Distances: 100 miles; 100km, 50km
Riders: Entered 420; Started 360; Finished 356
Terrain: Rolling Cotswold farmland, plus the steep Cotswold escarpment
Best: Cotswold scenery, mostly quiet roads, end-of-term feeling
Worst: Middle section full of big hills with false flats
As summer drew to a close and the leaves started to fall, early October saw 360 riders take part in the Santini Cotswold Autumn Classic, a traditional end-of-season sportive based out of Cirencester.
Along with the equally traditional 100-mile and 100km route, for the first time there was a 50km option, a perfect introduction for beginners or those that simply didn’t want to rush about. They also got the luxury of a later start.
Meanwhile, riders on the long and medium route set off around 8am in chilly conditions. There was a suitably autumnal thick mist in the air, and heavy dew formed on our arms and shoulders. Luckily, after about an hour we came to the hills near Purton and Blunsden. Not too long or steep, but enough to get everyone nice and warm.
By about 10am, conditions got even warmer. The sun came out and dispersed the mist as we meandered northwards on scenic roads via Lechlade, passing near Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold, then through classic Cotswold countryside to reach Chipping Campden.
Although the route had been undulating, at about 60 miles we reached the first proper hill: a big slog up to Broadway Tower. Fortunately, there was a feed station at the top. Unfortunately, our collective legs felt like jelly when we started to ride again.
Then came a swift descent off the Cotswold Edge, to be just as swiftly followed by a big haul up again from Winchcombe. As with many Cotswold hills, this one came in two main sections. The first was long enough and gave the impression to weary cyclists that the summit had been reached. So imagine our cries of joy when the second section reared up ahead.
But once over the top of the escarpment, the big hills were behind us and the roads levelled out as we crossed the A40 and headed south along the ancient White Way.
The last couple of miles took the route through the middle of Cirencester, where careful riding was called for to avoid pedestrians wandering in the road and a notable highlight was passing a granny on a mobility scooter.
Leaving the shoppers behind, we were soon back on proper roads, and a spin up the Cirencester bypass, to swing under the finish arch and enjoy a cup of tea in the sunshine.
With a good route, good pace, good weather and good company – not to mention a big plate of pasta for all riders at the finish – it was a perfect way to end the season.
Miss it? Try this…
An event titled Autumn Classic may mark the end of the season for some riders, but of course there are many more sportives out there. The same organisers offer a winter series of mini-sportives www.performancecycles.co.uk/mini as well as the accompanying Santini Spring Classic next Easter Monday, April 21. www.veloevents.co.uk.
This article was first published in the November 28 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!