Cycling Box Hill of the Olympic Cycle Route

See also: Where to watch the Olympic Road Race

Much of the 2012 road race will done around Box Hill. London Cyclist reader Ian has been investigating the 15.5km route that will be covered nine times by the male cyclists and twice by the women.


Bike route 884987 – powered by Bikemap 

Having lived a few miles from Box Hill for a number of years when it was announced that it would be forming part of the 2012 Olympic road race I had to check it out. Not only out of curiosity but also to scout out great spectating spots.

On a warm February morning I took the opportunity to make the first ascent of the hill. Surprisingly, not only did I find it fairly easy to climb but I also found myself passing a couple of fellow cyclists on the way!

In my personal experience on an aluminium hybrid with panniers and fat tyres the hill is definitely doable at a fast pace. Therefore, any commuters out there wishing to give it a try and have something to relate to when watching the Olympic rides should definitely take on the challenge! I’m looking forward to trying it out again with a lighter setup.

As an overview, the climb is on fairly narrow roads with a reasonable surface (this is Surrey we’re talking about!) once over the top the speed will rise and there are several places where even a cautious descender can top 30mph. Traffic wise it’s not too bad, for the bulk of the loop motorists give you room, and taking primary position helps. The run along the A24 features a cycle lane for some of the way, but it is the fastest section. If you’re not keen on riding with fast traffic, there are a couple of roads that allow you to avoid the A24.

Riding Box Hill

My test ride started at the foot of Box Hill near the hotel. From here the climb begins.

Box hill sign

From there you meander your way up the hill. Be aware of other cyclists as you do this.

hairpin-turn

Once this tough initial section is over you arrive at a cafe but you should keep going as you are not at the top yet.

The cafe you see on the climb

At the top of the hill you can take in the views.

King of the hill

Then it’s time to reap the rewards with the run back down to the hotel, through Box Hill village. Although you should look out for sunken manhole covers on the road.

Box hill cycle route

The next few sections offer some serious speed although don’t forget the road isn’t closed to just cyclists yet.

Coming-down-box-hill

Time for some braking again, scrubbing off 20+ mph as the next turning arrives. It’s a left turn at Beaverbrook roundabout onto the A24 and another fast stretch – again 30mph can be reached here even into a headwind! I’ve ridden the loop several times while putting this guide together and every time I’ve gone down this stretch trying to find another gear! With the pros having the roads closed, they’ll be hitting the roundabout at 20-30 so very high speeds are on the cards!

turn-box-hill

At the next roundabout it’s another left turn, there’s a segregated cycle lane here with some cross hatchings to keep the motorists away.

segregated-lane

Finally, it’s back to the services, roundabout and hotel. Your legs should feel fresh after all that fast running – time for another lap!

The Olympic Cycle Route

If you wish to follow the entire ride then it has been plotted on Bike Route Toaster. In terms of good spectating spots you’ll want to grab one of the ascents around the hill. Remember that the riders will be travelling in a counter clockwise motion. You’’ll have to get there early as it is expected around 100,000 spectators will be your competition for prime viewing spots.

For more London cycling routes checkout the 30 London Cycle Routes eBook.

Big thanks to Ian for reporting back on his ride around Box Hill!

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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11 Responses to Cycling Box Hill of the Olympic Cycle Route

  1. skippy 25/04/2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Not having been in Beijing i am unable to compare but this route is definitely no match for the Athens or Sydney circuits !
    From a spectator point of view the opportunities are limited and the only thing recommending this choice is the lack of access for those bent on mischief . With the need for Spectator stands at the finish and the Teams refreshment areas i feel sure the best way to view this event is with a TV set possibly in the comfort of the house.

    Does anyone else feel like giving up a day to discomfort because the access is limited and thus seems to be a pedestrians only exercise ?

  2. idavid 25/04/2011 at 6:55 pm #

    It’s certainly a great place to ride. Be sure to return to London via Westhumble and Ranmore Common, a cheeky little climb indeed, more like a bloody corkscrew if you ask me.

  3. Iain 26/04/2011 at 7:33 pm #

    If they’re going to fence it off as they seem to be treatening, then it’ll be silly and they’ll end up with the same atmosphere as the commonwealth games (none!) As for the choice of route, for once the route should present a good opportunity for a certain manxman (fresh from the Tour de France) in a sprint finish, otherwise if the nations don’t work together, there’s a chance for a breakaway. There’s a test event in August so will see how that goes, I’m sure the riders would rather have crowds lining the climb than fencing (heck we’ll even promise to wear clothes and not run alongside!)

