Is This The Toughest 50 Miles In The UK?
Sir Chris Hoy recently discovered, as part of his national promotion exercise, how tough this region of the UK is....he tweeted "what a tough ride in Bradfield, near Sheffield today, seriously hilly, only took us twice as long as expected" adding "just finished the toughest ride of the week, beautiful place".
Sir Chris was referring to what is parochially termed the Strines - well known by the cycling community in general, but a particular training ground for the local elite - including the Downings', Ben Swift, Graham Briggs and Malcolm Elliot amongst many others - however in less than 12 months time, just remember that name, "Strines".
Why? Because this will be included in the latter part of the second stage of the Tour de France. The last 30 miles into Sheffield comprises some near 5000ft of climbing - those without the local knowledge, will immediately consider the rightly iconic Holme Moss - but a quick left at the bottom of Holme Moss, followed by a swift rise over the Woodhead Pass and they will be into the non-forgiving Strines territory.
The locals give names to their iconic climbs - "Deliverance" will be the first major ascent, although the peloton will descend the steepest part, at 30% - this is where Tom Boonen and our own Russ Downing (who of course knew the road well!!) overshot a switchback descent in a recent Tour of Britain.
However, the professionals next year, have got it easy! So say one of Sheffield's prominent cycling clubs: Sheffrec CC.
The boys in blue and white have organised their own annual "Tour of the Strines" for more than 10 years - with only just over 50 miles in distance, but with 27 unique recognised climbs, comprising over 8,000ft of climbing - certainly NOT for the faint-hearted or weak kneed!
Whereas the pros will experience only a small proportion of those climbs, and certainly not "Deliverance" in reverse (plus 26 others) as the Sheffrec boys do - a Sportive's nightmare!
As "One Love" is the unofficial motto of Sheffrec - just for this year, they have kindly decided to share their annual sortie.
As part of the celebration of the Tour de France 2014 coming to the region, and specifically through the Strines the club is organising this sportive event with all proceeds going to the Sheffield Children's Hospital.
The Tour of Strines Sportive will take place on Sunday 18th September, HQ being the Bradfield Village Hall - and due to the intensity of the challenge and the myriad of beautiful narrow roads to be encountered, the club have decided to put a max limit on 200 entries. £15 per entry with an option to contribute more to the Children's Hospital - all monies will go to the charity.
Entry is on the British Cycling website but be quick, we cannot allow more than that 200!
And on completion, we will let you decide - "is this the toughest 50 miles in the UK?".