Last year’s inaugural Spring Classic (read my report here) was run off in some pretty tough conditions, with rain and gale force winds making for a proper ‘classic’ event. Despite many riders choosing not to ride on the day, those that did ride found that much of the course was out of the wind, with only the exposed roads across the Ashdown Forest and the final run in to the finish subjecting them to the winds full fury.
I rode the Spring Classic and found it to be a hard event that captured the feeling of one of the Classic pro races that are happening at this time of year; twisty routes, foul weather, tough little climbs and even a bit of Belgian toothpaste!
The route leaves the Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux and rolls out into the Sussex Weald, before tackling the climb of Black Hill in the Ashdown Forest. Most of the route is through undulating country lanes with very little traffic, but be warned those lanes are covered in brake block eating grit, despite having a set of new blocks at the start, I was perilously low at the end. I’d recommend you pay attention to your tyre choice as well, last year I rode with Clement’s Strada LGG tyres. These fast 28mm tyres soaked up the rough roads and remained puncture free. This year I will be running Schwalbe’s One tubeless tyres for added peace of mind on those flint ridden Sussex lanes.
At 62 miles it’s not too long and is a good early season test of your fitness and if the weather is as bad as last year it means you won’t be out in it for too long! With the chance of bad weather at this time of year and with a nod to the cuisine of Belgium and Holland, riders will be treated to a portion of frites at the Huntsman Pub, the halfway feed stop; that should help keep your cockles warm!
As last year’s edition was the first there weren’t any time standards, this year however Velopace have set some. With the route being so twisty and with very little flat, you’ll have to keep on the pace if you want to post a fast time. The Spring Classic won’t only be a test of your fitness, the route contains many narrow, twisty back lanes, with tricky descents and you’ll need to keep your wits about you.
Once you’ve finished the Spring Classic you’ll receive the perfect kind of memento for a Belgian themed event, a bottle of Belgian beer to wash the grit out of your teeth. You’ll also get a medal, but I know which one I’d appreciate more.
As with all Velopace events there will be chip timing, super-fast registration, free event photography and Gold & Silver time targets. Kontour Cycles will also be providing a start line mechanic service. The Spring Classic is the first of six sportives that Velopace are running this year, check out their website for other events including the two-day Eastbourne Cycling Festival and their first hill climb event, the brutal Butts Lane Hill Climb.
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