Review: Cobblemonster 2019!
Ever since finding out about it I’d been childishly excited about this one. Focusing on the many cobbled routes around London the Cobblemonster promised to be really good fun, original and in places quite challenging. And it didn’t disappoint!
Designed as an homage to the cobbled classics and scheduled to coincide with the greatest of them all, Paris-Roubaix, the Cobblemonster is organised by Brixton Cycles and raises funds for Evelina London Children’s Healthcare. I managed to rope in a friend (Daz) to come and take part and we joined the many other participants to register in Brixton in time for the 08.00 start.
The route is compact. At roughly 55km the majority is spent weaving among small backstreets in Central London to take advantage of the many cobbled routes available. This means that navigation (and signage) become really important and admittedly at times this was a bit frustrating. You quickly get used to it though and the organisers had done a fab job to ensure the route was visible.
Having set off from Brixton the weather threatened to get seriously nasty but thankfully remained dry and from then on proceeded to improve continuously throughout the day.
Hitting the Pave
Cycling on cobbles isn’t easy – they can be slippery, some sections have massive gaps and logically the idea of hitting the pave at speed seems uncomfortable. But obviously tyres can withstand a hell of a lot and they managed to cope with the route without issue – once you get used to it you become quite confident and thankfully we didn’t have any punctures. While the pave sections on the route are generally very short (nothing to rival the 2.3km Arenberg Trench) they are fairly frequent and the 55km route includes 30 sections.
Having weaved through Soho, Farringdon and skirted north of The City (more than one participant commenting on the similarity to their usual commuting route) we headed down to Wapping and south across the river over Tower Bridge. We then turned East and the section from Southwark to the Cutty Sark was for me the highlight. Unfamiliar territory (don’t think I’ve ever cycled there before) following the river past what look like some great pubs, the weather was perfect and we surged on in a pacey group.
The pave sections then become far less frequent and the final third of the ride involved a series of not inconsiderable hill climbs. Again I really didn’t know the area at all but the map indicated several LBH (lung-bursting-hills) and they certainly delivered.
- Maze Hill, SE10
- Honor Oak Park, SE23
- Canonbie Road, SE23
- Eliot Bank, SE23
By this stage my original companion Daz had abandoned me and I linked up with a couple of others, Steve and Keiron who knew the area fairly well. The climbs were tough but I really enjoyed them. I’ve been looking for some decent climbing routes around south London for a while and this section will definitely be repeated before long.
A couple of the climbs, particularly Canonbie Road are properly steep. While not that long they still pack a punch and you feel that any reward is hard earned.
From Crystal Palace Park we then turned back north and cruised more or less directly to the finish at Brixton Jamm to enjoy a pint in the sunshine. Sadly I couldn’t hang around for the rest of the afterparty which involved live screening of Paris-Roubaix and a BBQ, plus a raffle to raise more money for Evelina Children’s Healthcare, but it sounds like it was great fun.
A great event
It was a really enjoyable event – thoroughly original and a true urbansportive. I met some great people and while the route isn’t necessarily easy it did seem to attract a very mixed range of abilities. This was really refreshing and gave the event a very inclusive feel. Sadly this is the last year that the event is planned to take place but I will certainly be repeating the route and will be on the look out for any underground versions that take place in future.
Now it’s back to the IM70.3 training plan which has been a bit neglected over the past couple of weeks. New bike coming in 10 days (fingers crossed!) so hopefully more time in the saddle once that’s here.