The Down South Sportive by Fat Lad In Charge Richard Bye
I had a great day in Leighton Buzzard on Saturday 3rd September, putting the finish touches to our October event, the Down South Sportive. The day started well in our B&B with a smashing breakfast of Eggs Benedict Fat Lad Style - with an extra sausage!
Although I’d never cycled in the area before, I had heard lots of good things about it from our Flambassador Big Al Little, who used to live down there, so I was looking forward to it.
The routes have been planned by our event organisers Event Cycling and 3 of their team accompanied me on the ride.
Compared to what I am used to, the terrain is fairly gentle but the countryside is none the less beautiful and as we climbed out of the flat lowlands and up the gradual ascents towards the top of the Beacon, the scenery below expanded like a giant mosaic basin, with multi shades of gold and green.
Bison Hill is renown in the local area and it’s certainly a hill, but nothing much to worry about as it rises upwards, quite steep in places but over in a relatively short distance. Not long after Bison Hill we arrived at Flamsted, which as well as having 3 great looking pubs, also has it's own high street defibrillator.
A fair amount of the route is on single track, traffic free roads, which wind through ancient woodlands and in many places the trees have grown up and over both sides of the road and form a canopy of green over your head.
There are numerous quaint little villages on the way with their quirky brick houses and ancient white washed cottages, country pubs, village shops, greens and cricket grounds and of course tea rooms. My companions had their favourite and we stopped off at the Hub for an orange drizzle deliciousness!
The locals were a friendly bunch with lots of interest and conversation when we stopped for photos and some lovely fellow cyclists along the way. I have to admit to feeling a little bit of satisfaction as I overtook this fellow in his Sky gear - even if he was on a cross bike.
Ivanhoe beacon makes a spectacular location for our lunch stop with great views, before the pleasant undulating decent back home for the 25 and 50 milers and for the 75 milers, onwards to the gorgeous village of Aldbury and beyond for a little more!
This is a very different ride to our Up North Sportive in May, which makes for a great contrast in my opinion, particularly as I think it should appeal to the more novice rider who might have been a bit daunted by our Yorkshire hills. Rather conveniently coinciding with our 3rd birthday this is a nice gentle ride which promises to be a very different but nonetheless cracking event.