The Cheshire Cat Sportive is an iconic cycling event in Cheshire, not least because of the infamous Mow Cop killer mile climb but because it’s simply one of the best Sportives in the North-West

Name:Cheshire CatOrganiser:Velo29 Events
Location:Crewe, CheshireEvent Website:link to website
Date:25th March 2018Price:£27.50
Event:SportiveStart Times:8:00am to 9:15am
Distance:50m, 80m, 110mFeed Stations:Yes, High5 sponsored
Climbing:1,500ft, 4,100ft, 5,500ftRide Profile:Rural. Challenging.
GPS Route:link to short route, medium route, long routeMap:link to route maps

Cheshire’s Premier Sportive

The Cheshire Cat sportive is one of several to include the infamous Mow Cop killer mile. It was the first really challenging sportive I did and as such, I have a soft spot for it. It’s also featured in my list of Cheshire Sportives, so if you fancy a few cycling related challenges this year, take a look at that page too.

For those that haven’t heard of Mow Cop, it’s a rather steep section of road that presents itself towards the end of a one-mile climb and quite rudely adds a 28% gradient at the very point you least want it. So, now you know why it’s called the Killer Mile.

Up until recently, the Cheshire Cat sportive was organised by Kilo to Go but after they fell into hard times, the nice chaps at Velo 29 Events picked up the rights and breathed new life into this very special event.

The Velo 29 sportive has three route options;

  • Short Route: distance 50m (83km), climbing 1,500ft (450m)
  • Medium Route: distance 80m (130km), climbing 4,100ft (1250m)
  • Long Route: distance 110m (174km), climbing 5,500ft (1650m)

I’ve completed the middle distance (80m) a few times and whilst it’s probably time I challenged myself to do the 110-mile route, March is too early in the season for me to be doing a century, despite cycling through the winter months.

Early season sportives are often beset by bad weather, with rain and wind adding to the sometimes less than fit cyclists that are daft enough to tackle them. However, I like these Winter-into-Spring events as they focus the mind, ensuring I keep cycling through winter and stop me being too much of a couch-potato.

Previous events have attracted 2,500 to 3,000 cyclists so if you are daft enough, you’ll certainly not be on your own.

Cheshire Cat Sportive Route Elevation – Long Route (110m)

Cheshire Cat Route Elevation

As you can see from this elevation, the challenge is very much in the first 40m (65km) and whilst there are some steeper climbs, they are manageable. The first ascent is definitely the hardest, Mow Cop is a mile-long hill, which ramps up to 28% gradient, right at the very end. If the weather allows, the views will be pretty special.

The second climb (Biddulph Moor) is gentle and you’ll be at the top before you realise it, assuming reasonable fitness levels of course. Climbs three and four are quite short (Meerbrook and Wincle) but you will see 10% gradients for some aspects of the climb. From this point onwards, it’s all straight forward cycling from there.

Cheshire Cat Sportive Route Map – Long Route

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Cyclists leave Queens Park in Crewe and after a few miles of town centre traffic, you head towards Shavington and then East to Alsager and onto Mow Cop for the first climb at 35km.

The next 30km is the hardest as this section contains the four climbs at Biddulph Moor and Rudyard. After Wincle, you’re pretty much riding on the flat.

From this point, cyclists head West towards Northwich, cycling through Sutton, Lower Withington and Goostrey on lovely cheshire country lanes. Traffic builds a little as you circumnavigate Northwich but it gets better by the time you reach Mouldsworth.

The ride back to Crewe passes near Tarporley, Little Budworth and Wetterhall, all of which will be familar to regular Cheshire cyclists. The ride into Crewe is on busier A-roads but organisers try to keep you on the quieter roads where possible.

Cheshire Cat Sportive Route Map – Medium Route

cheshire-cat-sportive-route-medium

Cheshire Cat Sportive Route Map – Short Route

cheshire-cat-sportive-route-short