Posts Tagged ‘climbing’

I’ve always fancied sampling a route that the professionals are going to use and this Audax route promised just that. It followed a stage of the Tour Down Under but in typical Audax style it added a few café stops and some kilometres to make the total distance 200km. This seemed like an ideal way to sample a race without participating and without being surrounded by hundreds of other cyclists with the same ambition.

It started in a 24-hour bakery close to where the actual stage would start. Just like the professionals we made sure that our nutritional needs were taken care of before the five of us hit the road. As we set off the organiser casually mentioned that gorge road, the first climb on the route, was closed for roadworks. We decided to gamble on being able to get through.

TDU (2)

Quality nutrition

We dodged round the road closed sign and ignored all the other signs that suggested that forward progress would be impeded at some point. Instead we enjoyed the feeling of being on a car free road. This must be something like the feeling professional cyclists get all the time whilst racing. It was rather nice not having to worry about cars trying to pass in the most ridiculous of places. Our reverie was brought to a grinding halt by a large man, covered in tattoos and wearing a skull ring on every finger. He was a man with a mission and his mission was not to let anyone pass the hole in the ground. We tried to use the power of persuasion but that was a lost cause. He had orders and a complete lack of compassion. We turned around and headed down, there was another way to get us back on route but that required a bit of climbing

I had been up Montecute Road before but that was on a mountain bike with much lower gearing. It is not a momentously steep hill but it just goes on and on. The others were far better climbers than me and soon they were snaking away into the distance. I knew the road got steeper near the end and that meant I would go slower. I struggled to the turning where the others were waiting vowing to do something about my gearing. The irony of doing this climb was that we now had to lose a lot of the height gained to get back on route. This involved a descent of the aptly named Corkscrew Hill. It was one of those rather scary descents that scares the sensible and that the reckless call fun. I used my breaks a lot.

Now we were at the bottom of the hill we had to gain the height all over again by climbing up gorge road to the reservoir. Yet again the group started to lengthen as those with climbing prowess speeded up and I slogged my way up. I thought that the climbing would be over by the time I reached the reservoir but I was cruelly mistaken. The road just became more undulating. I was able to catch the group on the down hill sections only to be distanced whenever the road went skywards. I started to get the feeling that it was going to be a long day in the saddle.

TDU (1)


The first café stop came as a welcome relief, well it would have done if the café had been open, we had to carry on a little to find a temple of calories and fountain of hydration. Just like the professionals we took care of our needs, unlike the professionals our needs included a bacon and egg roll and about a litre of coke. I was amazed at how much I was drinking. It was a hot day and I’d been dripping with sweat but to go though two bottles and a litre of coke before breakfast was for me, unheard of. At least I felt ready to tackle the next park to of the route.

The route kept its undulating character but now we were in the country and surrounded with fields of ripening corn. It was all very beautiful and for a while took my mind off the many small rises that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had no idea that long steep hills could be hidden so well in the countryside. We got to the top of one where the views were spectacular, it didn’t even look like a proper hill. It just got steep without appearing to get steep. I don’t like this sort of hill.

TDU (3)

Heading for the hills

We came to a sharp corner, it housed a tree that someone had lived in one hundred years ago. Something like that is always worth stopping for. It also gave me a chance to recover slightly, finish the last of my water and have a stretch. I prayed that the next stop was as close as I though it was. It wasn’t

The next control was in a pub. The first glass of coke didn’t touch the sides. In fact, I’m sure there was some steam rising as I downed the drink. I had some crisps to slow down the flow of the next glassful. Even though I had filled by body with quality nutrition I still felt like I’d gone through the mill. I think it was here that it dawned on me that I was going to have to climb the Corkscrew in the next section. I suddenly felt rather weak.