  4. Filippo Negroni 03/05/2011 at 11:24 am #

    I personally think Box Hill is *not* the best climb, and neither is doing it 10 times!

    South-Eastern English countryside is not about climbing, it’s about rolling and winding roads and country lanes.

    IMHO, the organisers have missed the point.

    I don’t see why we need the climbing to be artificially introduced, when we have such beautiful routes available everywhere.

  5. B P Thorburn 26/05/2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Have any of your contributors ever given a thought to the local residents? We are virtually imprisoned over the weekends by “pods” of cyclists behaving in the most dangerous way, seeming to concentrate on their front wheel hubs and neglecting to look where they are going, or on what side of the road. Mid week is a little better, but not much. Could they please consider that whilst they are out for pleasure, most of us locals in our cars (there is an almost non-existant bus service) are about our legitimate business – hospital appointments, shopping, visiting a sick relative etc. and perhaps instead of hogging the centre of the roads, move over to allow us to pass safely!
    And whilst I am at it, there is an underpass on the A24 at Burford Bridge, with a compulsery road sign , ordering Cyclists to use it, not cross two lanes of fast moving traffic to use the roundabout. I don’t want to kill you, but you must take some of the responsibility.

    • Cyclist 04/03/2012 at 8:31 pm #

      If you don’t like cyclists you’ve probably shouldn’t be living or even visiting Box Hill? Just because you have larger vehicle than a bicycle it does not mean you have a right way or have more rights to use the road.

      • Ken 15/05/2012 at 1:16 am #

        I ride about 5,000 miles a year and I agree with the locals (BP) who say that cyclists shouldn’t hog the centre of the road. I consider that kind of behaviour irresponsible and gives the rest of us – who are concerned with presenting a friendlier face to the drivers – a bad name.

  6. Balfie 01/08/2011 at 9:37 am #

    Here’s the full skinny on watching the Olympic Road race test event, August 14, 2011, with a bicycle:

    http://www.londonpreparesseries.com/roadcycling/spectator-info/index.html

    Information for spectators with bicycles

    Spectators can cycle to any part of the race route that is open to traffic but cannot cycle on the course during road closures at any time. Given likely crowd numbers along certain areas of the route, the use of a bicycle may be impractical and should be considered carefully. Restrictions will be in place around the managed spectator areas.

    To view the route map and for travel information and road closures visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/testevent

    View the estimated race schedule: http://www.londonpreparesseries.com/roadcycling/schedule/index.html

    Richmond Park: race passes through at approximately 9.15-11:55am. Cycling will not be possible along the race route in the Park from 8pm on 13 August until 9pm on 14 August. Cyclists will be required to walk in certain areas of the Park. Cycling will be possible on the Tamsin Trail, National Cycle Route 4 and from Roehampton car park to Kingston car park.

    Box Hill: restricted passes between 10.40-11.20am. The road at Box Hill will be closed from 6.30am on the day of the event, the race will enter the area at 10.35am and the road will reopen at 2pm. Spectators will be able to walk to a viewing area (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/Box_Hill_Viewing_Map.pdf)
    , but not cycle, until 9.30am from any access road and there is special provision for wristband holders.

    Although the road will remain closed, marshals will be facilitating people walking, but not cycling, on the route as soon as the race has passed through.

    Wristband holders (green and white wristbands): gates to the spectator viewing areas for wristband holders will open at 9am, with restricted movement from 9.40am. Some dedicated cycle parking will be available for wristband holders. For more information please see the printable information sheet for wristband holders (pdf 0.63MB): http://www.londonpreparesseries.com/documents/road-cycling/info-for-wristband-holders-2.pdf

  7. Hugh 27/07/2012 at 3:01 pm #

    By the way – I think your route map at the top of the page is wrong – the riders will turn left onto the Old London Road and go through Mickleham to return to the foot of the zig zag climb, not back down the A24 to the Burford Bridge roundabout as shown.

    • Kevin Dixon 04/01/2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Hi,

      I have just started road cycling 2012 & have been doing Richmond Park. Without confirming the the Olympic route before I started I turned left off the B2033 Leech Lane down Longbottom road/Headly Lane & joining Old London Road back to the bottom of Zig Zag Hill. I thought it was a quick 10.4 miles so looked at this map & on my second ride continued along the B2033 not turning down Longbottom Road & along to the A24 back to Box Hill car park.

      Now on my 3rd visit I now know to turn off the A24 at Mickleham & along Old London Road back to Zig Zag Hill.

      Kevin.

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