Just over one month out from the King’s Cup Gravel Festival and the inaugural British Gravel Championships we are excited the reveal the routes that await riders heading to the King’s Forest Suffolk in late October.
The Event HQ arena for the festival is at Wideham Farm, a luxury campsite and equestrian centre. The area is well drained with a sandy soil type. This goes for the whole of King’s Forest too. The arena is on a gentle slope up towards the forest. The exit to the forest from the arena is a little tight and rough under wheel for about 50m, before joining the main route. The routes for the Gravel Races, Gravel Fondo, Time Trail and Team Relay share similar characteristics. However, the Time Trial and the Team Relay stick to straighter hard packed gravel surfaces more than the Gravel Races and Gravel Fondo.
In any event, all of the tracks are at least vehicle width and are conducive for bunch racing (although this is not permitted in the TT). Malcolm Smith, Director of Golazo Cycling noted that during route scouting “we had four riders shoulder to shoulder across most of the tracks. The tracks are all rolling. There is little by way of perfect flat riding opportunity although there are no hills just lots of draggy trails.”
Upon leaving the Event HQ arena the first 4km take riders over fast hard packed pebble gravel and some loose chippings. The following 1km heads through woodland where the track enjoys the benefit of vehicle tracks with a grassy surface between.
Coming out of the woodland the route rolls along on tightly packed chippings heading north until riders have to navigate a grassy trail as a link to the next gravel section at 8km. The link route is still a vehicle width but has some stretches of more overgrown hedging which can easily be avoided.
The most northerly part of the route and the turning point where riders head for home is reached on tracks which are a mixture of gravel, sand and grass.
The Queen Mary Avenue and the Icknield Way lead the riders back close to the Arena. The route takes one more deviation at around 14km onto firm pea gravel tracks for a loop prior to re-joining the Icknield Way before entering the arena. The final stretch of the Icknield Way has a predominance of loose sand on its uneven surface. There is a change of surface from sand to grass as riders re-enter the arena.
Gravel Race & Gravel Fondo
The Gravel Race and Gravel Fondo lap begins on the same route as the Time Trial (TT) with the first 4km taking riders over fast hard packed pebble gravel and some loose chippings. The following 1km heads through woodland where the track enjoys the benefit of vehicle tracks with a grassy surface between.
After 5km the route deviates from the TT route. For 4km the trails take riders through woodland on a mixture of pea gravel, grass and hard packed sand.
The route then re-joins the TT route for around 1km on hard packed chippings again, a very fast surface.
The route then turns left onto wide grassy tracks through woodland between 11km and 15km, after which it re-joins the TT route to the end of the lap. The final stretch of the Icknield Way has a predominance of loose sand on its uneven surface. There is a change of surface from sand to grass as riders re-enter the arena.
Depending on the event category and age group riders will complete this lap 2-3 times.
Further information on all routes can be found at: www.kingscupgravel.com/routes