TDU (4)

We should have stopped here, I needed a cuddle

The way to the bottom of the hill was mainly downwards with a few little lumps. That didn’t make the feeling of trepidation any better. Ive attempted the Corkscrew once before and it didn’t go well. This time I was hungry, dehydrated and tired. There is a whole world of difference between climbing when fresh and climbing with over one hundred and fifty hilly kilometres in my legs. I went as far as I could before grinding to a halt. I stood for a while gave myself a good talking to and them carried on for some meters and stopped again. I repeated this for a while before throwing in the towel and walking, there had been no cars on the road up to this point, now they came streaming passed all of them laughing at my inability to get up a hill. I tried to save face by cycling the last one hundred meters. It didn’t work

I met the others at the top of the climb. The official route took us down the hill to climb up another. There was no way that I was going to climb another hill. If I went down that road I fully intended to freewheel directly to my house and lay in a darkened room for a large number of hours. I didn’t care that it would be the first time I’d ever failed on an Audax. Luckily the others had no intention of descending and knew another route to our final control that involved less climbing.

There was still a lot of climbing and I was slowly coming to a halt on each climb. I lost count of the times I stopped to give myself a very good talking to. I was having a massive sense of humour failure due to the lack of sugar and liquid. This needed to be addressed urgently at the next stop. Two packets of crisps, two large glasses of cola and a packet of nuts later I started to feel a lot more human.

If I was a professional cyclist I would now get onto the team bus, participate in post-race interviews and probably be banned by the commissionaires for taking the wrong route. However, as I’m not I had to make my own way back to the city. It wasn’t far and it was mainly downhill. At last I could free wheel down the twisting road and admire the view over the city.

TDU (6)

Mission accomplished

This was the hardest ride I’d done in a long time and in retrospect I think I enjoyed it. It took a long time and a few bathfulls of water to recover. There is one thing that is certain. I will be glued to the television when the professionals go the same way.

TDU (5)

It took how long?

Invicta Hilly

Gracie waiting whilst I fill myself with tea

Gracie was being a little petulant today and refused to get out of the car without a struggle. I should have realised that this was a bad sign but as usual I carried on regardless. We had driven here to take part in the Invicta Hilly, the smaller version of the Invicta Grimpeur, The first long ride that Gracie and I did together. The big version consists of two loops, one clockwise and one anti clockwise. The hilly is just one anti clockwise loop. There was a lot of climbing and I remember from last time that it got quite painful by the end. The smaller version was definitely the one for me today.

It all started well, the Hilly participants were waved off at the allotted time and I made my way out the gates near the front of the pack. I was under no illusions that I would be the fastest round. That will never happen with an extra wheel on a hilly route. I was surprised how long it took for the first few to come past. I was well into the first climb before it happened. This made me happy as it suggested that the minimal amount of winter training had paid off.

The first control came at the top of Yorks Hill. I sat there for a while and contemplated the first descent. Descending on a Trike is a stressful experience at the best of times and Yorks Hill is steep and evil. The road surface was rutted and covered in mud. I decided that a screaming plummeting descent was out of the question and went for the timid cautious approach instead. It still wasn’t a pleasant experience. I got to the bottom shaken and stirred but mainly happy to be alive.

I caught up with a group of riders in front and followed them to the foot of the next hill. It turned out that I went to school with one of them. I didn’t recognise him at all but apparently I was still the same, something that I doubt. Catching up and chatting took the sting out of the next hill, we even passed someone who was attempting the ride on a Moulton.

We reached the top of the next descent. This was a lot more benign than the last one. It was on a wide road with a good surface and no bends. This was a good road to drop down with childish glee. I assumed the position and let the plummet commence. Then the wobbles started. Little wobbles at first but rapidly escalating into violet throwing off the Trike type wobbles. The whole of the front of the trike was vibrating wildly. I tried pulling hard on the brakes but that only made the whole thing worse. I started fearing becoming part of the road surface in a sudden and violent way. I brought Gracie back into the fold with a combination of brute force and intermittent braking. I pulled into a layby and cursed loudly. I’d been on the margin between upright and road surface; that is quite frightening.

