Those who were early to rise last Sunday morning could be forgiven for thinking we might be in for another day of wet hell for the 2017 edition of the Hills Challenge. Thankfully the early morning rain moved on and the clouds slowly parted to give all riders conditions close to perfect.
For those of you wondering why this event is no longer called the 5 Hills Challenge, it's because...
One by one, small groups of riders were released on to the roads of Beckenham to tackle the Classic or Epic routes, once they had had their customary safety briefing from Siobhan Carroll.
The first challenge for riders was the reasonable Nash Lane before dropping down to the lower part of Biggin Hill and taking on the more challenging Ricketts Hill Road to reach Tatsfield. The rolling highway of Pilgrims Way allowed some time for recovery before the route headed south to Brasted to tackle Chart Lane. 2 miles of climbing at an average gradient of 5%, maxing out at 8% and with sneaky easing off about two-thirds of the way up before ramping up again.