A Loop Round the Forest

Posted: July 23, 2015 in Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , ,

I like the concept of DIY Audax rides. It gives me a reason to go out on a ride and to go a bit further that I normally would, if left to my own devices. I have a little collection of routes and order up a selection of Brevet cards at the beginning of the year, then when the mood takes me I riffle though the cards, select a ride and zoom off. Most of my routes range between 100 and 150km as I find that a comfortable distance to attempt with very little planning (i.e. getting up, seeing that it’s going to be a nice day and fancying a ride).

I’ve not been far on Gracie the Trike recently so I felt that today was high time to take on my large loop (avoiding steep hills) around the Ashdown forest. I’ve done this loop many times but never on Gracie. Depending on my state of mind it’s either a nice jaunt or an unpleasant slog. I was not sure what today was going to be.

Gracie bit me! I was going round a sharp corner and leant too far. My leg make contact with a back wheel and came of worse in the altercation. The scrape mark of my leg was sore and reminded me very vividly that I was on a tricycle, not a bicycle.

She bit me!

Trike bite mark

The slopes seemed steeper today, maybe it was the weather. The first major obstacle was the short sharp hill at Motts Mill. I’ve been up here many times on a bicycle and know the form, down the long descent, change down new the white fence, left hand bend, hit the slope, peddle like fury until the gradient slaps me in the face, push as hard as I can when the momentum has gone and struggle to the top. If all goes well grin like a maniac if it doesn’t get off and push hoping that no one notices the failure. It’s a great hill to sandbag people on. I may know the form on the bike but on the trike it’s a different matter. Going downhill on the Trike is not as carefree as I would like and involves a lot of braking to keep things in check. The low gear is low and I was in it by the white fence; there were a few moments when it all seemed possible, and then I hit the slope. I struggled halfway up but it wasn’t going to happen. The front wheel skittered across the road and I lost traction on the back wheels. All was lost; I was going to have to push.

Motts mill

A hideous hill hiding in a leafy lane

After that little debacle the rolling hills went on rolling and I kept having the nagging feeling that I was not climbing as well as I could be. I was also slightly nonplussed by the fact that I didn’t recall quite so many hills the last time I went this way. It was all very worrying. The first stop for a fizzy drink couldn’t come fast enough.

Once I’d devoured two pastries, downed a fizzy drink and stuffed the all-important receipt into a bag it was time to tackle the next section. I’d not noticed the wind till this point, but now, as I changed direction it became apparent that it was a little windy. It didn’t matter to start with as there was a long flat (well slightly downhill) section. I could almost convince myself that I was batting along at a reasonable pace without any assistance from the gradient, but that was only self-delusion.

I find going down hills on Gracie rather stressful. I have the feeling that the moment my concentration breaks something messy will happen that will involve me doing a tiger skin rug impression at the side of the road. It takes all the pleasure out of descents but the sense of relief at having survived another descent is almost palpable. I saw a club mate coming the other way after one of these little descents, he must have thought I’d enjoyed it, the look he saw was relief.

I’ve done this route many times, straight across at the cross roads and then second left to bring me to the next village. I’ve no idea why this time I turned right at the cross roads. I didn’t even realise my mistake until I saw an unfamiliar church come into view. I had to ask a pedestrian the quickest way as I had no intention of going back the way I came. They gave me a really funny look before pointing me in the right direction.

The last hurdle before the next stop was a couple of sharp climbs by the reservoir. I hammered down the first slope, passing two cyclists, hoping for a bit of momentum to take me up the other side. There wasn’t enough so there was nothing for it but to struggle up in the low gears. It was almost inevitable that the cyclist would pass me, he seemed a bit put out to be over taken by a Trike.

The last few miles were dominated by one thought: I need an ice cream. I couldn’t think of a better was to finish the ride. Owning to a quirk of pricing and the availability of a multi pack I ended up buying four. They were all very tasty.

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