Ben Hardisty writes…
With my teeth literally chattering on the start line and having been warned of ice just up the road, I was wondering what on earth had persuaded me to enter this event. I had spoken to the event organiser Keith Wilkinson on the Friday the week before over the phone to ask for a late entry and he kindly allowed me to enter, and now I was first off.
It was my first time on this famous (or should that be infamous) ‘hardriders’ 29.9 mile course and whilst it lived up to its reputation, I have to say I enjoyed it. It is a course that never really lets up on the riders with any flatter sections quickly broken up by a short climb or a long drag. And today we had ice and pot holes to boot, or should that be black holes ! Several times I found myself bunny hopping over mini ‘canyons’ in the road.
From Leigh its short but rolling on the back lanes up to the A25. Its more of the same heading west on the A25 on the way to Dorking trying to avoid gaps in the tarmac. In fact a feature of this ride was staying alert to the dangers lurking on the road surface.
Then turning left at the Deepdene roundabout (the grand canyon) for the longest drag of the day up the A24 bypassing Dorking. Finally at the top I was thinking …now from memory (in the car) the A24 is definitely flat for a few miles… no it isn’t ! The reality was lots of drags and a few humps via Beare Green and Kingsfold, but then I remembered it was definitely flatter down towards Warnham. It was here that I started to feel the NE wind …aargh !
So struggling along what I thought would be the quickest section of the course, I then turned left up past the Crawleys Wheelers ’10’ start. Ahead was Hurst hill, the steepest climb of the day. And as luck would have it, just as I was cresting the ‘summit’, there was a photographer to capture the painful moment.
I glanced down at my average speed, “Oh dear this isn’t going to plan” I thought. Never mind surely its downhill all the way to the finish from here. No. More ups and downs all the way back to Leigh, but on the up side it is a picturesque route !
Finally round the bend the chequered flag came into view and my first ride of the season was done – phew !
In form Wouter Sybrandy won the event with Peter Tadros and Steve Dennis 2nd and 3rd. In the ladies event Rebecca Slack from London Dynamo broke the ladies record, chapeau !
Hats off to the organiser Keith Wilkinson and his team (incl Richard Blackmore on time keeping duties) for a great event.
For the course details I recorded the ride on my garmin device.
Results 1 Wouter SYBRANDY Sigma Sport 01:07:44 2 Peter TADROS In Gear Quickvit RT 01:09:13 3 Steve DENNIS East Grinstead CC 01:09:42 4 Michael COYLE VC Etoile 01:11:21 5 Malcolm DAVIES Kent Cycles RC 01:12:07 6 Darren BARCLAY Arctic-Premier RT 01:12:23 20 Rebecca SLACK London Dynamo 01:19:11 44 Ben HARDISTY East Grinstead CC 01:29:51 60 riders completed the event