Avanti Club Rides – Velothon Weekend

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  Claire Clarke 3 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #15050

    Steven Butler

    More Velothon

    This is a view from the slightly more leisurely run of 5hrs 36mins but with more stops than Chris & Julian (nice to see you by the way). Taking the B Wiggins point of view about who wants to ride in the rain and in a futile attempt to avoid the Welsh rain that was like stair rods for quite a while and to have a civilised natural break (four portaloos for 12000+ riders at the 1st feed stop meant there was quite a queue and I didn’t bother in the end – you don’t need the rest of the details). A great scenic ride all round. Witnessed a crash at the beginning of the Tumble descent with an unfortunate lady ploughing into a chap who decided to roll out from his temporary resting position at the side of the road – his bike is now minus a piece of carbon chain stay and probably written off – it wouldn’t happen with a steel frame you know. I found that was something to be wary of on this otherwise great day – a few peoples erratic behaviour, strange road lines and pulling out to the right whilst in a bunch in narrow sections without looking behind for example. It was nice to meet Lee Staples for the first time just starting up Caerphilly hill, but that probably wasn’t the best place to engage in a lengthy conversation. The fast descent into Cardiff on the closed roads with all the locals supporting was definitely something to savour.

  • #15049


    G3 to Llama Park Ashdown Forest proved a popular route with 12 attendees girding their loins for a hilly endeavour. The “magnificent 4 undulations” were appreciated, giving most of the group a feeler for the climb over the Ashdown Forest. Two members, anxious to “push on” took the wrong turning at Cowden Village and ended up behind the main party.However they both enjoyed a fast & furious chase down, arriving at the prescribed venue as we were dismounting.
    Greg and Dave had already left us at earlier intervals in order to achieve their family commitments. Excellent food sent us on our way home, fortunately staying in our stomachs as we faced several challenging climbs before reaching Polhill. 15 + mph 62.5 miles 4,824 ft.

    • #15052

      Claire Clarke

      Thanks Dave for a lovely route to the Llama Park, and thanks to the group for good company. Nice to meet new member Dave, strong rider, definitely G2 material. Also very good to have Brian Bulmer with us, going amazingly well, I want some of his drugs! After a week of cycling in Mallorca I feel that at last I might be getting a bit stronger, hope I can maintain it.

      Well done Andy South, fantastic result. And well done all who did Velothon Wales, sounds like a great event. I would be interested in doing this next year, if you get news on when entries open can someone post on the website, thanks.

  • #15044

    Chris Dines

    Velothon Wales

    First off, amazing write ups everyone – great reading. Hats Off to Andy South- quite an achievement getting in the top 3 from a field of 60.

    Yesterday, a number of us did Velothon Wales. Quite a weekend for me – a day of far too much consumption on Saturday, leading up to watching my team lose at Wembley in the FA Cup. I can’t thank Julian enough for picking me up from Wembley (at 8.30pm) and the driving to Cardiff in time for last orders.

    Velothon is closed roads based around Cardiff and the Gwent valleys. 50 miles of flat/rolling stuff followed by some big climbs. It’s the best sportive I’ve done in the UK – 18,000 cyclists, big crowds cheering you on, and a great route. Amazing views and rides through the centre of towns.

    Juilan, Chris Moss and I stayed at the same hotel (more later) and set off at the same time – Steve Connery also staying but had a start time of 7.00am. Plan was to do the 87 miles without stopping. I just loved the first 50 miles as we worked well together and maintained an average speed of over 21mph. We then hit the Tumble – I ran out of fluids, cramped in the left hamstring (again) and then realised I had to stop and get some liquids in. I don’t think FA Cup Final day was helping at this point. Impressively, Chris and Julian kicked on, with no stops.

    Even with my stop and toiling up Caerphilly Mountain, I still go to the end in an official 4:56 for the 87 miles which I was really pleased with. Apart from cramp, it was a brilliant ride. Coming in to Cardiff (nice place!) in sunshine and crowds was a cool way to finish. Chris and Julian were there to greet me, having clocked great times. Less said about our ability to get lost in Cardiff, trying to find our hotel, the better though! Think we added on an extra 10 miles.

    Aside from Flanders and Circuit of Kent, I’ve never felt motivated to do a Sportive more than once, but I think I think I will return for this one.

    Other Avanti members were there – and we met Steve Butler on the course who was going well. Finding other amongst 18,000 lycra clads is not so easy!

