During the year Winchester CTC organises a range of challenge events that can be ridden by members and non-members alike. One of the most popular is the Watershhip Down. Below is a report and pictures of the 2014 event by Ian Douglas.
On a dull and drizzly Sunday 12th of January 120 intrepid cyclists left the Jubilee Hall in Kings Worthy on one of Hampshire’s foremost annual cycling events. The “Watership Down” is a 108 kilometre (67 mile) challenge, run by Winchester CTC. It has been run each year since the mid-1980s with one interruption in 2010 when snow and ice forced its cancellation.
From Kings Worthy this hardy band of cyclists made their way west of Andover, then to the first of the day’s major climbs at Chute Causeway in Wiltshire, touching briefly into West Berkshire, and then back into Hampshire for the final major climb of the day, the famous Watership Down climb, before returning to Kings Worthy. The event is not a race but an individual challenge. Riders come from far and wide and the Watership Down is now a must-do event for many, including local Winchester CTC members. Other members helped with the organisation and in particular dispensed hard-earned mugs of tea and slabs of cake to returning riders. The quantity and quality of the cakes was superb!
We had 147 entrants, 105 starters and 96 finishers – a forecast of ice may have contributed to the high number of non-starters. Most of those recorded as non-finishers completed the course but did not want their brevet card returned.
The Watership Down is a major event in our cycling calendar. The terrain is challenging and this combined with winter weather means that those completing the event can feel very proud of themselves.