Steve Dennis writes…
I haven’t ridden this event for a couple of years, so I thought it was about time to give it a go for old times sake! Mike Anton and Ted Boorman were also on the start list representing East Grinstead along with 52 other riders from across the county out to stake their claim in the Sussex County 50 miles Championship.
In contrast to conditions during the week, Sunday morning dawned still and dry, but with the threat of rain forecast for later on I went prepared to get wet. As it turned out though, the rain held off with only a few patches of light drizzle to worry about. (unlike later that day!)
Off no. 80, I had last year’s winner Rupert Burbidge of In-Gear 10 minutes behind me and his team mate, Conall Yates 15 minutes in front. I considered these two plus Seb Ader of a3crg and Darren Barclay of Arctic-Sram to be my main rivals for today’s race. Mike A.,starting two minutes after me didn’t rate his chances too high as he joked while riding out to the start that he’d “see me in about 3 hours!”. Mike actually did 2:09:28.
On a course that starts just east of West Grinstead cross roads, goes east to Bolney, back to Cowfold, south to Henfield, back to West Grinstead then south to Washington and on to Beeding Court, you could be mistaken for thinking this was a tour of Sussex. But we’re not finished yet! At Beeding Court you retrace to Washington then south on the A24 to turn again at Findon for the final leg north on the A24 to Dial Post.
My ride was pretty uneventful apart from a fast-moving tractor on the Adur causeway that took me by surprise and made me drop my drink bottle. Damn! Just when I was starting to get thirsty! I caught Darren Barclay at Wiston on the way back, so he was no longer a threat, but I had no idea what the others were up to. With clear runs at most of the roundabouts, including Washington hill, I toiled my way on to the finish in Swallows Lane, which after the smooth dual-carriageways, nearly rattles your fillings out.
Back at the HQ the fastest time on the board was Conall Yates, riding his first ever 50 in a very impressive 1:49:43. But when my time was chalked up at 1:48:56, Conall graciously conceded defeat. Sussex Champion for the 11th time! (course & event record).
Other times:- Seb Ader 1:52:37 3rd
Rupert Burbidge 1:53:40 4th