Climbing the next hill I noticed that the quick release on the front wheel had come loose. I’ve no idea if the wobble had caused it or it had caused the wobble but I was willing to bet that it hadn’t helped the situation. Maybe that was why Gracie was being so petulant this morning. She was obviously offended that I’d not given her the attention she deserved.

Box Hill

Posted: July 15, 2016 in Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , , ,

box 2

I’m not a climber, I’m not built for climbing and Gracie the Trike is not a mountain goat. Despite all of this we have struggled up a lot of climbs in the Surrey Hills. I rode some out of necessity, some because they had a name and some just to say that we had. Going uphill on a bike is not an enjoyable experience but having suffered a climb and survived is a retrospective pleasure. It’s because of this that the club run to Box Hill appealed. We’d not been up the climb before, it was meant to be a classic and there was a National Trust café at the top. The last point was the major draw, cake after hard work is always welcome.

It wasn’t a promising day. It wasn’t exactly raining; the dampness could be described as low cloud or drizzle. It just hung in the air and waited for you to pass though it to get you wet. It was very lazy rain. We all met up at the sports centre and sometime later headed out into the wilds of Surrey. Others on the run took great delight in drafting behind me. As a big person on a trike I blocked out a lot of the wind. I was not familiar with the roads to Box Hill, I usually cycle in a different direction when I’m out and about. It was nice to follow the herd and not think about directions. I could keep up with everyone on the flat but the moment the road headed slightly upwards I shot backwards and shot out the back of the pack. This didn’t bode well.

The last time I visited Box Hill it was to watch the Olympic road race. I’d not really noticed anything to do with the gradient apart from the fact that there were some of the best cyclists in the world speeding up them. I’d always assumed that it was steep. I turned onto the climb, selected a suitable gear and started peddling. I assumed that it would get steeper somewhere along the way. I worked my way up through the trees and around the zig-zags. The gradient was constant but not steep. It reminded me of one or two of the alpine passes I’ve traveled up. Every now and again a group of cyclists would push on past. This was a very popular hill.

box 3


I broke onto the sunlight and recognised the field to the left as the one I stood in cheering a few years ago. I thin whippet like cyclist dressed in skin tight matching Lycra and riding a lightweight carbon machine came sailing past me. I glanced sideways and Gracie and uttered “nice one” before disappearing up the road.

The car park signaled the end of the climb and the start of the cake. The queue was long but the massive slice of Victoria sponge made it worthwhile. Now there was just the question of riding home on tired legs.

box 1



Gracie and friends, Eager to start

A ride in February is always going to be at the mercy of the weather. The forecast was not promising but sometimes the reality is different. The forecast had mentioned rain. It wasn’t raining at the start and this was a bonus. It wasn’t freezing either. I did this ride once in sub-zero conditions and people were complaining about their water bottles freezing. Today was relatively benign by those standards.

We met up for tea and biscuits in the hall before the ride. It was a chance to catch up with a few people and see how many were doing the ride. I was told that nearly 100 had entered so there will be no lack of company out on the road. I’d come along on Grace the Trike, as I’ve not taken Gracie on this ride before. I am slowly becoming aware that more people recognise Gracie than me; it was how Mark knew I was there. Mark and I have trundled around a few Audaxs over the years, so we are used to each other company.

The start was heralded by the beeping of Garmins and Satnavs. We headed off into the lanes of West Sussex. I watched the fast boys disappear up the road and settled down to my usual pace. A few minutes later Mark had caught me up and the banter began. He was riding fixed I was riding a trike, we soon realised that we were probably the epitome of everything Audax. We should have been wearing tweeds and plus fours to round off the look.

Up ahead the lights started flashing for a level crossing, a group had stopped and another was slowing. Just before the train arrived one of their tyres burst dramatically. There was a small explosion and a cloud of dust was ejected from the tyre. Everyone at the crossing was looking suitably shocked and impressed at the same time. This started the theme of the day, passing people repairing punctures. It must have been something to do with the roads.

