After several months of consultation, we are delighted to be able to announce our new Challenge Henley triathlon bike route for September 8th 2013. In 2012, Challenge Henley was pound for pound the fastest iron distance event in the UK. This year’s new route promises to be even faster than in previous years, giving athletes the best opportunity in the UK to achieve their quickest long distance time.
As in previous years, the bike route will begin at the prestigious Henley Business School, heading towards Henley and passing the eventual finish area at the stunning Phyllis Court Club.
Athletes will turn away from Henley and in to the Chiltern hills via Fairmile. This is the first of the inclines, taking cyclists past Bix and up to Nettlebed (the home of our official Charity, Sue Ryder hospice). The gradient peaks at 6%, but much of the 4 miles is at a very gentle 2%, allowing athletes to really attack this first hill.
When reaching the roundabout at Nettlebed, athletes will turn left along the B481 and continue along through Highmoor. The B481 turns left in to Greys Road (this is the point where in previous years; athletes would make their first u-turn). After just 1 mile, athletes make a right turn at Greys Green through the village of Rotherfield Greys to the first turn point just before Gillots Lane. This 6 mile section is extremely fast as the gentle 300ft decent gives athletes the opportunity to clock some fast miles and drive that average speed up.
And as this is the first turn point, you will retrace your route back up to the Nettlebed roundabout. The 1 – 2% gradient is so slight during the majority of this section that the athletes will not feel that they are going up hill and we expect that by the time Nettlebed is reached, average speeds will still be high. Additionally, this stage of the route is well protected from the winds with some beautiful tree lines and wooded areas to the sides of the road. When reaching this point on the route, athletes will already have completed 17 miles and will be nearly half way through the first lap.
We are delighted to be able to take the athletes left at this roundabout in to Nettlebed High Street, the heart of this traditional English village and along the A4130, where there is a gentle climb over about 1 mile, peaking at a gradient of 5% and gaining about 130ft in height. The next 8 miles is the flattest part of the course and should prepare athletes for our new cheeky Howe Hill that dissects Howe wood.
Before getting to Howe Hill, however, athletes will turn left off the A4130 past Huntercombe Golf Club through Morgan’s Wood and power along to the second turn point, on what will be a superfast section of the course. On returning back to the A4130 athletes will return towards Nettlebed for approximately 200 metres only, before taking a left turn through Huntercombe End joining the B481 heading north towards Watlington. This section is quite technical, allowing athletes the opportunity to recover a little before hitting the B481 and 2 miles of fast road.
And now for the best bit….
2 miles of decent to the next turn point will allow athletes to see what they will have to cycle back up – welcome to Howe Hill! It’s a great climb; first 2 miles let you get your climbing legs ready as the road progresses from 1%, to 2% to 3% during the first 1.5miles with a height gain of 130ft.
The following 0.3miles is the cheeky bit; 210ft, with the gradient progressing from 3% up to 13%. Let’s be clear, this is a lung buster and we would imagine that most will want to get out of the saddle at this point. The final 0.3miles will seem like a walk in the park as the gradient slowly drops to 9%, 4%, 2% and 1%. And then it’s over (for now!).
The remainder of the route is a gradual decent back to Nettlebed (where a left turn will take athletes back to the roundabout at Nettlebed and a straight on here leads to the final 4 miles of the first lap covering a drop of 500ft – expect to finish the lap at speed!
On completion of lap 1 you will turn on Fairmile to complete lap 2 and then again to complete lap 3. Expect big crowds here.
After completing your third lap, athletes will continue along Fairmile before turning left at the mini roundabout and then right in to the Phyllis Court Club, where you will find a team of Volunteers ready to take your bike from you a Transition 2 so you can continue on to the run section of the race.