Progress! (and a team Sky Jaguar)

Last night I mapped out a potential ride for today, which combined heading out of town through Langton Green then heading north to Fordcombe and then looping west to Cowden and through to Hartfield, up to Chelwood Gate and then looping back down to Groombridge, across to Frant and back through Hawkenbury. All up 71km and good chunk of mileage to get me back to pretty much the 20km per day level for the month.

So just before lunchtime I hit the road. Normally it seems to take me 30-45 minutes to start to feel good on a ride the first half hour is usually something I just grind my way through and then things start to get better. Today the first hill I really hit was after Fordcombe called Saints Hill and although I got down to my granny ring, I managed to get up the hill a couple of gears higher than previously and this continued for most of the ride. 

I was feeling good and getting across the countryside a bit more quickly and in higher gears than usual. Once I got to Hartfield the road up towards Forest Row was closed for roadworks but after a brief chat with the guy on the traffic control he suggested I cut through the grass head up the (closed) footpath and back onto their soft tarmac and I'd be fine to continue with my chosen route. With my Open Pro's on the bike there's not much I won't have a crack at riding over, so a bit of kerb jumping, across the grass and I was on soft tarmac which was a bit odd – lots of friction and bit sticking to the tyres until I got onto some firmer ground. It's always nice to ride on closed roads and I've regularly found that the roadworks guys are pretty happy to let cyclists past the road closed signs. 

From there I climbed up further into the Ashdown Forest and stopped briefly to take the photos for today. Great views and not many people on the roads (hardly any cyclists), I spotted a guy in a team Sky jersey on the A road heading to Chelwood Gate. He was going the other way but it looked like he was on a Pinarello Paris – so he had the right jersey on for the bike (not something I usually manage). One photo I didn't get was riding around the cows on the road in the forest very near the last photo – they had horns and they were big so I thought I'd keep riding – that and there were 3 or 4 cars also trying to get round them. Again though my tempo, cadence and speed was all good. I'm a reasonable descender but I'm not a great hill climber unless my fitness is pretty good and today after the big downhill from the top of the forest through Friars Gate (the big descent you can see on the graphic) the short climb that follows I managed to get up well into the middle of my cassette in the big ring until very nearly the top. From there it was the big ring all the way back home. 

Stopping at the A26 to cross back onto Bunny Lane for the last few k's home I watched as a left hand drive Team Sky Support Jaguar X-Type Estate drove past on the A road heading south from Tunbridge Wells – so that was a good spot when I was out on the bike – no idea where it was going but it was quite cool to see it. 

By the time I was at this point, I was starting to feel tired and had finished all of my energy drink and snacks, so rather than push it and potentially blow up, I cut the ride slightly short and took a slightly easier and quicker route home that cut 6kms of the planned route and cut out 100m of climbing. That being said the final tally for the day was 65km with an average speed of 27kmh, which is my fastest ever ride at this sort of distance and with a decent amount of climbing. Total mileage for the year is now 1,600 km so it's starting to build now.

So I'm feeling pretty good as I write this. Tomorrow is a day off the road bike but I'm taking the kids out cycling in the morning on a family cycle path near that is apparently dead flat – so this can be a recovery ride. 

It's Father's day on Sunday so I'm planning a ride and we might head back up into the Forest again … nice – I'm looking forward to it.