If ever there was a perfect setting for a sunny sportive to unfold on a weekend’s morning, the Meon Valley would be up there with the best. Its tree-sheltered darting country lanes, forest backdrops, field-side rolling roads and spectacular views across to the Solent, Spinnaker Tower and Isle of Wight make this one not to miss.
Its valley setting will provide enough hills to keep you on your toes, too, as any kind of sharp and testing climb could wait around any corner. With excellent views and punchy climbs thrown in with swooping terrain, this a fine all-round sportive that will take your breath away – in more ways than one.
As you set off from the ride’s base, you’ll notice that the more miles you cover, the further away you get from towns and civilisation as the route will guide you through the best of the Hampshire countryside, occasionally flitting across to West Sussex. Ambling out into the open, you’ll be led over the A3 and into the wilderness as you head through the back lanes and up towards Petersfield.
Checking past East Meon, you’ll have to slog it out on a series of drawn-out climbs before hitting a descent sweet-spot around Warnford, which gives around a mile of fast downhill action. Continuing to head north, the hills around the Upper Weald area may pose problems for tired legs, yet there’s still some distance to go.
Heading through Northington, Tichborne and Cheriton, what should be the penultimate climbing challenge comes with around 15 miles to go. From then on, it’s an uphill finish – drawn out over just under two miles – but you’ll soon be over the finish line to bask in the glory of having finished a tough but enjoyable route.