Martin Malins writes…
The day dawned sunny for this popular annual event which starts from East Court. The history behind the ride was that Keith Butler of Surrey League fame was asked to provide a Southern CTC ride to rival the Derbyshire Phil and Friends ride, he certainly managed to find some hills!
Paul Harris, Bob Taylor, Marek Siwicki and myself all entered the 150 km ride. The ride took off up past Standen before tracing the familiar route up to Turners Hill and the Cowdray Arms where it backtracked into Ardingly via some lovely lanes (and hills). Cob Lane (the easy way!) was dry for a change and soon we were through Horsted Keynes and Twyford and riding into Ashdown Forest.
See Paul Harris’ photos in
the gallery section.
A slog up Kidds Hill (aka the Wall) was rewarded by a marvellous descent of Chuck Hatch and then through Hartfield to Groombridge Place, where we stopped for a sandwich and a group photo. We had got into a small bunch of middle speed riders by now as we took the familiar and very pleasant Friars Gate road back up to the top.
Then more wiggly lanes through to Uckfield (where the 115 km route via Burnt Oak departed) and Framfield to reach le Mont de Mayfield of ESCA Reliability fame. Very lumpy after that and soon we were slogging up to Bells Yew Green and Mark Cross for more pleasant lanes (with arrows marked on the map!). We met the 115km route just before Eridge and decided to forgoe the 2nd rest stop at Groombridge.
The nasty hills of Groombridge and Fordcombe passed, and soon we were riding along the lovely lane from Cowden up to Dormansland. There was only one way from here; up! Sandhawes Hill to be precise, and we all arrived back at East Court at around the 7 hr mark to complete this superb day’s ride. Make a diary date for next year!
Marek Siwicki writes…
The Southern Challenge was certainly a challenge. I set off at speed with
a few guys from Sussex Nomads and one guy from Redhill CC. At first I was
doing a fair share on the front, but then I realised that this group was
pretty strong so I sat in. We arrived at Groombridge feed station in just
under two hours, the guy who was setting it up had only just arrived so all
we got was a top up of our water bottles and off we went. Think he was a
bit shocked that we got there so quick.
After 3.5 hours I could not handle the pace these guys were setting so I
settled down into my own rhythm and took it easy. Later on I passed the
Sussex Nomad boys who were having a long cafe break. I decided to plough
on. The hills were not too hard but it was just that there were lots and
lots of them. At 20km to go I had to stop to have a break as my feet were
starting to really hurt. 5 mins and I was off for the hard slog back. The
last 20km in any long ride is always really hard I find and I started to
slow, it was pretty damn hilly. A couple of other guys overtook me on this
section. I reached Dormansland with 5 minutes to go inside 6 hours. This
gave me an adrenaline rush and I hammered it back to East Court to go over
the line in 5.59.59.
Quite a hard ride, lots of hills and some dodgy descents and ascents with
narrow roads. I ended up climbing one hill on the grass verge as there
were a couple of horse vans coming down it, that was tough. Did not see
the others after the start but sounds like they had a fun ride.