A Sussex DIY 200km

Martin Malins writes…

A bit of background; as well as organised events Audax UK also validates permanent rides where you can organise your own route; have the distance validated and then ride it whenever you have a free day and the right weather; I entered this ride in the winter but happily was able to wait until this weekend to ride it;

I entered this ride as a fallback for failing to complete any of the El Supremo (Dave Hudson) events over the winter; but in the end had the DIY card left over so decided to ride it next Wed; Not!
With the car going in for a service and other gubbins I got a special permit to ride it today. It was to be my first solo 200 although at the last minute Paul Stewart joined me and he was a welcome addition.
The controls came from the Midlands Mesh (a big map of the UK with a sreies of towns and minimum distances between them ) whereby I could contrive a 210km loop from Lingfield; much of the route was kindly supplied by Jack Williams.

I met Paul at 0730 and before long we were breezing along empty lanes through Newdigate and Ewhurst to Cranleigh (first garage control). Leith Hill tower was observed from a safe and flat distance. Thereafter mostly a reverse of the Coastal Canter to Wiston tea rooms and gardens (5 stars for flapjack and cappucino). A quick cashpoint moment in Steyning before the long and lovely 40k underhill lane section under the South Downs all the way to Lewes (during which we stopped to help give a SDW MTB rider directions to get back Up Top; anything to help a fellow rider; and Paul decided to visit Clayton windmills on top of the downs rather than the village!) for some Harveys all of 100m from the brewery. Jack’s route avoided Lewes but with the ride likely to be at least 10km over distance we plumped for the A27; truly horrible and very busy.

A stop at the wine centre in Alfriston for another proof of passage and we joined the outward leg of the Hailsham 200 to the Ninfield control. As I was waiting for Paul one of the local boys – about 11- challenged us to a race to his house (he won on a full susser Halfords job) and also informed me that he had a gun and shot birds with it (I was suitably impressed). From this point I had to make up my own route sheet so was given free reign to use the quietest lanes up to Heathfield. The Mad Jack Fuller route was joined and after a benign section left on the way to Dallington. Heathfield was shut save for a cashpoint so we used the extortionate garage at Cross in Hand.

Then more lovely lanes to Hadlow Down (Paul sailed on having missed the turn and by chance found a different School Lane to that on my route sheet which took him to Buxted instead where; by the wonders of telephony, I was able to direct him back on route). Anyone who knows the A272 east of Buxted will know that on a fixed this is Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

We touched (but did not use) the Mid Sussex Hilly route at Burnt Oak which pretty much infected the rest of the ride. The climb to Crowborough (on the original MSH route) was beastly but rewarded by a fantastic descent back via Ladies Mile to Hartfield where Paul’s chain fell off. I was in the doghouse at this point as my wonderful route was at odds to Paul’s GPS by +2km. Another laney detour before more horrible A264 and soon the very last climb of the day for a lovely downhill all the way back to Lingfield for more Harveys. But it wasn’t over; I had to return to East Grinstead via Baldwin’s Hill (whoever Baldwin is I want to give him a slap!). But overall a great ride on another lovely sunny day, the first 200 I’ve ridden from my own house, and also my first ride on Paul’s ex- bitser which acquitted itself admirably. And met and greet riders of every shape size and speed out today.