I’ll hold my hand up right from the start, I really like CX Sportive and their cross/gravel events. So this article is an unashamed piece encouraging you to go out and try one of their multi-surface events.
Phil and Martin Harrison are the brains behind CX Sportive, which they have been running way before the current gravel boom; the boys are trend setters! Their first CX Sportive was the Wildwood Gravelcross, way back in 2010. In their own words they had noticed that “cyclocross bikes were taking on duties away from the race circuit; for commuting, general riding and out in the hills for fun! We got hooked and an idea formed. In 2010, we put on the first Wildwood CX, and CX Sportive was born!”
The Kinesis Gravelcross Series is a five event series that will give you and your ‘cross/gravel bike an excellent day out. There’s all the usual sportive facilities, timing chips, feed stops, GPS routes, sign posted routes and fun! Which you would expect as they also run the road Southern Sportive and Mtb Trail Break series.
But enough about road and Mtbs (which are allowed on the CX events), let’s look at some more of the ‘cross/gravel events from CX Sportive. First up is a real one-off and a type of event I hope to see more of, the Battle in the Bowl. This is a two hour long gravel race over a four mile course. This year the Battle in the Bowl will be a weekend event, 11-12th May, allowing riders from further afield to travel down, check out the course and enjoy the atmosphere before Sunday’s racing.
Last year’s senior event was won by Taylor Gunman of Madison Genesis, yes pro road riders like gravel; especially when there are cash prizes available! Could this be the start of gravel racing in the UK? We don’t have many actual races, plenty of sportives and the odd enduro, but not many actual races. I for one would love to see more gravel races. And how did I do? I just missed a spot on the 50+ podium, so there’s plenty of incentive for me to get training!
Next up on the 3rd of August is the Ridgeway 100. This is an out and back one hundred kilometre ride that follows “Europe’s oldest continually used highway. Dating back thousands of years, this was a prehistorically important route, with many ancient landmarks along it’s length, and ending at the magnificent stone circles of Avebury (which predates Stonehenge by some 700 years!)” The route is apparently “faster paced” and “less extreme” than the South Downs Way, but will still give “you plenty to get your teeth into”.
But we have to go back to the 6th of July for the Blue Riband event of the CX Sportive series, drum-roll please, the CX Century. This is probably my favourite event of the year. I’ve ridden it on Mtb and now cyclo-cross bike too many times to count. Over the years I’ve actually got quicker, especially since swapping to the ‘cross bike. See, it’s all about the bike, or am I getting faster the older I get?
What can I say about this event that I haven’t said in my previous articles? Have a read and see what you think of last year’s event, which saw the record smashed by Daniel Hughes of the Meteor X Giordana Racing team. He raised the bar by lowering the time to 7 hours and 25 minutes, even though he walked the steep bits!
The next event that’s being run is a one-off special, the Dirty Joker, on March 10th. As to why the Dirty Joker, it’s an off-road sportive in aid of Comic Relief. This off-road ride into the Surrey Hills is free to enter, instead you choose a donation of £15, £20 or £25, all of which goes to Comic Relief.
There are four routes available, from 15 to 50 kilometres and the route is suitable for MTBs and ‘cross/gravel bikes. So sign up and help CX Sportive raise £10,000 for Comic Relief. The guys at CX Sportive say they want you to “Ride it With Bells On! Make some noise! It doesn’t matter if it’s bike bells, cow bells, or even hat mounted jingly bells – the ring is the thing! Ride the Dirty Joker, and ride it with bells on!”