59 mile route - 15th June 2014
Location: Dover & France
The French Revolution Sportive is an event with a difference, it is a day trip and sportive in one neat package. The entry fee includes both ferry crossings (from Dover to France and back) as well as the usual support and feed stations of which you would expect on a standard sportive. The route itself starts and ends in Calais, takes a clockwise loop southward and includes 3326 ft of climbing.
As it is a very early start to the day myself and my cycling buddy Paul decided to stay at a B&B on the night before. After very little sleep (2 hours of light sleep! brain just wouldn't switch off!) I arose at 4.15am - the earliest I have ever had to get up for a sportive! However, I had no time to be tired, I'm was too excited to see how the day would pan out, the forcast was also set for decent cycling weather - another t-shirt and shorts day yippee!
At 5.15 am I met Paul outside the garage in which our bicycles are stored in, after a bit faffing and setting up of our bicycles we are ready to roll. We rode on down to the meeting point which just happens to be a 10 second roll down the hill from the B&B - easy peasy!
We sign in at the desks and wait around for everyone to arrive, at 6am we were mass escorted via a short ride through the ferry terminal and onto the ferry, it was a very privileged feeling to be one of 700 riders riding onto a ferry. We parked our bikes along the walls of the vehicle deck and gradually made our way up to the passenger deck, we then waited in a long queue for our complimentary tea and crossiant (which tasted lovely). It was an amazing sight to see a ferry mobbed full of cyclists! Whilst en route across the English Channel we had to sign in properly in order to pick up our rider number and timing chip.
A hour and 15 minutes later our ferry docked in Calais, once more a mob of 700 riders glided off the ferry and toward the starting area which is just outside Calais Ferry Port. A rider briefing occured in which we are told to be back for 4.30 at latest, wether that meant UK or French time nobody seemed to know.
At first it felt odd to be riding on the right hand side of the road but I quickly adjusted. After first riding through Sangatte we soon found ourselves rolling alongside the English Channel toward the first climb of the day - Le Cap Blanc Nez. This climb is a Cat 4 and is over a mile long in which I would describe as... knackering! The descent down again was lovely, steep and windy with a few switch backs whilst offering a fantastic view of the French countryside ahead (little did we know is that we 'll be crawling back up descent again sometime later!).
Not long afterward we soon started to climb again up the D243 Road, by the time I reached the top I was starting to lag, I think the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me and I also realised it had been a while since I last ate (well the time flew by since the crossiant so didn't notice!) After cracking open a gel and scoffing a banana I made my way to the first feed station which was at mile 20. The feed station itself was a long table full of chocolate chip brioche, flapjacks, gels, cake, bars etc. There were also decent toilet facilites in the building next to it (long queue for the ladies mind!).
The route then took us through the delights of France's scenic countryside through places such as Wierre Effroy and Hermelinghen, there were some very pretty roads and views and a few times children shouted "Allez!" as we rode by.
Once more an ample amount of cake, gels etc were on offer at feed station number two, toilet facilities were portaloos which were adequate.
As we were nearing the end, the English Channel and Le Cap Blanc Nez once more came into our sight, we had one giant long leg sapper of an incline which seemed to go on for ever which is immediately followed by the climb back up the same windy steep switch back hill in which we had gleefully descended earlier. I was pretty knackered by that point and suprised myself by getting to the top without stopping.
The last 7 miles were a straight level roads affair retracing our steps through Sangatte, time to do a spot of turbo boosting!
Around 6 hours later we arrived back in Calais at the finish line where we were presented with a finishers t-shirt, medal and bottle of goodies which consisted of Hi5 gels and tablets.
We boarded the ferry back to Dover feeling triumphant... and knackered! Time to head straight towards the ferry resturant for our well earned recovery meal! (Fish 'n' Chips and Sausage 'n' Chips)
Brilliant day out, up at 4.15am and back in Dover at around 8pm, I slept well that night!
Compiled video footage of my day...
Hats off to the team who organised this event, to get 700 riders from Dover to France and back is a feat in itself, and from what I observed, it ran like clockwork.
For £65 it was well worth it!
None! Zilch! Nada! Zero! Computer say no!
I'll be back again next year!