As most of the UK swelters in a June heatwave, Cycling Weekly travels to damp Dartmoor for a Classic Sportive

Two years ago I reported on the inaugural Dartmoor Classic having completed it in some of the worst riding conditions imaginable. Four punctures en route and several hours of the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden in couldn’t, however, disguise the fact that there was a genuinely great event in there somewhere, waiting to get out.

After three runnings, year on year improvement and a shift in position on the calendar, I’m pleased to be able to report that my prediction was correct. The event has now become one of the very best on the UK circuit and despite its tender age it is fully deserving of its eponymous classic status.

 cyclo sportive, britsh sportive, 2009

This year’s switch in the calendar raised a few eyebrows as traditionally the Classic was one of the curtain raisers to the sportive season, but organisers Mid Devon CC were confident in the strength of the event to move it closer to the big boys like the Dragon Ride in the height of sportive summer. The sold-out entry of around 2,000 riders was testament to their belief that the event would prove a big draw even with so many other events already scheduled in late June.

Local awareness campaigns were instigated to lure big numbers of more leisure-oriented riders into the shorter 100-kilometre route, the thinking being that those same riders would enjoy the experience and sign up again for the longer version in 2010. The idea seemed to have paid off as unlike the Dragon Ride, which draws a huge portion of it’s entry from the London based clubs, there was a real local feel to the Dartmoor Classic.

cyclo sportive, britsh sportive, 2009

What those locally based riders of a more leisurely demeanour thought of the course is hard to imagine though as this year’s 100-mile route was seriously tough, featuring as it did 3,407 metres of climbing, a significant amount more than the Dragon in some ten fewer miles. So it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that some of those climbs were a little on the steep side and that this was a challenge ride in the truest sense of the word.

cyclo sportive, britsh sportive, 2009

If the course was epic, the infrastructure underpinning the event was rock solid. Brightly dressed marshals with red flags on every junction, great signage and a much improved start area all contributed to a smooth and impressive third running of the Dartmoor Classic. So it was probably too much to ask for ideal weather as well. After the previous two years outings had witnessed the extremes of the climate, monsoon like rain in 2006 then blistering heat 12 months ago. This year saw something in the middle with a cloying grey drizzle permeating a lot of the ride, but it was warm enough and nobody seemed to mind on such a good course.

cyclo sportive, britsh sportive, 2009

The organiser – Ron Keegan, Mid Devon CC

The post-event response from the riders says it all really. I’ve had an avalanche of emails raving about the event, many saying it’s now the best organised sportive in the UK and that other organisers should be taking their lead from us. A lot of riders said that the Dartmoor Classic is now the benchmark for other sportives to strive for. Personally, I’m bursting with pride about what the Mid Devon CC have achieved.

To find out more go to the Dartmoor Classic official website

cyclo sportive, britsh sportive, 2009 

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