Vitus Bikes are proud sponsors of HotChillee’s multi-stage cycling events, providing each of the 20 ride captains with top-of-the-range Sean Kelly Ltd edition carbon race bikes for each of this year’s events.
HotChillee’s rides are some of the most stunning, professional and challenging rides on the global cycling calendar, and they include the eight training events in preparation for the Alpine Challenge, the Cape Rouleur and The London-Paris (L2P).
Each of the riders will be updating us throughout the year with their training ride diaries, the third of which comes from Ride Captain Michael Blann.
“With a change to the normal training schedule, this month’s HotChillee ride took the form of a 180km Sportive. The aim being to give riders the chance to test their legs over the same distance they will cover on The L2P and to help seed riders into their groups. I must admit the thought of doing 115 miles with 1700m of climbing in March seemed pretty daunting but given the great weather recently it was one not to miss. After a quick coffee and sign on, Group 2 set off at 7.20am with two pros in their midst – Yanto Barker (UK Youth) and Dean Downing (Rapha Condor) who had a ‘free’ weekend from their racing schedules but were keen for long miles.
With the morning temperature at three degrees, riders who had forgot to pack gloves were paying dearly for their schoolboy error, but after an initial hilly start over West Humble and Ranmore Common the temperature soon started to rise. With the North Downs behind them, the group settled down and the route became rolling as it passed Cranleigh and Alford and onto North Capel, which was the last chance to turn back if you didn’t want to do the Epic route.
From here on it was into unchartered waters and way off our usual training routes skirting the South Downs and some of the most spectacular roads I’ve ridden on in the UK.
After a quick feed stop the group got going again picking up a few Group 1 riders who had found the pace too hot and on past Goodwood and back north towards Rudgwick. By now there were a few tired legs and thoughts of going over the North Downs again were on everyone’s mind. Ian Whittingham for Sigma Sport had a plan – as the group hit the bottom of Cold Harbour he said farewell taking the easier, direct route back to Dorking and the finish. Everyone else pulled their bodies up over the climb with the two pros cresting the top first. By now it was everyone for themselves and after a quick descent all that stood between them and the finish was the 1:5 climb over White Down (the organisers’ coup de tete). Most zig-zagged their way up swearing but once over it was an easy roll to the finish and a well-deserved massage and refreshment.
I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable days on a bike I’ve had and one of the best routes for a sportive.”