June 2020 Segment of the Month

June’s arrival brings with it the advent of some expected good riding weather and also introduces this year’s ‘Queen’ stage for our VCV segment of the month challenge.

The Queen stage for this year’s challenge will be the longest and most demanding the competition has to offer in 2020. Set along just-over four and a half miles of what must be considered one of our local ‘iconic’ routes, this segment has been frequently ridden and hotly contested over the years, offering a true test of your overall fitness.

As properly befits the Queen stage of our challenge, double points are on offer this month, so be sure to make your best effort count.

Perhaps principally suited to the fast climbers amongst us, this month’s segment also offers ample opportunity for those of you who have the enviable all-round abilities of a ‘Rouleur’.

The segment begins a few feet into the initial hill section of Hayden Lane, as you leave the village of Warnford behind you. This first section is steep, rising to 15% in places and you will need to carefully temper your initial effort to avoid blowing up before the challenge has properly started.

Cresting the first rise brings welcome relief as the road pitches down and then takes a quick left-right twist, crossing the old disused Meon Line railway. Be extra vigilant for any oncoming traffic at this point.

The main climb then begins with an initial short ramp followed by a progressive and not too steep push up towards the point where Hayden Lane is met by Old Winchester Hill Lane on your left. Pacing this section effectively will be an important part of any successful attempt, needing to be hard enough to set a good tempo, but measured enough to leave sufficient in the tank for the remaining road ahead.

Take advantage of a brief respite, as you press on along the false flat that takes you across the ridge of Old Winch hill, before another shorter climb, thankfully with less gradient, that leads to your exit from the wooded section. You then push on over the final peak that marks the approximate halfway point in distance, with over 70% of the climbing now behind you.

The second half of this Queen stage brings with it more rolling terrain, and requires a different approach to power, as you take the initial downhill to recover and then aim to build speed and momentum, before facing a short and fairly gentle ramp that rolls on into the long and undulating road ahead. Midway you will pass the triangle junction with Coombe hill dropping to your left and the road over to Chidden and Stoke Wood on your right.

At this point the lactate will be building nicely, as you join the Droxford road, carrying on ahead up another gentle ramp, then following the much-needed descent that curves to your left just before the final section.

You must build all the speed you can to help carry you up the final ascent that is steeper than it looks, with the view of the Meon Valley to your left, as you then enter the wooded area with farm buildings on both sides.

This point signposts the last few hundred meters of the segment and the relatively flat final section will no doubt require an out of the saddle sprint effort to take you to the finish line, which is marked by the small layby on your left, just at the start of the downhill that will eventually take you to the junction with the East Meon road.

If any rider can win this Queen stage segment, and in doing so take the KoM or QoM, they will be a worthy winner indeed.

Although there are some welcome signs that the Lockdown is easing, please remember to adhere to whatever the prevailing rules are around social distancing and responsible riding.

The link to the segment is here: https://www.strava.com/segments/24232271

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