    • #15048

      Christopher Moss

      More On Valathon Wales. First off thanks for the company Chris/Steve/Julian. With Steve Connery on an earlier start. The Avanti team consisted of Chris Dines, myself and Julian Small. We started just before 8am with a rolling start of 500 riders close to the Cardiff City Hall. This was only my second fully closed road Sportive and it didn’t disappoint. I especially loved picking out the quickest route around roundabouts. (Nearly always anti clockwise). The first 50 miles was spent threading our way through 6,000 riders that had started in earlier waves, but with closed roads our pace was still over 21mph. Then we arrived at Abergavenny the start of the legendary Tumble climb in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Average gradient seemed around 14% for the first few miles but you forgot about that as the tree line cleared and spectacular views across the Park appeared. Next up was the Caerphilly climb, shorter than the Tumble but hitting 19% and very exposed at the top. Once over, the pace picked up again and I found surfing for quicker groups to join whilst 6 or seven riders sat on my tail. Great weekend, good company, finished 704th out of 9,000 riders Av 19.1mph.

      Chris M

      • #15051

        Julian Small

        A bit more on Velothon. Many thanks to Chris/Chris and Steve (who also got lost on the way back to the hotel but was there having a beer when we finally found it again) for the company.

        It was also my second closed road sportive after RideLondon last year. Similarly great fun and atmosphere, although the roads were generally less crowded, standards of riding generally higher in my opinion, and the route contains a couple of proper climbs in The Tumble and Caerphilly (sorry G1/G2 but Box Hill doesn’t really count).

        The weather was largely kind, which is just as well as I believed the forecast and was in full on summer kit mode – it rained heavily for a bit in the middle but wasn’t too cold so didn’t bother to stop and add layers which was a good call as wasn’t long before the sun came out.

        Despite a fast start (21mph for the first 50 miles or so until The Tumble) managed to hang on to Chris and Chris, although dropped back for a bit with a touch of cramp which managed to shake off and then had a pretty strong run in to the finish. An official time of 4:41, 963rd place and 18.7 mph not too bad overall.

        Would be good to do again knowing the route – would definitely attack the climbs a bit more knowing what the subsequent run in is like.

  • #15038

    Richard Short

    Yup – was a great ride yesterday. Thanks to Patrick for leading – nice to have a change of scene and to sample the rarefied air of the Surrey Hills!

    Despite Graham and Bill trying to ruin us on the way out (before swinging off early) everyone did well all day though some legs were tired towards the end I think. Speaking personally, the hills in the final ten seemed to have been hit by some kind of gradient magnifying ray.

    All good fun though – photos attached.

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  • #15035

    Russ K

    Great write-ups from everyone on the Surrey ride today! Plus amazing tales of racing adventure from Andy South (podium finish is pretty amazing!).

    The last few rides, I keep forgetting to join the post-ride conversation so today I’m determined to contribute! Last weekend was the fastest ride of my life (the Rye trip saw me cover 90 miles in 4hr 40 with G1…19mph average for a hefty distance, I really had to dig deep the last 10miles). This week was one of the hilliest of my life (161 km , 2100 m climbing, at about 16.5-17mph average)! A truly awesome cycling adventure…great route Andy and Patrick.

    I started with G1 for the first couple of hours, had a spell with G2 (which soon became just me and Andy) for the delights of Leith, White Down and Box, and then we all met up again as a combined G1/2 until the last bit (crazily unexpectedly hilly, followed by some beautiful rolling downhills) when we became a G1 group of 4. White Down IS like Carter’s, Marek…you’re spot on…half way up I even found myself pretending it was Carter’s (one of my favourite training hills)!

    Really enjoyed myself today…beautiful scenery, great company and a seriously challenging but rewarding ride….I’ve got a smile on my face and a lot of ache in my legs…but a ‘Recovery Meal’ of burger, chips, onion rings and beer with the family in an American Diner really helped….I can recommend it…I’m sure it’s what the pros do?!!


  • #15032

    Marek Sasura

    G1/G2 led by Patrick and AndyC started off with Graham, Bill, Richard Short, Rob (I think he is non-Avanti but I have seen him around, he is a strong rider), Russ, MartinR, Roy, RobG and myself. We had a nice warm-up up the Cudham Lane and after some wrong turns we met again on Pilgrims’ Way where Richard got a slow puncture. We pressed further on and thanks to our two local domestiques Graham and Bill, who had to turn early, so they were putting in massive turns upfront and we managed to increase our average speed by 3km/h after just 30-40min.

