Martin Malins writes…
A traditional Sunday in November saw my 6th ESCA reliability trial. When I first joined the club these events all took place from East Hoathly under the auspices of Charles Robson of Eastbourne Rovers, but Charles’ last event (a classic which took in Cob Lane albeit the easy way) last ran in 2000. Since then they have run over various other courses and organised by other clubs including EGCC in 2005.
The idea is simple; a 45-50 mile course that you must complete in a chosen time of between about 3 1/4 and 4 1/4 hours depending on your chosen time band. But they are always held over fairly hilly terrain; more than one puncture or wrong turning and you can easily run out of time.
This year the event was run by Worthing Excelsior (one time winners of the event as the club with the most finishers) and was back to it’s traditional East Hoathly start.
Ben, Paul W, Paul H, Rob, Richard W and myself all went for the 3 3/4 hour time which we we thought would give us enough time for a cuppa half way round;
Steve D went for the 3 1/2.
We started on the lumpy and cold lanes out towards Rotherfield. The first control presented no navigational problems for us but we met several riders at Hadlow Down who had missed it (probably due to taking the wrong turn at Blackboys). It continued lumpy out to Wadhurst where we were the first riders to arrive at the second control a couple of miles down the road.
Charles looked on approvingly at each control which were manned by various East Sussex club riders. Witherenden Hill was a bit of a sod (and now firmly in my familiar Audax country) and it carried on in a similar fashion until we were back on the A265 at Burwash, where we had a pause for Paul W to mend a puncture (teamwork with the tube, offending thorn and pump saw this completed in double quick time).
Then it all went decidedly up as we hit the hilly highlight of the day, Willingford Lane. It was my 4th time up this year and although 3 Audaxes and La Marmotte have made it a lot easier since Mad Jack Fuller back in February it was still very tough; with a couple of false summits thrown in too. From the top we forewent the marvellous view in favour of a fast descent to Woods Corner, where we made the first navigational cock-up.
Whilst the others retraced to the Bodle Street turning a mile or so back I decided to carry on South. I was aiming for Windmill Hill and after encountering some more of the Mad Jack route found a signpost which eventually put me back on route. I met the main field of mostly Eastbourne and Horsham riders on the way to Hailsham. We were still in time but only just, and I now had no idea now far it was due to my detour.
Steve Dennis appeared at this point having taken a scenic detour around Rotherfield but still easily within time. I stayed with the bunch to the next control after Arlington, no sign of the rest of my group. But after a few minutes they all appeared and “the Grinny club run” continued out through Ripe and Laughton to arrive at the A22 with just over 5 minutes to go (10 if you included the extra 5 mins we had been given on our start sheet). But I wanted to get in within 3.45 and after some soul searching we all finally crossed the line with a minute to spare.
So no cuppa or food half way round; but this was amply compensated by Dave “El Supremo” Hudson’s welcome refreshments back at the hall including the legendary Stollen.
A great event on a lovely day; a big thanks to Tony Palmer and all his helpers. Here’s looking forward to next year’s.
Results: EGCC were 4th with 7 successful riders.
The winners, and holders of the Rally Shield, were Lewes
Wanderers with 15 successful riders.