Mark is an engineer. He works on big machines. He has a very large tool box and an impressive collection of tools. Most of his tools have been found on the roadside. He seems to have the tool spotting gift. One moment he’ll be beside me chatting away, and then he’ll suddenly stop, saying that he’ll catch up. A few minutes later he’ll return with a big smile on his face and some sort of double handed flexi widget extractor sitting in his saddlebag. I never see tools, I have no idea how he does this.

There is one big hill on this route. It coincided with the point when the sleet started to come down. As an incentive there was a control at the very top that was rumoured to be handing out hot tea and cake. It was a reasonably steep hill but Gracie and I had tackled steeper. It was a case of slipping into a low gear and grinding a way up whilst looking enviously at the lighter riders and machines going past. I don’t relish climbing hills like some people; they are just another obstacle to overcome. I was quite happy with the yell of “chapeau!” from the lightly tanned racing whippet on his finely tuned road bike. It made me feel like a real cyclist. The hill seemed to go on for ever and manoeuvres of the odd car on this narrow road to get round the cyclists were amusing. The freezing rain and sleet however wasn’t. The sight of the control and hot drinks was a sight to behold. It was a shame that the tea was tepid.

Now we had got to the top we had to get down again. I’m not sure which is worse, descending on a fixed wheel or descending on a Trike. Either way, both machines can make life pretty uncomfortable for the rider when descending at speed down a narrow, twisty and wet road at speed. The sleet just added to the discomfort. By the time I reached the bottom I could categorically say that my gloves were not waterproof. My feet had been replaced with blocks of ice and I couldn’t feel my hands. It took a long time to get back to normal operating temperature. A least the rain and sleet stopped, this made the ride marginally more pleasant.

There was a gentle climb to the next control. I ambled up in in my usual fashion but I did notice that I was passed by one or two people who had a look of grim determination. We had reached that point in a ride where the end is almost in sight but just a little too far away. I suspect that the grim ones were thinking that if a Trike could do it so could they (this was confirmed in a conversation at the end).

From here it was plain sailing on familiar roads to the finish. Mark and I made light work of the final 15km. we knew it was nearly over and that we had plenty of time. What’s more we knew that there was a big bowl of hot soup and a mountain of cake waiting for us. This made the whole endeavour so much more pleasant.



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.


The route NEVER went downhill

Petworth 3

The Beast in Audax Trim, waiting outside whilst I stuff my face

It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the Trike; running, illness and other commitments have conspired against me. After the frenzy of axle repair and the quick proving ride the Beast has been sitting in the shed a little forlorn. He needed to get out; I needed to ride the Beast and the time for the Beast to go back to his rightful owner was getting ever closer. I wanted to be sure that everything was working.  I also wanted feel the difference between 1 wheel drive and two wheel drive on a long ride.

It didn’t start well; I managed to misread the start time. Instead of arriving in time for a chat and a cup of tea, I arrived as everyone was leaving and the tea was being packed away. I still had to assemble the Beast but at least I wasn’t the last one to leave the car park.

I’ve done this event before, which means I had a vague idea of the route. The whole thing is centred on Petworth and is made up of 3 roughly equal loops. Each loop ends at a community hall were the organisers ensure that no one is hungry. It’s the type of event that you could gain weight on, I like that kind of event.

Once underway I felt that the Beast was flying. There is a world of difference having the power through both back wheels. It felt smoother with none of the subtle veering characteristic of riding Gracie. The first information control was about 10km into the first loop. I remember that I’d made a mess of finding the answer last year (the info control questions are usually answered by an obvious feature, like a road sign or large building). The route sheet specifically said not to take the small shortcut before the junction, so I thought the question must relate to something around here. I lingered a while and was joined by another group on the event. We collectively decided that something was wrong and decided to move on. I’m not sure that the group were prepared to be overtaken by a Trike. The info control was a large and obvious sign a mile up the road, exactly as the route sheet described.

