Circuit of Kent

The modern sportive in Britain owes a fair bit to the Circuit of Kent, which was one of the first cyclo-sportives to take place in the UK and the first to offer target times for gold, silver and bronze awards.

This year’s 15th edition was no different than the previous 14 – offering a beautiful route through the quiet countryside in the ‘garden of England’, impeccable organisation and a great atmosphere at the finish complete with free food, seating and live band.

The event starts out of Godden Green near Sevenoaks, and features a choice of two routes – 80km and 103km. The longer flavour includes an extra, mostly flat section that runs through Sissinghurst.
From the off, you hit the hills.

A sharp descent is followed by Roughway, a long steady ascent that thoroughly warms up the legs. From then on, the going gets considerably less undulating. Riders working in groups can pick up a great average speed for the central part of the ride, zipping past the area’s distinctive oast houses and orchards bulging with ripe fruit.

It’s all very Darling Buds of May and dreamy but there’s a finale that will smack you in the chops and bring you to your senses: the final climb of One Tree Hill. This cruelly-placed climb has an average gradient of around 11 per cent and it’s not what your tired legs want to tackle. The trick is to resist temptation to hammer it on the flat sections earlier in the day and save something in the legs for the final five miles.

Of course, the final slog is worth it. A vast feast of food is awaiting you in the pleasant surroundings where you can chat about the day’s ride with your comrades.

Total ascent: Medium route (80km/50 miles) 725m; Long route (130km/81 miles) 1,090m
Terrain: Hilly near start and finish, relatively flat in middle
Best: Beautiful autumn Kent countryside
Worst: Making a choice from the vast selection of cakes at the finish
769 participants
10 per cent women

Missed it? Try this…
The delightfully named Kentish Killer starts and finishes in the Brands Hatch motor racing circuit on February 24 2013 and offers 30, 50 or 70-mile routes. Wrap up warm

This article was first published in the November 1 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.