Wiggle Ashdown Sportive
If there’s one part of Sussex that is underappreciated while perfect for cycling at the same time, it’s the Ashdown Forest. The sprawling, undisturbed forest shrub land was once the hunting ground of grand tour stage winner Sean Yates, in his 1980s professional prime, and it proves equally testing for riders in the Wiggle Ashdown sportive.
Setting out from the South of England Showground, you’ll take in some of Sussex’s most beautiful unseen scenery on and up-and-down route that will push your legs to the limit in places. Sharp inclines around the Ardingly and Weir Wood reservoirs are short, yet extremely steep, and follow a gradual gradient build-up so take some beating.
These two hikes are the stand-out sticking points, and the rest of the route will take you out of the saddle on and off as you beg for the chance to rest, but cruising through the High Weald area on the kinder gradients makes up for the short pain – taking in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and any roaming deer you may see as you go.
Heading out towards Handcross, the route explores rural Sussex as it crosses the River Ouse before checking into Cuckfield, Balcombe, Haywards Heath and then heading east towards the Forest. Catching the crest of a long and swooping downhill section in Ashdown Forest is hard to beat as you’ll reach peak speeds. It almost makes the exhaustive climbing to get there worth it, with particular highlights around Hartfield and Coleman’s Hatch.
The tail end of the route skirts around East Grinstead and tired legs will be pleased to reach the finish line in a technical but very rewarding ride.
Event Location: The South Of England Centre Ltd, Selsfield Road, Ardingly , Haywards Heath, RH17 6TL