sportive photo Phil O'Connor

Entries have already closed for the Hell of the Ashdown Forest sportive, with a full field of 450 riders, stark contrast to just a few years back, when a couple of dozen hardy souls would roll up at a village hall in Kent for what was then known as the Catford Reliability Ride.

The re-branding exercise has been a phenomenal success for the ride that takes place this weekend (Sunday, January 27) and all done without the need to bring in a firm of image consultants. The organiser?s masterstroke was to throw the word ?Hell? into the title. This is the sort of word that a sportive rider will Google in their endless quest to find the ultimate unpleasant day on a bike, along with ?beast? and ?mountain?.

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