Martin Malins writes…
I first got into Audax through riding a reliability trial. The idea of a social ride with a group of riders at your own pace appeals to me, and can be quite sporting as well especially on a hilly course. Up until this year I had only even ridden the ESCA event, but after organising it, was determined to do some of the others. The Hindhead in mid January was a good ride but could have been better if I had known where I was going!
The Lewes Wanderers one started from Chailey where my own Audax ride starts, but used almost none of the same roads. I met my Audax helper Ian (who lives in Chailey) at the start and as he had decided to go for the 5hr 100km time band I joined him. I desperately attempted to get my overshoes on as the group of 15-20 riders departed and eventually caught them up. No sooner had we started when we were joined by an impatient driver in a 4×4, but thankfully he went a different way after a couple of k’s.
Very soon we were riding through Ditchling and over Clayton Hill before descending along the very frosty cyclepath by the A23. I was acutely aware of the recent Rhyll tragedy as we gingerly turned a few icy corners around Fulking. Here the main group left Ian and I behind but we managed to regain them through Steyning before losing touch riding into a strong biting wind towards Ashurst. Now we were out of the field we had to start reading our course sheets. We ended up taking a wrong turn (the right road name, just in the wrong place) and before long had ridden 3km the wrong way.
Arriving back on route near Monks Gate, I retraced back to the furthest point to ensure we had not missed the control, but some later riders confirmed that we hadn’t. Very soon we came to the control for some welcome coffee and cake. Revitalised we continued to Staplefield and up the last big hill of the day to Slough Green. Back on my home turf we were able to ride without reference to the route sheet all the way to Hurstpierpoint where we decided to follow my Audax route along the North side of the Downs, a bit further but much more peaceful.
Unfortunately Ian got lost and that was the last I saw of him until the finish as he took the route through Ditchling. In order to make the distance up there was one last slog up to Cornwells Bank from where it was all downhill to the finsh, which I reached in 4 hrs 30 minutes. Another 100k under the belt for January, a big thanks to the Wanderers for organising an excellent ride.