Our CW125 sportive is a rolling celebration of one and a quarter centuries of the nation’s favourite cycling title
Distances: 60 miles, 125 kilometres, 125 miles
Where is it? Oulton Park Circuit, Tarporley, is 15 miles east of Chester and 34 miles south-west of Manchester. The route brushes the Welsh border before looping back towards the Peak but falling short of it, hitting Mow Cop before the leg back home.
Why ride it? For the competitive ones among you, the route includes the challenging ‘Mow Cop mile’ and finishes with a timed lap of Oulton Park Circuit. For anyone feeling fresh at this point, the Strava KOM and QOM (at the time of writing) is 5.27 and 5.48.
History Having been established in 1891, Cycling Weekly is the oldest cycling magazine in the world. This is your chance to be part of a huge milestone in the cycling culture of the UK as the country’s biggest cycling magazine celebrates its 125th anniversary.
Enter at: BookMyRide
How do you mark a special birthday? More importantly how do you mark a 125th birthday? It’s not something most of us will have to worry about. But Cycling Weekly has reached that rare milestone and in a fitting celebration, the CW125 sportive is the opportunity for us to hit the saddle and celebrate this momentous occasion.
Aside from the total mileage (125 miles of course), the biggest challenge is Mow Cop. The climb begins just after a level crossing and is around eight-10 per cent for the first half. This is the place to attack your comrades — unleash your inner ‘Purito’ and have some fun. Just be careful to pace your effort, as ramps of 20-23 per cent follow.
This is a route that would make for a superb one-day race and, as I rode, I couldn’t help but imagine Alejandro Valverde or Joaquim Rodríguez decimating the bunch here.
The mostly flat, rolling parcours of the Cheshire Plains gives you two options. For some it’s the opportunity to cruise around enjoying the quiet and pretty lanes. For others this course represents an opportunity to ride a very fast 125 miles.
With plenty of flat roads and gentle gradients you can ramp up that speed if going for a gold standard time.
There aren’t many 125-mile routes as fast as this and if you own a pair of 50-60mm deep-section wheels, this is the route to use them on.
The run past the remains of Beeston Castle is a particular highlight. Sitting 107 metres above the plains, the small yet well-preserved turrets that are placed on the roadside are spectacular.
The tarmac of the approach road, Bates Mill Lane, is billiard table smooth; there is a quaint humpback bridge halfway along the road and stunning views of the defensive ruins atop the hill.
Interesting fact: the site was actually an Iron Age hill fort as far back as 1,200BC. There is a slight climb up to the castle gates, but it is not steep.
If beautiful views are what you’re looking for then you’re in for a treat just after summiting Mow Cop. A heather-backed ridge provides stunning panoramic views of the countryside spanning
the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire.
It’s mostly downhill, with flowing bends, allowing you to reach some seriously high speeds. Just watch out, as the road narrows in places.
The lap of Oulton Park’s pristine tarmac (which will be timed on the day) is a memorable finale to 125 glorious miles. Taking in the iconic Shell Oils hairpin bend, Dunlop Bridge and Druids Corner, it’s a chance to completely empty the tank and gun it on closed roads.
Routes and profiles
CW125 Sportive Short Route: 60 miles
CW125 Sportive Standard Route: 125 km
CW125 Sportive Epic Route: 125 miles
1 Hob Hill
The road coming out of Tilston heading to Duckington, comes just before the halfway point. It’s a steady 1.8-mile climb with a shallow gradient. It bites at the top where it hits a swift seven per cent.
2 Going the distance
Riding 125 miles is a long day in the saddle. With over 30 miles to go after Mow Cop, making sure you keep fuelling properly throughout the ride is essential.
3 Oulton Park timed lap
This is your chance to see what you can do on a timed lap of the famous circuit. For anyone feeling especially competitive (or for those who happen to own an F2 car), the lap record for the full 2.69-mile circuit is 1.24.
Nail it: 4 Mow Cop
At around a mile long, with an average gradient of 12 per cent, Mow Cop is a climb that rewards careful pacing, as the second half of this killer berg is much steeper than the first.
The glorious but brutal climb comes with nearly 94 miles already in your legs, so it will be a real test on the steeper sections, where the gradient is as much as 23 per cent.
Resist the urge to walk; grin and bear it and you will be rewarded with a great sense of achievement and some stunning views.
How to enter
Entry is £30-£40 and can be booked through the website: bookmyride.co.uk. Entry will be available on the day but only if not sold out.
Oulton Park, Little Budworth, CW6 9BW.From the north, take jct 19 of the M6 and follow A556 through Northwich towards Chester. From the south leave the M6 at junction 18 and follow the A54. Crewe and Chester train stations are approximately 12 miles away.
Where to stay
The Premier Inn Northwich Sandiway is five miles from the start line. For something more chic, try Willington Hall in Tarporley. Akesmere Farm and Lakeside Barn both offer bed and breakfast nearby.
Where to eat
Just off the A54 is a pub with garden, the Shrewsbury Arms. Pesto at Cabbage Hall is a country pub with an Italian menu or you could try the Fox and Barrel in Cotebrook. Cholmondeley Arms is an old school house that you’ll pass halfway through your ride — it does a good pint and killer steak.
Local bike shop
Cyclone Cycles in nearby Winsford or Rock Gardens Cycles in Tarporley.