    When Bill and Graham turned around, the group split again and a newly formed G1 was Rob, Richard, Patrick and myself. The weather was idyllic with a matching countryside until we hit the first present of the day, the Leith Hill. It is not long (6-8min) but the gradient changes all the time and the climb lures you into believing that you are there while it throws in another steep turn. After that we climbed the White Down which welcomes you with a sign 18% gradient (average). It is just like Carter’s but longer. At least the gradient is constant so one can get used to a constant pain. Finally, we arrived to the Box Hill which is a real beauty with a smooth surface, profi markings on the road and a pleasant 5% steady gradient. Views on the top are a special reward.

    We didn’t stop at the top of the Box Hill because the cafe looked like it was distributing free food and drinks (such were the crowds) so we continued to Maison du Velo in Reigate as Patrick has mentioned. It was a small but nice place. They even asked if we wanted our toasties toasted. 🙂

    The remaining journey prepared a few more climbs which came out of nowhere (e.g. White Hill Lane) while we had already merged again with the remains of G2 (AndyC and Russ). We split again somewhere and I, Russ, Rob and Richard continued back to the G via lanes I have never seen or heard before. They prepared for us a few more climbs to finish us off.

    All in all, it was a great day on the bike in a great company! The scenery in Surrey is beautiful and the weather was optimal for a large dose of climbing. I clocked up 150km, 1800m of climbing at 27.5km/h (95m, 6000ft, 17+mph). Thanks everyone for a company (nice photos on Strava, Richard) and thanks to Patrick & Andy for leading and picking a very nice route!

    • #15034

      Sam :D

      Well done on the trip out to the Surrey Hills- that must have been a long ride!
      White Down used to be my last proper climb on my favourite 40-50mile training loop out of Guildford back in the day- it always stings! Next time I’ll have to introduce you to Barhatch instead of Leith Hill 😉

      • #15037

        Steve Rodgers

        Barhatch is the one that’s in the woods and has a dip after the first part of the climb to really throw you off your rhythm?
        Has some really nasty steep bits as I recall – brilliant fun 🙂

  • #15026

    Andy Covington

    Undeterred by the early start and the promise of a long and deliberately hilly ride, 10 souls gathered at the G this morning for the G1/G2 ride. We were joined by Martin shortly later, making 11. Having quickly dropped behind on the first hill of the day – Cudhams Lane North (not a promising start!) I made a detour up Cudham Lane South, having seen a mirage and thinking the group had taken the wrong route. At the top of hill I realised they must have in fact correctly turned off. That put me 10 minutes behind, but with a couple of punctures in the main group I thankfully caught up. G1/G2 then rode together on the flat but split around Hurst Green I think. Left in G2 were Rob, Roy, Martin and me. We picked up Russ at Horley, who’d dropped off the back of G1 when some of their number turned back early. After Leith Hill Russ and I lost touch with Rob, Roy and Martin ahead of us, I assume that they turned for home. The last (and only previous) time I attempted Whitedown I had to get off of push, so was fairly pleased that the intervening years I’ve improved slightly (though not by much). By comparison Box Hill was a doddle. The café at the summit was well stocked with cycling friendly food and drink, so much so that the place was packed and Russ and I queued for 10 mintues to be served. Over lunch and coffee we got chatting to couple of lads from Biggin Hill who ride with the staff from Orpington Cycles UK. They told us tale of the fearsome Succomb’s Hill just outside Caterham which averages 25% and a max of 33% (thankfully not on our route). Just after Reigate Russ and I were caught by G1, who’d seen the queue at Box Hill and elected to press on to the Maison du Velo in Reigate. So G1/G2 now comprised of 6. The hills had taken their toll and the attrition continued as Patrick turned for home at Caterham and the remaining group decided to take a flatter route back. So I pressed on alone up the Waller hill climb. Shortly after I came across the Succomb’s Hill and was tempted to try it, but thought I’d save that challenge for another day. If I say so myself it was a good but challenging route. Stats for the day – 90 miles, 2095m ascent, 16mph average, Strava Suffer score 131 (tough). Well done everyone to everyone!

    • #15030

      Patrick Norman

      I made it back safe and sound Andy. Not at my best today I’m afraid! Although I still managed to get 107miles and 6,200ft in today thanks to my out and back bike change this morning before I got to the G and my snaking cramp filled creep home from Caterham.

      Sorry to the G1 group that had to put up with me dropping off the back on the plentiful climbs today. We Went to Maison du Velo in Reigate because the Box Hill cafe was rammed.

