Hills and Mills

Posted: February 6, 2016 in Audax, Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
HandM1

A tour of the muddy lanes of Sussex

It’s been a while since I’ve been out on Gracie the Trike. Whilst I’ve been off on my travels over Christmas she has been sitting in the shed, clean, shiny and ready for new adventures. I’ve done this ride a few times but never on Gracie, it seemed time to fix that minor oversight.

A ride in January is always going to depend on the weather, despite the rain and cold of the previous week, it was clear but cold on the day. We mentioned this a lot at the start along with views of various forecasts which claimed we were either going to be soaked or sunburnt by the end. The usual faces were among the hoard partaking of tea and goodies at the start. We exchanged pleasantries before getting started on the ride that never seems to go downhill.

I like to have my moment in the front, this is only possible near the start and on the flat before the fast ones sort themselves out and disappear up the road. I take great delight in powering Gracie past all the groups and on to the front of the pack. I like to think that it reminds two wheelers that Trikes aren’t necessarily slow. It all goes wrong on the first climb where I’m reduced to the speed of a sick snail but until that point there is always a big grin on my face.

After a while the pace settled down and I teamed up with Mark for the first section of the ride to Mayfield. At times it felt like the tour of all the mud strewn roads of Sussex. The recent rains had washed muck all over the roads. In places in was hard to tell the difference between a river and the road. It was all character building stuff but I was starting to think that I had enough character building for one day. Mark and I pressed on to the warm oasis that was the first control. It was a small café rammed full of cyclists, I pitied the small group of non-cyclists that sat in the corner. I wouldn’t have liked my quiet Saturday morning coffee interrupted by a mass of Lycra clad cyclists intent on hot drinks and cake.

Hills Mills 3

An oasis of cake and hot chocolate in Mayfield

The next section took in the Ashdown forest and as it’s centre piece, Kitts Hill, locally known as “the wall”. First of all we had to brave a photographer. He was stood at the top of a significant rise. I assume he was there so that we didn’t appear as blurs. The usual dilemma ensued, do I want a photo of me grinning like a lunatic and waving at the camera? This would give the impression that this was a frivolous ride. Alternatively I could go for the serious cyclist pose of grinding it out up the hill. In the end he got the “I’m trying to make it look like I’m not suffering pose”. At least he gave me a little push to help me on my way.

I’ve been up the wall on Gracie once before. I knew the form. Slow and steady was the only way that I can do it. Slow and steady in the lowest gear, trying to ignore the fact that everyone on two wheels was inching past me. I’d like to say that my lack of hill climbing ability is due to the extra wheel and added weight of  my machine. It’s not, I do exactly the same on two wheels. It comes down to my lack of power to get my bulk up a hill. I’d like to think that I’m more of a sprinter than a climber but I can’t sprint very well either.

I love the top of the forest. Trundling along the road, admiring the views and knowing that every route away from here is down is a fantastic feeling. This might be why I overshot the turn. I could blame it on the route being modified since the last time I rode it but in truth I was day dreaming. I careered off the forest with the combination of fear and thrill that only a tricyclist going fast downhill knows to find the reason for the route change. Another hill to struggle up. The uphill on this ride was starting to get silly. This hill came with a photographer as well, so I had to go though the whole deciding which pose to adopt dilemma again. At least he gave me a cheery “go on Trikie” as I passed.

Eventually I got back to the Café in Mayfield. The cold was warded off with a hot chocolate, a large muffin and some banter with the organisers. It seems that I’m becoming know in the local cycling circles as “the barrow man”. It’ll confuse them when I set out on two wheels again!

Hills Mills 2

Gracie waiting patiently outside the cafe whilst I stock up on muffins

The last section of the ride hit the “Sod this for a game of soldiers” point. It usually happens to me near the end when there are more miles than enthusiasm. It usually lifts when I’m within a few miles of the end, when the prospect of not cycling any further outweighs the distance I’ve already travelled. Today was no exception.

The large hot chocolate and tiffin slice in the café at the end of the ride rounded off the day nicely.

HandM3

The route NEVER went downhill

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