Taking part in this years Vélo Birmingham and Midlands closed road sportive? Us too!! Ribble Cycles is the official bike partner of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands and with a team of us riding we thought we should know what’s in store!! We sent Manager of Ribble’s Mailbox store, Ashley Brough, to ride the 100-mile Vélo Birmingham & Midlands route to test it out ahead of the big day – here’s how he found it…
Vélo Birmingham & Midlands (formerly Vélo Birmingham) is returning on Sunday May 12th, bigger and better than before, with a new 100-mile closed-road route that will take 17,000 riders on an unforgettable journey through the West Midlands. Once again starting in the heart of Birmingham city centre, the new and improved route will take riders through the heart of the 2021 Capital of Culture – Coventry – where riders will cycle on the cobbled roads surrounding the historic Coventry Cathedral.
In between these two epic city centre adventures, riders will enjoy riding through Solihull, Warwickshire, Dudley and Sandwell where they will encounter stunning countryside, panoramic views, picturesque villages and iconic climbs… not to mention the tens of thousands of local residents lining the streets to cheer the riders on! Here we’ll break the route down and offer advice along the way.
LEAVING THE CITY – 10 MILES
The route departs right from the centre of Birmingham using the Coventry Road (A45) where the closed roads will be appreciated on the day. The first 10 miles are mainly urban before leading you into North Warwickshire and the market town of Coleshill, which gets its name from the River Cole. This section is could be busy as riders begin to spread out, so take your time and remember there’s lots of road ahead to make up the time!
Anything to be aware of? Not really… this first 10 miles is essentially free and predominately flat or downhill so bank these easy miles early on and do not get carried away!
INTO THE LANES – 10 – 30 MILES
Now this is where it all gets a bit prettier. The route opens up into the countryside and through Shustoke and Hurley before the first bit of elevation coming into Baxterley, but taking in the surrounding scenery it is hardly noticeable and a welcome distraction. From Baxterley the road rolls beautifully up and down for a few miles and you will also notice a sea of Bluebells in the surrounding fields before arriving in the small village of Fillongley.
Anything to be aware of? First main Rider Pit Stop at mile-29 for water/nutrition/toilets and mechanical support.
COVENTRY MEANS COBBLES. MEET RIBBLE ROUBAIX! 30 – 45 MILES
Once through mile-30 the route drops down towards Coventry city centre, giving a nice welcome break from the previous ups and downs and meandering lanes. The road begins to get a bit more urban on the approach into Coventry city centre which will welcome support from local residents. Once in the city of Coventry you will be greeted with a lovely cathedral backdrop to where you will actually be heading and attacking the short uphill cobble section – the ‘Ribble Roubaix’ – at mile-42 through the narrow side streets. This is a really cool feature to this year’s route and will make for a big crowd on the day with all the surrounding pubs and bars. It’s sure to give everyone participating a true Cobble Classics feel… I for one can’t wait!
Anything to be aware of? Just the water stop at mile-40 and the cobbled section at mile-42 which will require caution if wet on the day. Make sure you put the bike in a manageable climbing gear and stick with it and try to keep the cadence down on the cobbles to avoid the chain dropping.
Check out our #ribbleroubaix competition – see end of blog.
BACK TO THE LANES & THE MIDDLE OF ENGLAND. 45 – 70 MILES
Once the cobbles have been tackled you then exit the city into more stunning rolling roads taking you north west into the borough of Solihull and into the very centre of England, located in the village of Meriden, which you pass through before a good climb on the approach and drop down after. From this point the elevation remains pretty flat as we steer north west towards the stunning area of Knowle.
Anything to be aware of? More water if needed at mile-54 and the next main Rider Pit Stop is located at mile-66 for water/nutrition/toilets and mechanical support. There are a few climbs from mile-43 into Meriden until about mile-53… then it’s time for some downhill!
LAST KICK UP. 70-87 MILES
At this point, it’s natural for the legs to start to get a bit tired but with the vast majority of the work done, you are left with just a bit more graft. From Shirley, the route begins to climb for what is a good 10 miles, reaching the highest point of the course around Rubery at about 706ft. I won’t lie to you, it isn’t all downhill from here just yet… But you’re nearly home!
Anything to be aware of? More water if needed at mile-79 and the last main Rider Pit Stop at mile-87 for anything you need to get you to the finish line.
THE HOME STRAIGHT 87-100 MILES
The last remaining miles do take a little bit of a climb up to Harborne where the route is now more residential. It’s sure to be lined with local residents and families though, which will be an amazing boost so lap it up!! Once through this section, the city of Birmingham and its tall, iconic buildings are firmly in your sights, with a wonderful five-mile drop down to take you all the way to finish line.
Anything to be aware of? Not particularly – you’ve done the hard yards and now it’s time to enjoy the roll towards the finish line and celebrate with your mates!
This course has been really well thought through and has some spectacular roads and viewpoints taking in some stunning little villages, but all passing through two cities gives you some contrast too.
The route is very manageable for a competitive time if that’s your thing but also challenging enough to know you have been on a big day out whatever your ability.
I can’t wait to be joined by the other 17,000 fellow riders on May 12th for what I am sure is going to be an epic day.
What was I riding?
I had the pleasure of taking out our new Endurance SL R Series Disc for the day which was an absolute dream to ride with a Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain and Mavic Aksium wheels dressed with Continental 28mm tyres, which floated over the cobbles.
TAKE PART IN THE #RIBBLEROUBAIX COMPETITION
As we mentioned before, this year we’ve named the Cobbled Coventry section Ribble Roubaix! Ride the cobbles and get your photo taken on the Ribble Roubaix podium at Victoria Sq to be in with the chance of winning a £250 store voucher.
Click here to find out how to enter…