When we designed the route for this one we thought it would be a good, challenging ride. Riders who took part told us the route was brutal, but here’s the thing, they also loved it. So we’ve not changed a thing on this one for 2018, it’s just happening earlier in the year as part of a re-launched Staffordshire Cycling Festival.
From the town centre you’ll head east out of town via Sandon where the climbing is quickly underway. Millwich bank is your first major challenge followed quickly by further ascents to get you to the high spot of the route at Fulford after just 13 miles. As you’d expect, there’s more down than up after this as you head to Stone and the first feed of the route at Lymestone Brewery. Don’t eat too much though as it’s straight back onto the climbs after the feed. Downs Banks is the next climb taking you back up to Rough Close before you again descend to Wedgwood, then Barlaston before the last 2 big climbs of the day. Chase Lane climbs straight from the A34 and is followed by the Beech Caves with it’s double hairpin turns to make you feel all alpine for just a few moments!
With all that climbing under your belt you’ll be glad to know that the top of Beech Caves is the half way point on the route and the second half of the ride is relatively flat in comparison to the first. Narrower lanes characterise the second half of the ride and while there are undulations as you make your way through to Sugnall and on to Knightley and Gnosall there are plenty of chances to let the legs recover too.
The last few miles of the ride bring you back from Gnosall through Church Eaton, Bradley and Haughton and finally into Stafford where you’ll ride up Greengate Street to finish in the Market Square.
And if all that sounds like too much?
The shorter 39 mile variation cuts out a couple of the bigger climbs and takes a more direct route back to Stafford after the high point of the ride at Beech. You can opt for that when you enter and start a little later or, if you’re struggling on the day, take the easier option along the route, there are two chances to do that.