Hardly route of all evil but definitely a challenge

Rob's Charity Challenge route and elevation profile
Rob's Charity Challenge route and elevation profile
Kirsty McSeveney, second left. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171049-37)

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The waiting is over. The route for my Tommy Godwin 205-mile cycling challenge has been unveiled.

And it is every bit as formidable as I expected.

For those of you who have not been following my weekly column, where have you been?

I am riding 205 miles on Sunday, June 8, in a bid to raise a few pennies and plenty of awareness for the Association for Glycogen Storage Disease (AGSD-UK).

Since beginning this diary last month, I have undergone lactate profiling with Simon Clark of Cycling Performance Science IN-MOTION to focus my training, tackled my first ton (100-mile ride) and quizzed sports psychologist Chris Wagstaff on coping strategies for the big day.

Now I have been able to take a closer look at the route.

Designed by AGSD-UK development director Allan Muir, who is the mastermind behind the Raleigh-backed event, it comes in at a shade over 205 miles.

And depending on which mapping website takes your fancy – Garmin Connect, MapMyRide, Ride With GPS to name a few – it could feature anywhere between 6,800ft and 7,500ft of climbing.

The course profile is illustrated by the natty graph below.

For argument’s sake – and to ramp up the epic-ness of this challenge (yes, I’ve just invented that word) – we will go with MapMyRide and its reported 7,427ft of uphill struggles.

That’s 2,264m to the rest of us. No doubt enough to register pretty high on my pain scale which, after last week’s meeting with University of Portsmouth lecturer Wagstaff, I am rapidly attempting to redefine.

The ride will start and finish in Petersfield. We will begin at dawn, possibly before, but just what time we will roll back into the town is anyone’s guess.

We will head towards Winchester first and what better way to get us prepared for 15 hours or so in the saddle than to tackle the first of the day’s four major climbs inside the first three miles.

Okay, this is hardly the queen stage of the Tour de France but the 2.5mile rise through Langrish – with its maximum gradient of 18 per cent – is certain to get pulses racing in our dozen-strong peloton.

From there we spin on through Alresford and Winchester, before heading south to Bishop’s Waltham towards the second climb.

For the nerdy cyclists among us, of which I count myself one, these climbs are all category fours – according to Strava, which granted is something akin to the Wikipedia of cycle mapping.

Anyway, climb two is Portsdown Hill from Southwick.

Many readers will have tackled its 1.7mile drag at an average gradient of 3.2 per cent, with varying degrees of success.

I know it only too well from my training rides and pacing will be crucial as we tackle the steepest section, on the approach to QinetiQ, with more than 150 miles still to ride.

Go too deep here and, however much respite we find along the pan-flat seafront from Bognor to Brighton, there will be nothing left for the double trouble we will face around Beachy Head.

I’ve never visited the Seven Sisters Country Park, so this will be another memorable experience – in more ways than one.

The first climb is 2.2miles with 14-per-cent stretches of hurt, while the second is 2.6miles long with an average gradient of 3.5 per cent.

Once over that summit it’s plain sailing, right? Don’t count on it.

The graph is somewhat misleading here.

While there are no big climbs, the constant undulations of the route from Eastbourne home – via Burgess Hill and Midhurst – will give us no time to relax.

And with fatigue no doubt rearing its ugly head at this stage, our preparation will be brought into sharp focus.

So with that in mind, I’d better get back on my bike. Four weeks to go!