The CX Sportive’s season of gravel and mixed surface events returns next weekend with a new series name and a mix of new and returning events. I’ve ridden many of CX Sportive’s events and have loved the mix of on and off-road riding, perfect for your ‘cross/gravel steed. The Gravelcross series will take you all the way from September through to April 2018. And once that’s finished you can get ready for their summer events like the Battle in the Bowl and the CX Century.
The new Season starts on September 24 with the White Horse Ridge Gravelcross. This event is 95% off-road and uses a lot of the Ridgeway – Britain’s oldest road. After that it’s onto the Salisbury Droves, the South Downs and Chilterns before Christmas. The series kicks off in the New Year for the eighth running of their original event, the Wildwood. The series dates are below.
2017-18 Gravelcross Series dates;
White Horse Ridge Gravelcross Chilton Oxfordshire, Sept 24th
Gold Rush Gravelcross Salisbury, Wilitshire, October 15th
CrossBones Gravelcross Patching, W. Sussex, November 11th
Badlands Gravelcross Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, November 26th
Wildwood Gravelcross Woodcote, Oxfordshire, February 11th
Surrey Hills Switchback Gravelcross Chilworth, Surrey, March 4th
South Downs Butser Hill Gravelcross Petersfield, Hampshire, April 8th
All the courses are deigned to appeal to riders of cyclo-cross, gravel and MTBs – I’ve even seen old school tourers on some of their events! With the ‘road’ surface constantly changing, Gravelcross events will challenge your handling skills as well as your fitness. Expect to find yourself switching from dirt roads to tarmac, gravel, grass, chalk and farm tracks throughout your ride. Breaking up the off-road riding with tarmac also gives you a break from the muck if it’s particularly muddy. Riding in the mud can be a blast, but not for a whole day!
All events include full route marking, GPX routes, plus feed and support stations. There are time standards for you to aim for and timings are up on the screen by the time you’ve stumbled in for some hot food and a drink at the event HQ. each event has a choice of three routes between 40-80 kilometres. And at the end of your ride there are finishers medals to show your adoring family.
The atmosphere at the CX sportive events is always very friendly and I always have a good time, despite the suffering! I’ll be riding as many as I can fit around the ‘cross season. They fill in the empty slots in the race calendar nicely and make for a change from riding round and round for an hour. So if you have a ‘cross/gravel bike which never sees the dirty stuff, here’s the chance to rectify that. Read my report of 2016’s South Downs Sting to get a flavour of the rides. I’ll be riding the Gold Rush in October, it’s a cracking ride and includes the iconic climb of Gold Hill in Sherbourne. Hopefully see you out there?
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