      Maison du Velo is not big so not a good idea to take a big group there but the food was very good and they let you take your bikes into the shop/cafe (although I felt a bit self conscious racking my dirty winter workhorse complete with mud guards next to Colognos, BMC TimeMachines, Look695s and Scott Foils which seem to be common place in Reigate).

    • #15028

      Steve Rodgers

      Good work on the ride out to Surrey – impressive.

      Succombs Hill segment: look like a beauty!
      Let’s take a ride out there sometime.

      • #15029

        Simon Clarke

        Succombs is nasty – Done it a few times at the end of an off road night ride. The good news is that not far after the top is an excellent chippy – the Captain’s Table. Quality recovery food.

  • #15025

    Andy South

    On Saturday I donned the Avanti jersey for a race at the Gravesend Cyclopark. Having attempted a couple of 80km road races in recent months and finding myself out of puff by 40km, I was happy that this was only a one-hour affair, although it still promised to be fairly intense. Nearly 60 of us lined up in the Category 4 (i.e. entry level) race, the whistle blew, and after an initial frenzied couple of laps things fortunately settled down a bit.

    I don’t think there’s ever a “still calm” at the Cyclopark, but on Saturday afternoon there seemed to be a 15-20mph howler blowing sideways across most sections of the circuit. I was careful in trying to switch position so that I stayed on the downwind side of other riders throughout each lap, and when I occasionally failed to do so I could really feel the difference. I also did a better job than I’ve previously done of staying somewhere near the front, which seemed to help reduce the energy-sapping “concertina effect” through the tighter bends. A couple of strong riders shot off the front at about half distance, but I managed to stay in the dwindling lead bunch. Into the final third of the race I was feeling better than expected, the lap board started counting down from 5 to go, and my thoughts turned to the finish.

    In the handful of circuit races I’ve done previously, I’ve always just tried to survive until the final lap and then do whatever I could still muster by way of “sprint” at the end. This usually sees me lose several places to bigger, more powerful riders. So this time I decided to go experimental: with just under 2 laps to go I hit the proverbial gas and went off the front to see what would happen. Answer: nothing. Nobody saw fit to come with me and I was managing to put increasing distance between myself and the bunch.

    Conscious of the huge scope for self-doubt at this stage, I tried to focus on going as fast as possible while not falling off and looking like a prize idiot. The next 7 minutes weren’t pretty and the heart rate stats make an alarming read, but the occasional shoulder check revealed that I was managing to stay away. By the time I got to the final uphill drag to the finish line there was steam coming out of my ears and the bunch was closing back in, so I opted for no more shoulder checks, put my head down, and counted down the remaining pedal strokes. As the line approached, spectators were shouting support, though not for me, suggesting there were other riders rapidly arriving within earshot, but one final push saw me cross the line a cool 1.2 seconds ahead of the next man, putting me third overall. Perfect pacing, luck, or some combination of the two.

    With hindsight, 3rd could just as easily have been 20th if the bunch had ramped things up a little earlier. However, it was exciting stuff, a great learning experience, and the first time I’ve understood how breakaways can possibly work. To top it all, podium finishes were rewarded with prizes, in my case, a sample pack of gels and an envelope containing a wrinkled tenner!

    This was part of the “Crits at the Park” series which runs through to September (this was number 4 of 10), so plenty of opportunities for more outings if anyone’s interested.


    • #15046

      Sam :D

      That’s absolutely fantastic- well done Andy!!

    • #15045

      Lee Staples

      Nice work Andy.

    • #15043

      Chris Dines

      Andy – that’s a brilliant achievement, and really exciting. Great write up. I reckon you’ll get better and better, so keep it up!

    • #15033

      Marek Sasura

      Well done, Andy! Great strategy and a very good outcome!

    • #15027

      Steve Rodgers


  • #15024

    Steve Rodgers

    I went out today after an hour focusing on muscle activation – I’ve been doing this prior to turbo for a few weeks now, as well as swimming regularly.
    This was my first venture outside in a long time and I initially prepared for just an hour – after an hour, all was fine, so I went on – exploring out past Snodland and around the lanes avoiding steep hills like Birling and Vigo.
    I found a few new hills and some lovely rolling lanes – a few pubs earmarked too.
    I was very happy to make it out for 60km in glorious weather and being able to put in some bursts of effort and keeping my knee tracking fine.
    Hopefully I’ll be back out on a club run in 2 weeks 😀

  • #15023

    Marek Sasura

    Please share your cycling experience from this weekend. If you have a wine tasting or a football experience, do not hesitate to spill the beans. 🙂

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