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.
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.
From there you meander your way up the hill. Be aware of other cyclists as you do this.
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.
At the top of the hill you can take in the views.
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.
The next few sections offer some serious speed although don’t forget the road isn’t closed to just cyclists yet.
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!
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.
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.