A game of two halves!
OK we all saw the weather forecast and thought they’d get it wrong as usual. They didn’t ….in fact it was even worse than predicted.
The start of this year’s event was based on the traditional East Hoathly start, and as rumoured would consist of a loop to the north of the county and a loop to the south, in reality a sort of diagonal ‘figure of eight’.
With a fair East Grinstead contingent due to ride, in the end it was just Richard Woodward, Martin Malins, Paul Harris and myself PW in the 3 hours 45 mins group and Steve Dennis, Mike Anton and Andy Seltzer in the 3 hours 15 mins group, a combination of weather and work commitments stopping a few from starting.
With overnight temperatures dipping to -2.5 deg and with snow threatened this one was going to be interesting. As it turned out the weatherman’s watch was running a little slow and I left to drive to the event in sleet with -1 deg on the cars outside temperature censor. This turned to light rain by the time I arrived at East Hoathly with a bag full of cycling kit for all occasions. Opting for double overshoes, thick gloves, a woolly hat under helmet and my trusty Nevis jacket we set off …… wait a minute where’s Paul Harris? Had to find him he was the only one with a laminated route sheet!
The first thing to notice is dumbness in the extremities but after a few hills and a stop to make a route adjustment I finally got some feeling back in my fingers.
Encountering nothing worse than pack ice and a dead badger we got back to hall after the first half in time for an excellent coffee and stollen cake – thanks ‘El Supremo’ of which more later.
I was surprised to see many people packing up their cars and heading for home, but they must have had a premonition of what was to come. Shortly after the restart we ran into freezing rain driven by the wind in our faces – it hurt – a lot. At this point I began to get a lot of negative thoughts and began to hallucinate about warm cars and more cake, Martin reminded me that with so many clubs riders ‘packing’ we had a chance of winning the event so rode on. Things quickly improved and although it was still raining heavily it was not so cold and the wind had dropped. Through Barcombe and out towards Ringmer, then it happened… it stopped raining and with 3 miles to go the Sun even came out – thanks weather gods.
So that’s the ‘2008 ESCA’ all EGCC riders that started finished and [I think] on time. I wonder how many other clubs can say that. Steve Dennis even picked himself up off the road just before the finish. The weather was ‘Biblical’, worst in living memory [well there was ’94 but that’s another story]
Superb canteen from Dave ‘El Supremo’ Hudson, our thanks to him. I think it’s our turn to organise next year, probably be boiling and we’ll all be in shorts!