Hungry riders trying and failing to eat all the goodies on offer

Hungry riders trying and failing to eat all the goodies on offer

Some people remember the answers to the info controls and write them in the Brevet card at the end, I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to such details so have to write them down as I see them. The great thing about a Trike is that there is no need to do all that ungainly unclipping. I could just sit there and scribble the answers. Whilst sitting there a group of three cyclists on a Sunday ride came past, passing a few comments about the Beast. They got a second chance to admire it as I sped past.

The way back to the hall was lumpy. I don’t usually look forward to hills, in fact I’ve often thought that I should have been born in the Netherlands, but today was different. I had a suspicion that this was where I’d feel the biggest difference between Gracie and the Beast. I was not wrong. In low gears Gracie’s front wheel starts skittering across the road, the Beast held his line. It made going up a little more comfortable. I liked this.

After a quick stop at the hall for cooked things, cake and tea I was off again. The weather was looking decidedly grey and I really didn’t want the hang around. I was also convinced despite evidence to the contrary that I was the slowest there. I had a feeling that most of the others in the hall would be overtaking me at some time during the next loop. There was a steep hill within the first few miles, I slipped the Beast into a low gear and wound my way slowly up all the while being overtaken by lighter and more nimble two wheeled machines. We passed a café near the top, someone shouted over, “Is that harder or easier”, “Harder” I gasped, as if it wasn’t obvious. The brow of the hill was a delight, the descent even better, despite the persistent drizzle.

The rest of the route took us on some lovely roads though autumnal forests. It was the sort of terrain that makes me glad I made the effort to get out, rather than take the easy option of a day on the sofa. At one point I surprised a deer that was forcing its way through a hedge and onto the road. I was rather glad that it turned and fled across the field. I didn’t really want to be rammed by a wild deer.

More edibles: will this torture never end?

More edibles: will this torture never end?

The talk at the control, over beans on toast and steaming mugs of tea, was about the hill. Even though I’d done this event before I really couldn’t recall it. I was as if it had been erased from my memory. Others were talking about steepness and sharpness. I offered a few bland comments but the details didn’t come. Not until a few turns before, then the details came back with a vengeance. There was an info control halfway up so there was no option to take the longer way round. The hill started off gently and slowly increased in gradient. I stopped at the control and my legs complained by cramping. It was a short and acute pain that brought tears to my eyes. By the time I’d recovered I was surrounded by others making a note of the info and using the control as an excuse for a breather before the steep part. This would be the real test, a steep hill, slightly greasy from the recent drizzle and covered in patches of leaf mulch. Gracie would not have been happy with this. I started the ascent; low gears; pushing hard on the peddles. A few bikes came past at speed but most were grinding it out. Ahead someone gave up the struggle and started walking. I was still going. Close to the top the road surface worsened, the patches of leaf mulch got larger. I was so close; and then I lost traction. Sliding backwards on the Beast was not a nice feeling; I may have uttered a few uncouth words, loudly.

The prize for attempting the hill was a long descent at speed and a nice run in to the hall for rice pudding, peaches, cake, more cake and tea. Finally after all the trials and tribulations of tricycle repair I’d managed to get a decent ride out on the Beast and I loved it.


Loitering cyclists, attracted to the tea and biscuits

I spent a big chunk of Saturday being Bicycle Repairman. There is no superhero cape and mask that goes with the title, you just end up with a stable of working bikes and a small pile of bits that are surplus to requirements. During this period of frenzied activity I managed to replace the break levers and gear changers, set up the gears, fit new brake blocks, repair punctures and effect a temporary repair in the front tyre of my road bike; replace the aging tyres with shiny new red ones and fit a new saddle on Gracie the trike; sort out a few issues on the fixer and clean the mountain bike. All this activity left me with a dilemma; which bike should I take on the Hilly hell of the Hills ride? In the end I decided that it was probably time that I climbed back onto two wheels, so I left Gracie at home and headed down south for a little bit of climbing.


