Now in its third year, the Severn Bridge Sportive moved from October to August for 2012, to coincide with the Castle Combe Cycling Festival, and the new slot certainly meant plenty of sunshine.
The first mile took us round the bends and chicanes of Castle Combe motor racing circuit before the route meandered through a mix of leafy country lanes and fairly quiet B-roads leading up to the crest of the Cotswold Edge.
Then came two big descents and the highlight of the day: crossing the Severn Bridge. With a gentle breeze and clear views, riding our bikes high above the water was a fantastic experience.
The well-stocked feed-station at Chepstow marked the halfway point of the short route, while riders on the long route tackled a hilly 40-mile loop through Southeast Wales before crossing the Severn Bridge again and heading back towards Castle Combe.
The hardest point on the long and short routes was the last big climb at Hawksbury Upton with about 10 miles to go. But then it was all downhill with the wind behind – a very enjoyable finale, topped with a Roubaix-style half lap of the racing circuit before crossing the finish line to the cheers of the festival crowds.
The Severn is never a bridge too far
Total ascent: Short route (97km / 61 miles) 470m; Long Route (166km / 104 miles) 1088m
Terrain: Undulating in England, hilly in Wales.
Best: Excellent feed-stop, plus free pasta meal at the end.
Worse: Final hill
Participants entered = 325
Male/Female split = 283/42
Oldest rider = Edward Sedgemore, age 70
Youngest rider = Finlay Dove, age 12
Missed it? Try this…
There aren’t many sportives that include a motor racing circuit and cross a major road bridge, so to get this experience your best option is to ride next year’s event on 2 June 2013.
This article was first published in the September 27 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.