Photo Credit: David Noakes  

Guest Blog Post - Ken Robertson (Dartmoor Classic)

Once upon a time, well in 2005, a member of the Mid-Devon Cycling Club, Ron Keegan came to a club committee meeting and said “I have an idea. Why don’t we put on a mass participation ride on Dartmoor?” To the members of the committee it seemed like a good idea; it might raise some badly needed funds for the club so a sub-committee was formed.

Planning was meticulous and in late 2006 we were ready for the first of the now hugely successful Dartmoor Classic Sportives. It was to take place in May 2007. The HQ was found; the route selected; liaison was carried out with the police who were sceptical about the number we had in mind. They thought that 1,000 would be over ambitious. We got 1,300 entrants!

We were on a learning curve; a curve that continues with each year as we strive to make the event better and better.

Ready to start. Photo Credit: David Noakes   

On the weekend of Saturday June 22nd and Sunday June 23rd 2019 the thirteenth edition of the Dartmoor Classic Sportive will take place over three different distances. The HQ is the Newton Abbot Racecourse. On the Saturday between Noon and 6 p.m. many of this year’s 3,600 riders will arrive to register and then stroll around the event village with the many stalls, snapping up as many cycling related bargains as they can.

On Sunday from 05:00 more riders will turn up to register and get ready for the day ahead. At 05:50 the first batch of about 200 riders who are on the 108 mile Grande route will attend a safety briefing and then at 06:00 they will be off, under escort to the starting point in Clay Pits Way, Kingsteignton. So it continues at 10 minute intervals.

From 07:00 those in the Medio will start their 67 mile rides and finally form 08:00 the Piccolo riders will set off to cover 38 miles.

All riders will go to Bovey Tracey then climb up to Becky Falls. Here the Piccolo riders will go through Manaton to Beetor Cross and the B3212. The rest will go left and the first really steep climb of the day up Beckaford Hill. From the base of the hill to Haytor Vale is a timed and closed road section.End of the timed section. Photo Credit: David Noakes  

Once over Haytor, it is left at Hemsworthy Gate and down to Holne Bridge before the twin assaults of Holne Chase Hill and up to Holne Moor. Once through Hexworthy, it is on to Rundlestone and left to the control and feed station in Princetown.

The Grande riders then sweep down to Dousland through Horrabridge to Tavistock. Once past the Stannary town they climb and drop through Chillaton, Lydford to a second control at North Brentor.

From Harford Bridge there are three climbs in rapid succession – Batteridge, Pork and Merrivale Hills and Rundlestone once more. Relief for all on reaching the control and food.

Both Grande and Medio will use the same route to the finish. It is through Postbridge to Beetor Cross, where the Piccolo riders have emerged, and Moretonhampstead before the last serious climb to Doccombe. It is then a glorious 3 mile descent followed by the gentle road alongside the River Teign to the finish timing clock at the end of Clay Pits Way.

One last climb. Photo Credit: David Noakes  

Once back at the HQ it is time to collect the appropriate medal, the T shirt, the all-important goody bag and telling anyone who will listen what a great day you had. After food, drink and possibly a massage, contented riders make their way home. The first riders will get to the HQ at around 11:00 and the last ones just before 18:00.

Why does the club organise what is a massive undertaking? There are many reasons. There is great pride in the club as this event is the biggest in the UK put on by an amateur club. Most other sportives are promoted by commercial enterprises. It is recognised as one of the best signed and marshalled events in the country – we have 130+ volunteers out on the road and more at the HQ. We are able to offer our 500 or so members benefits that other cycling clubs can only dream of being able to do. We donate 20% minimum of the surplus to local good causes. They can be to hospices, other sports clubs.

Over this weekend if you want to see cyclists and cheer them on you have all the information you need. If you want to avoid cyclists, this information will help you do that.

Will the event continue? All that can be said now is the planning is in hand for 2020.

Find out more about Dartmoor Classic Sportive on their website here


Dartmoor Classic
Dartmoor Classic

One of the most outstanding areas of the region is Dartmoor, a National Park covering 368 square miles of unspoilt moorland and home to the Dartmoor Classic, one of the toughest cycle races in Britain.



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