The Wiltshire Wildcat may be the first Cycling Weekly sportive of the year, but it’s certainly not a gentle start to 2017.
When: Saturday 4 March 2017
Where: Salisbury Race Course, Netherhampton, Salisbury, SP2 8PN
Why ride it? If the historic nature of the route isn’t up your street then the stunning scenery of the Wiltshire hills will surely capture your imagination. And, of course, it’s the first Cycling Weekly sportive of the season, so chalk it down as an excellent opportunity to brush off the winter cobwebs with a challenging ride.
“This is a good place to ride; nice scenery, quiet roads. It’s very beautiful,” says Velosure-Giordana rider Marcin Bialoblocki of the Wiltshire Wildcat route, and he’s not wrong in his assertion. Taking in the stunning scenery of the Wiltshire hills, the Wildcat is a treat for the eyes and the legs and gets the Cycling Weekly sportive season off to a great start.
Just because the scenery is so great though, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to work a little bit hard in order to enjoy it. Your climbing legs will certainly get a kickstart on the Downs with a series of challenging hills on all three routes.
If you are a Strava user, for a more detailed look at the route map and a 3D route profile click here.
Short Route: 41 miles
The 62-mile ‘standard’ route sees you climb over 3,500ft with three tough climbs before the final drag up to the finish line. The route, starting at Salisbury Racecourse, drops down to follow the River Ebble through a series of historic Saxon villages until it reaches Long Bottom. Here you will face the toughest climb on the course.
The Ashmore Down climb crosses the Drover’s Trail and up to over 800ft – a climb of well over two miles – but the reward is a panoramic view over Melbury Wood. But once you’ve admired the view you are thrown right back into route, winding down into the Stour Valley and through more of Wiltshire’s countryside and quaint villages.
The village of Sutton Waldron signals the start of the second of the route’s major climbs, this time to the top of Sutton Hill. The mile-long climb marks pretty much the midway point on the epic 80-mile route and hits 10 per cent in places, so you’ll need to have some life left in your legs by the top.
An undulating jaunt through the Tarrants culminates in the final real climb of the day, starting with a hairpin bend up towards Gurston Down. Once there, however, you continue up to Woodminton Down – a climb in total of just over two miles. While not a particularly hard climb, coming so far into the ride you have to temper your efforts earlier on to avoid cracking so close to the finish.
When you get to the top of Woodminton Down though, it’s virtually all downhill for the next three miles, so time to rest your legs and shake out the lactic acid ready for the final puncheur’s climb back up to the racecourse.
Pick up your medal, grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake, and even treat yourself to a post-event massage to soothe your weary legs. Once the Wildcat is out of the way it’s time to plan for your next Cycling Weekly sportive!
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