Last weekend I took part in the White Roads Classic a ride that has it’s roots very firmly based on the Strade Bianche a pro race that is raced on the white roads of Tuscany, Italy. The ride was 138km, slightly extended due to a course change, and uses both sections of road and off-road. The off-road is on the ridgeway, and the road sed every hill they could find!
For a ride like this the choice of equipment seems to be very important, The blurb says you can use a road bike but recommends wider tyres as the likelihood of punctures was high. I have to admit I spent a fair amount of time considering what bike and tyres to use, and in the end I went for my CX bike and some Conti speed cross tyres, a combination which turned out to be a winner!
The route started from the very pretty setting of Basildon Park, a National Trust property that looks like it would be worth a visit as it had a set of gardens, I think.
Once out on the road the route was very well marked and soon the first off road section appeared, the first of 17 sections, which were counted down Paris Roubaix style.
I saw someone with a puncture on this section an they were certainly not the last!
The route consisted of some memorable climbs, including White Horse Hill, a climb I have never done before and to be honest I won’t be rushing back as it was steep! I am not sure how they did the route design but it did seem to go up a lot more than it ever went down, infant there were sections where you went up , a little flat and then up again.
For me, one of the highlights of the route was riding through Lambourn, the Valley of the Race Horse, riding between the gallops was great and the views across the valley were stunning and even took some of the pain of a long uphill drag.
As the weather was good, the sun was shining the off-road sections were all dry and actually dusty which meant that a good speed could be held on the sections and where there was a down hill the speed went up and so was a good test of the handling skills.
As the day went on the distance went up, so did the road, and the enjoyment continued to increase.
I won’t say the ride was over all too soon as that would be a lie, but I did enjoy it. The biggest problem I had was that as I have been racing duathlons this year I have only really been doing 2 hour rides and so suddenly doing a 6 hour ride meant some pain was involved. I will certainly admit to under-estimating the ride, their website says it was hard, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite as tough as it was. However, saying that I finished it and there were more people behind me than in front plus I didn’t have any punctures!
On finishing the ride you are given a glass of prosecco and there was a table of nice Italian bread etc which was a good way to end the ride
Would I recommend this? Yes, Is it a proper challenge? Yes, Is it well organised? Yes and the most important question, is it fun? YES
Go and check out their website and have a look at the event and start to prepare for next year. The company have a couple of other events which I am sure are equally hard or possibly harder that might interest you.
All in all I had a great time, the route was excellent, very well marked and I am so glad I did it.