Photos courtesy Luke de Quay – more photos
Paul Winkley writes…
New bike? I was asked at the start. Yes, never ridden it before – still, I built it so at least if it falls apart it’s my fault! This course is never easy for those of us of more substantial [normal!] proportions. Personally I hadn’t ridden this event since 2008 – can’t remember the time but know it was disappointing after a hard winter’s training.
Aware that Rob Pelham the Lewes Wanderers fast man was off behind me it was a case of when not how he could be held off. The inevitable happened at Plumbers Plain. With arms hurting by this stage and quickly realising my folly of not having ridden this bike before, a little ‘fettling’ is required me thinks.
Cowfold and onto a nice fast stretch of road – trying to make up some time before the climb to Ansty Cross and a breather down to the bottom of Cuckfield High Street. On a recce of the course a few weeks ago I rode up here on the big ring I’m now in bottom gear and gasping – funny thing racing.
Over the top and off towards the worst part of the course [in my humble opinion] towards Balcombe, a rollercoaster of a road, but mainly up it seemed. I caught my two minute man at this stage so at least I’m not last. Grinding up the last hill toward the Cowdrey Arms it might have been quicker to walk! Then left and the relatively flat road to the finish – about 3 miles out eventual winner Connell Yates came by me like a car catching me for 16 minutes – different planet!
Its always amazing the spread of finish times for this course, clearly there was much suffering out there.
My thanks to Steve Dennis and all who marshalled, served teas, time kept etc. These events don’t just happen; a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. Road Racing at Cyclopark Gravesend next week – they say it’s flat!
Ben Hardisty writes…
Last time I rode the full course on this event I was rather embarrassingly caught at the top of the first hill at the first turn in Handcross by the evergreen Mel Roberton. This year I wasn’t going to let that happen, but as a consequence when I waved at Angela who was marshalling that turn, I may have attempted to smile but I was feeling decidedly ropey with the effort. Strava had me down for 5:02 for the 1.1 mile climb, a little way behind Pete Morris in 3:32 (top of leaderboard).
From Handcross heading West its a gentle descent giving you the chance to get your legs and lungs back. Another mile or so and my minute man caught me. Damn I thought but at least I had held him off for a bit longer than last time.
A nice bit of downhill at Crabtree before the little climb up and down into Cowfold. Having faced a headwind all the way so far I was looking forward to the tailwind as I headed east towards Bolney. Alas it wasn’t to be and the tailwind did not materialise. Having ridden this course a few times now I was rudely reminded that this does happen sometimes.
A climb up to Ansty and a descent followed by another climb up into Cuckfield. There was Luke with his camera ! For the next few miles its up and down, through Balcombe and eventually its the last turn, left back towards Handcross. Mercifully the trees and high hedges provided a reasonable shield from the headwind. Eventually the finish line comes into view but not before Chris Yates comes past and gives me a shout. Nowhere near my fastest time on this course, but thats my first event of the year done.
Many thanks to Steve, Richard and their band of helpers out on the course and in HQ dishing out refreshments. And thanks to the weather which for the first time was relatively kind compared to recent years.
Results and photos to follow