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*Postponed because of coronavirus. Please see event website for details.*
The Bournville Classic is the latest addition to the Cycle Classics series of events modelled on the one-day ‘Classics’ – the inspiration this time being the oldest (and perhaps the most difficult) one-day professional cycle race in the world – Liege-Bastogne-Liege – first held in 1892.
The distinctive feature of this race is a series of a dozen steep climbs through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium (home of the Formula 1 ‘Spa’ circuit). The Bournville Classic follows a similar pattern, with a relentless series of sixteen tough climbs, one after another, right from the start.
These climbs are typically 1-2 km in length, with gradients up to 17%, criss-crossing the Lickey, Clent, Wast and Waseley Hills to the southwest of Birmingham, building to a climax with the Hagley Wood – Winwood Heath – Beacon Hill triad, all of which are over 15%. The extremity of the event is clearly visible in the dramatic sawtooth profile above, with steep climbs every 5km, constituting an athletic challenge of the highest order.
Of equal importance to the climbs in defining the character of the Bournville Classic are the ten long, broad, sweeping descents (typically around -4%). These descents have been carefully chosen so that they can be pedalled down hard in top gear, without spinning out and without needing to brake. This generates an intense feeling of speed, easily surpassing that of passively freewheeling down steeper slopes that require periodic braking. While other Cycle Classics events have relied on variations in road surface to generate speed and excitement (e.g. via cobbles, gravel roads), the Bournville Classic is completely different, utilising instead long descents to produce exhilarating sensations of speed and power. The philosophy is the same however, geared towards amplifying our experience of speed, and those pleasures that make cycling such an attractive and addictive sport.
The Bournville Classic is 68 miles long with 6000 ft (1800m) of climbing, mostly on quiet country roads, yet all within ten miles of Birmingham. It starts and finishes at the 19th-Century Cadbury chocolate factory in the workers’ model village of Bournville, Birmingham. Chocolate will feature at the feed stations. The event takes place on Sunday 05 July 2020, starting at 0830 at Cadbury World, Linden Road, Bournville, Birmingham, B30 1JR.
Entries are now open, priced at £29.