chris carried on toward East Issley riding along the Ridgeway,one of the oldest roads in Great Britain. We rode on and passed through lovely Villages with Thatched Cottages. Chilton, East Ginge, East Hedred, Wantage. Blimey there were some fancy houses down here. Then we saw the white Horse on the side of the hill. Uffington and a good climb brought us within touching distance. It's a shame we were so tied up with the climb we didn't stop to take a photo.I got this rear end view from the GoPro though showing the view from the slopes and at the top.
Nice Tread Pattern eh!
Steve enjoying the gravel.
There were chances to have a break for some while perfecting their inner tube maintenance!
Uffington Climb, nice climb with a steady gradient. See the walkers path which leads to the White horse.
Uffington done, we rode on to the first feed stop which was at Bishopstone. This was a welcome sight after 45 miles of ups and downs and the added effort needed to ride the white road sectors. There was a good spread of italian themed food on offer which hit the spot. Italian Breads and suchlike. Little toffee wafers, Yum. what are they called? Chris? lol. Anyway, they were AWESOME and were brilliant for energy apparently. It's funny how time can pass so quickly when you're at these pit stops. it's very easy to sit there and crazy amount of time has passed by. I reckon time is not fixed, we will soon be able to set our clocks to 'waiting for the kettle to boil' mode or 'sitting chatting with good company' mode.
Anyway, back to the real world.....
We headed off and back to the roads to more stunning scenery. Wow, then another pit stop after just 15 miles?? Anyway, we pulled off and took in the view. This stop was on top of a cracking view point at Court Hill Centre, Oxfordshsire. The organisers really knew how to please. back on the road again, we Zig Zagged across stunning landscapes and back to the start. Thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We grabbed our Sarnies and drinks, there was proper coffee and even Prosecco!
I thoroughly recommend this event. It is well organised and the route is well thought out. Even if the first stop seamed too far. It was probably because it was a hot day. You can ride it on a regular road bike. I used pretty tough tires because I erred on the side of caution, some used normal road tires like Cont GP4000 without any problems.