One of the most famous rides in London cycling history returned to the sporting calendar today.
In 1925, Balham CC held a ride that took in some of the most challenging terrain on the North Downs – in modern parlance a cyclo-cross event. A year later the Balham Rough Stuff was born. By the 1930s it had become one of the most prestigious races on the national calendar, attracting some the biggest names in cycling.
Using old race reports and the recollections of those on the scene when it met its demise in 1960, we pieced together a route and today rode it once again.
A self-guided ride rather than the Time Trial of old it was often ridden in the biting cold, rain and sometimes snow. Today’s riders were treated to glorious sunshine with just a chill in the air. We’ll take that in November!
The ride was hilly with 2,384 feet of elevation packed in to the 28 miles and had some sharp twists and turns. In its pomp much was off-road or on gravel. In 2017 most of it was tarmacked but there was still one small off-road section which was steep, challenging, muddy and rocky in places.
We also created a 21st century version sticking to tarmac and avoiding the Bridleway section for those who thought best to avoid it!
After the ride members took refreshment at Farleigh Golf Club near the start/finish line. Members shared their own bakes and we’re pleased to say competition for best bake was fierce. BCC Cyclists know how to make cake!
A great time was had by all and we’re planning to keep The Balham Rough Stuff as a yearly event.
You can read about the history of the Balham Rough Stuff here
You can see the routes here:
New (all road version)
You are welcome to try them but at your own risk
Note: The Balham Rough Stuff route changed about 3 times in its lifetime although not significantly. Some of the roads have also changed and not just the surface. One road is now a one way road going the wrong way for instance! Against this backdrop the route we used is best described as a ‘safe approximation’ of that ridden between 1925 and 1960.