Martin Malins writes…
Just got back from the 150; a repeat of my first ever Audax in 2001 (I’ve since done the 200 Sporting twice) and a Grimpeur du Sod if ever there was one. Not as hot as last year’s 200 but every bit as tough, especially as I had dug the Trek out for the occasion. After the start I was soon in a bunch of mostly Addiscombe and GB cycles riders who all looked like they were training for some sort of Marmotte / Etape / BritCyclo. After the long drag out of Warlingham we crossed the 200 Grimpeur riders on their way out of the Chalkpit Lane section (rather them than me; there’s kudos and there’s life) before diving down over Clacket Lane services and a very undulating section, crossing both the A25 and A264 before arriving at the Hartfield control at the Hay Waggon pub.
Not only were we 30 minutes early but they had forgotten we were coming (the ride having been put forward a month to avoid clashing with the BritCyclo which used some of the route in reverse) so I was joined in the shop; where I decided to do a DIY receipt control, by the pub staff buying a shed load of cake. But soon the stickers appeared in the pub so armed with one in my brevet card I headed out to Ladies Mile where Tim the organiser was collecting photos for the next Arrivee.
I’m not sure how many club riders have ever deviated off our hilly 13 course down Motts Mill but… dont!
A real shock awaits just round the corner; every bit as steep as Cob Lane if not as long. And soon after it settles into classic East Sussex undulations through Rotherfield, Mayfield and out towards Witherenden Hill. By now riding alone I joined the ESCA RT and Mad Jack route about 5km before Willingford Lane (which I did for only the second time without my triple chainset – ouch!). Before long (ok I lied a bit there) we were past El Supremo’s deserted feed station near Brightling before the long plunge down then slog up to Netherfield and soon after I arrived at Cafe Belge in Battle, which has to be the least value cafe ever (almost £7 for a pint of lemonade and a small bowl of chips).
The first 200 Grimpeur riders arrived just before I left and the return out of Battle was a meet and greet of the rest of the field on their way to Battle before I turned off towards Burwash. I made use of the One Stop in Wadhurst after my less than satisfying Battle lunch to be greeted by “get a car” from a bunch of pissed up lagerboys outside the pub; I retorted “get a life”. Kent is strange.
The approach to Frant was less “up” than El Supremo’s events and soon I was plunging down to the lovely wooded lanes to Langton Green which stopped being lovely about 1 grinding km before crossing by the pub. Dominic’s football tournament was in full swing (I wangled a day pass for this ride after he fractured his wrist a couple of weeks ago so was out of the footy). A fairly benign next section to the cafe control at Penshurst (the Fir Tree not Strangeways) which had its own outside counter provided for us; an altogether much nicer and better value place than Cafe Belch. I was advised that I was the 5th rider to arrive there. With just 28km to go The End was Nigh.
A wiggle through Chiddingstone Causeway and up Ide Hill (where I feared being captured on film again by Tim whilst dripping with sweat) was rewarded by the tremendous descent back to Brasted for the last info control. A long drag under the M25 back onto the Pilgrim’s way and then just Botley Hill left; not steep but long and not nice, before the “last 5km all downhill”. It’s actually only downhill for the last 2 but it certainly made a pleasant change from brutally up. Arrived back in a little under 8 hours to an empty hall with a lovley spread laid on by Sabine and Tim’s wife; I only had time for a quick roll and glass of squash before rolling back down the hill to get my train. I also learnt that Tim was a DNF (in time) on the Beast from the East 600 so he is looking for another ride.