Anna Cipullo tackles Hackpen Hill on the White Horse Challenge
Anna Cipullo tackles Hackpen Hill on the White Horse Challenge

Riding The White Horse Challenge

The White Horse Challenge is indeed a challenge with only one route on offer - 90 miles through undulating Wiltshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire countryside - but what a ride it is!

The route chooses roads with minimal traffic through beautiful English countryside and takes in four historic chalk white horses in Uffington, Broadtown, Cherhill and Hackpen. Uffington’s White Horse is the oldest of all British chalk figures and dates back almost 3,000 years.

The event staggers groups and individuals as and when they are ready to leave, to avoid too much congestion on the roads, but there was barely any traffic to hold up anyway. This created a very relaxed feel to the start of the event - groups formed naturally, allowing me to follow the crowd for a bit of social distraction and shelter from the wind behind some willing gentlemen.

With around 300 entries and growing, the event offers plenty of groups with differing skill levels, meaning that if you find yourself in a group that’s cycling too fast, you can simply slip off the back and get swept up by a new one in a short time.

Beauty aside, the event is very slick and well organised. The route is sufficiently marked with large yellow signs and each rider is given a timing chip to record how well they did over the whole route.

You are given a gold, silver or bronze rating depending on your time, but the race and results are not published in order of finishing times. There are additional timing mats at the bottom and top of the final hill to give an incentive to challenge yourself one last time before the finish line.

All manner of abilities turn up to tackle the challenge, and many riders attempt to raise money for the well-deserved charity, Water Aid. Whatever your motivation or ability,, with a little training beforehand, this is one event that shouldn’t be missed.

The route is stunning and it brings in a fantastic crowd.