Ride bikes. Have fun. Feel good.

Mid Sussex Hilly 110km

Martin Malins writes…

Having taken over organisation of this popular ride last year I had learnt
many lessons about estimating just how long things would take. Whole days
were spent printing address labels and sticking them to cards, and in the
final week I spent much of the time cramming food and drinks into the
car.

On Thursday I had a day off, and with the blessing of a beautiful sunny
day rode the route in the company of two fellow audaxers who had ridden or driven
down from London, one who was extending the ride to 200km as a DIY + Calendar
permanent (of interest to AUK anoraks only!). This was a very enjoyable
sociable ride, as I was riding with more company than the last time I rode the calendar
event in 2004 when Paul H left me for dead at the first big hill!.

On Saturday
the big day arrived, and with texts and phonecalls sent to my various helpers
I set off at 0630 to Chailey with Dominic. I had to drive around some of
the route in reverse in order to leave a bucket at one of the control points.
Ian my helper was waiting at Chailey and we quickly set about organising
the essentials; mainly tea and coffee making facilities and a table to handle
entries. There were already a couple of cars outside the hall, one of whom
may have been there all night as he rushed into the loos as soon as I opened
the door!

The steady trickle of riders turned into a flood, and gradually
the pre-entered cards vanished from the table, with the only “on the
line” entries arriving in good time to register. At last at 8.25 all but
two cards (the owners of who ?phoned later to say they couldn?t make it)
had been collected, with one another notified DNS I gave a wad of notes
to a trustworthy rider to give to El Supremo for his lunchtime stop and set
out to brief the riders on a few last minute tweaks to the route.

With Mike Anton on hand to take some really nice photos around the route (thanks a
lot Mike, I’ve already had lots of enquiries and praise about these from
featured riders).
see Mike’s pics

The peleton set off at 8.30 and I made ready to set up a catering stand on top of the
forest. It was misty on the top when we arrived but the sun had begun to
break through as the first riders arrived. But squash, bananas, biscuits
and fun size bars were not enough to tempt them to stop and the leading
group with Andy S sped past. Paul H used the stop as an opportunity to stop and
shed some clothing though, stuffing some nutrition into his cheeks before
giving chase again. And then the rest of the 70+ field arrived in dribs
and drabs, most of whom stopped for a snack and a chat, and all too soon they
were gone. I caught the last rider, who had a delayed start owing to having
had to go back to Seaford to collect his other cycling shoe!

The rest of
the riders were in Duddleswell cafe so satisfied that everyone was sufficiently
fed and watered I returned to the hall with Dominic. When I arrived the
filled roll factory of my wife Julie, mum, and Doug were in full activity and as
the expected time of the first arrivals passed we were all ready. We then
spent a busy afternoon validating cards and filling hungry stomachs, chatting
to the many familiar faces during quiet periods, before the last few riders
finally rolled in just before 1800.

And then a quick dash round the hall
with broom and mop and that was almost it for another year; just a bit of
paperwork to do back home later. And then I sped up to East Grinstead to
decant all the stuff out of the car before filling it with caving gear for
the long drive up North for a stonking trip into Peak Cavern in Derbyshire
the next day, with not a thought of cycling!