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A belter of a Sunday, a quick TT and a Devon Road Trip in ten days…

On Sunday the 5th, 25 of us met up at 06:45 (or 07:00 (ish) for some) and rode into the cool early summer sun. With Arm warmers still very much on our route took us first down to Penshurst and Edenbridge, before looping over to Copthorne and then south toward, but crucially missing, Haywards Heath[1]. We came out onto the coast by Alfriston and climbed over Beachy Head to our lunchtime stop on the outskirts of Eastbourne.

The ride back proved much more to my style of riding punctuated as it was by lots of short sharp “Belgian Climbs”. The “Mayfield Mountains” split the group up several times, but did nothing to dampen anybodies spirits in the now piping hot midday sun. The last push back into Tunbridge Wells gave us a chance to test our breakaway and sprinting skills and virtually the whole group met up for a beer afterwards. A few of us chatted about how 110 miles would be a below average mileage in the Giro (which is currently running) and how you’d have to keep that up every day for three weeks – guess that’s why they get paid to do it!

I knew the long ride would be good for my legs, but it’s pointless if you don’t keep them ticking over so I made a point to commute everyday this week to ready myself for the S&DW Thursday night TT which was a fairly hilly affair on Ashdown. This is where I do much of my riding so I could visualise where to work hard on the course before we started, without having to recce it. I left the TT bike at the shop this week as it was far too windy for my liking and climbed aboard my trusty ten year old Scott – The nine-speed silver bullet.

I set off eleventh and caught a couple of riders on the long climb up to the top of the forest, where the wind caught you head-on just as you wanted to shift back into the big dog. Not one to change a plan, I stuck it in the big ring anyway and pushed as hard as my spindly legs would push! We turned left at Kings Standing and then rattled all the way down to Lye Green before I passed the next couple of riders and then over to the Groombridge turning and it’s lovely punchy short climb. By this point I was about ready to blow chunks, but the short downhill gave me a chance to breathe, before the drag to Withyham and then the final rise to Hartfield. Unlike a couple of weeks ago I was able to sprint all the way to the line for what I think was 5th place.

Our Saturday morning shop ride took in a pretty rapid loop of the local hills and back roads but just like the pros the day before in the Giro, we got rained upon several times and I reckon I stayed rubber side down more by luck than judgement. No time to clean the bike before I’d done a morning in the shop and was on my way to (not-so-) sunny Devon. Staying in Lynmouth was the ideal place to base a couple of real days of riding around with it’s fine quota of 500+ feet climbs in all directions.

My Monday ride took me up Lynton Hill to Barbrook (609 ft @ 1:4), before turning onto a rough farm track to Shallowford and then on to the Saddlegate and Woodbarrow (1566 ft) on a cobbled access road. On the top you have no defined path to take as The Chains area of Exmoor are largely grassy bog which changes from one month to the next – this means navigation is important which was tough, as I was surrounded by not much more than grass, sheep shit and cloud. Having ridden, hiked and waded my way past Pinkery Pond and over to Blackpits I made my way back over to Badgworthy water, down to Malmsmead and on to Brendon before climbing up to Hallslake (936 ft @ 1:4) and then finally back down to sea level via a mix of bridleway and road. A drizzly day, but a good one none the less.

…and then it rained – I mean it really rained! I spent Tuesday on the road bike, this time setting off up Countisbury (1056 ft @ 1:5) and then headed along the wind and rain battered coast road to Culbone before dropping all the way back to sea level at Porlock Weir. I then dog-legged back through Porlock and up the main road to Porlock Common (1431 ft @ mostly 1:4 (ouch!)). The road over to Exford levels out at about 1000 feet before I attacked the easy side of Dunkery Beacon and dropped down to Selworthy for lunch.

After the lunch break I headed up Dunkery the hard way,  climbing 1350 ft of vertical ascent in just three miles which bloody hurt and then I made my way back to Exford and climbed the 500 ft back up to Porlock Common and then down to Robbers Bridge and Oare. The final sprint over to Hillsford Bridge and down to Lynmouth saw me drop 947 ft in just over 2 miles – steep! I spent five hours in the rain and climbed over 6000 ft in approx. 65 miles.

And so with that I made my return to sunny Sussex with a good pair of legs, four knackered sets of brake pads and several litres of Scrumpy.

Glen runs THE.TRIBECA.SPORT.WØRKSHOP  which is based at 28 London Road, Southborough, TN4 0QB – 01892 533 339 – . The shop specialises in precision servicing, race prepping, 3D bike fitting and high quality bikes and equipment. Drop in, give us a call, visit our Facebook page or browse our website for more details. He also runs the shop race team and club as well as racing ‘cross, road and cross-country nationally.

All views and opinions are personal and should be taken with a pinch of salt – This blog is not for cissies or cry-babies – Please always adhere to rules V and X.


[1] Haywards Heath is known as the “heart of Sussex”, but has got to be the ugliest town in the area. Couple this with the incredible low standard of driving in the area – I’ve had more “close-calls” in the area due to drivers not knowing how roundabouts or right of ways work than just about anywhere (except for Plumpton and Forrest Row, both of which are on par in the bad driving stakes but fair slightly better in the not-being-ugly stakes. Therefore I now avoid Haywards Heath like Herpes.

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