Butts Brow, a car park at the top of a hill, full of cyclists

I may have mentioned this before, many times, I’m not that keen on cycling up hills. I don’t have the light frame and lack of fat that climbers are made of, I can climb, I just do it very, very slowly. The day I overtake someone on a climb will be the day I buy everyone in the pub a beer. The first climb came quickly, there was no chance to warm up before leaping into the heaving and sweaty climb of Butts Brow. This is an evil climb to a car park that gives wonderful views over the downs. Admiring the view I have found is a euphemism for “getting your breath back”. A lot of people where thankful for the breather whilst waiting for the controller to stamp the cards.

An assent up a no through road means that you are rewarded with a lightening descent. At this point I was rather glad that I had fitted the new brake blocks. I’m getting a lot more wary of going downhill at speed after riding a Trike.

The route to the next climb took us through sleepy Sussex villages which were basking in the warm spring sunshine. This was almost chocolate box territory but I had other things on my mind: Gear changers. The Trike has levers on the down tube, I’ve been been riding the trike a lot recently so every time I wanted to change gear I made for the changer on the down tube that wasn’t there. The old changers on the road bike had a thumb lever, this was the next port of call before finding the correct lever. This made changing gear more of an interpretive modern dance than the slick and seamless manoeuvre that it should have been. At least it kept me amused until the next climb.

The climb to Firle beacon was yet another slog up a no through road to a small but scenic car park. Again I watched enviously as the riders ahead of me seemed to effortlessly pull away. I really can’t work out how they do that. I’ve got lots of gears, I just can’t make my legs go round at the speed of a washing machine on the spin cycle. Just at the gradient eased off and with the promise of it getting easier the wind hit me. That slowed the last sprint to the summit to something of a wobble. It helped on the descent though.


Firle Beacon, A car park at the top of a hill, only one or two cyclists

Dave “EL Supremo” Hudson’s roadside Audax catering is legendary. If he is doing the catering it is almost guaranteed that you will leave the event heavier than when you started. This is a good thing. This man is responsible for more satisfied cyclists in the south east than anything else. The next control didn’t disappoint, Dave was there with the full roadside buffet range. I may have lingered a little too long, but as Dave says: “If you can’t decide which to have, take one of each”. Sound advice Dave.


Dave Hudson, purveyor of fine roadside catering for hungry cyclists

Wobbling slightly we headed over to BoPeep and another climb up a no through road to a windy car park on the top of the downs. This is why I like this ride, it takes me up roads that I wouldn’t normally ride up, mainly because they don’t do anywhere. It’s nice to have a reason to do a pointless ride up a hill.


BoPeep, a car park at the top of a hill, seldom visited by cyclists

Halfway up High and over my legs started to feel that they had done enough climbing for the day, they needed a bit of a talking to and a cheese sandwich at the top just to persuade them to carry on to the next hill. At the top in Jevington the route planner play with your mind by sending you down a lovely country lane. It was a lovely descent of many miles, it would have been better if I hadn’t remembered that when I got to the bottom I would have to turn round and return to Jevington by the same route. Suddenly the lovely descent was a climb in hiding. It was enough to take the enjoyment out of freewheeling.


Beachy Head, a car park at the top of a hill, often visited by people with suicidal tendencies

The last climb of the day was the iconic Beachy Head. I know that in the popular imagination Beachy Head is a magnet for suicide attempts but I’d always taken that with a pinch of salt. It was quite a surprise to pass a land rover emblazoned with “the Beachy Head Chaplaincy team” and a little higher up signs giving the Samaritans number. There was very little chance of me jumping when I got to the top as I knew that after this last climb Dave was waiting in Polegate with another massive feed, just to make sure that I didn’t go hungry.


CAKE! if you can’t decide which one to have, take one of each