I got out on my bike twice last week. The first time was on Sunday the 5th, which was a slightly shorter ride as it was a busy weekend so I took a slightly different approach. There are some hilly bits and roads I don't know around Wadhurst in Sussex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadhurst). So I worked out a loop that was pretty much either up or down with very little flat riding. It was originally going to be about 58km with around 900m of climbing but I had a bailout point if I was getting tight on time.
I'd promised to be back home under two and a half hours and wanted to make sure I was. As it turned out, it would have been touch and go that I'd made the longer loop through and around Lamberhurst (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamberhurst
), so I bailed out slightly early and got back in 2 hours 5 minutes. In the end it was 51.45km and 795m of climbing. The climbing definitely reduced my average speed (to under 25kmh) and as you can see by the picture of the route – it was pretty up and down. There are some wonderful views between Rotherfield (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherfield
) and Wadhurst as you're often at high points. There are a couple of steep climbs from Scrag Oak into Wadhurst and then from Vicarage Green to Primmers Green.
It's always good to get to know new roads and to push a bit further out of your comfort zone. For a good chunk of this route it was only the second time I have ridden the road and the big advantage of the second time is that I didn't need a map. Last time around here I was travelling with lots of folded up Google maps in my pocket and regularly stopping to check I was where I was supposed to be. The problem with this is that you never find your rhythm on a ride.
Unusually I did have sore legs after this ride. My hill climbing is my greatest weakness as a cyclist, so my strategy is to battle my way up them working on my technique. I am finding that I'm riding up hills both in and out of the saddle and more and more if I get out of the saddle it's to get momentum back and I shift up a gear as I get up on my pedals. It's working well so far, so I'll keep doing it.
Last Thursday (the 9th of September) was a lovely day here. Warmish and sunny intervals, I had originally hoped to go for a ride with Malcolm but he was too busy getting ready for his Autumn holidays. Again, I wanted to have a relatively hilly ride and the weather was good enough that I knew that I'd kick myself later if I didn't get a decent ride in.
I headed out of town via Forest Road and down to Groombridge my normal way but I decided then climb Groombridge Hill (the Col de Groombridge as it's sometimes referred to) which was fine – it just has lots of car traffic. From there it was down the hill through Fordcombe but instead of going up Saints Hill on the other side of the valley as usual I took the left over the bridge and turned right up Nunnery Lane, which I'd never ridden before and it is steep. There's not traffic and some nice views through the trees but it was a tough climb and it got me thinking about the art of suffering on the bike. I've read that all great cyclists relish the suffering – to be frank that's a work in progress for me. I wrestle with the suffering rather than embrace it and generally find that I suffer most in the first hour of a ride and on the steepest hills. I'll keep working on it. Another tough winter (assuming that's what we get) will be marvellous for the suffering!
Anyway, I rode from there through Cowden and along Furnace Lane which runs parallel to the A264 at Hammerwood and is a fantastic little country lane, with some massive and beautiful houses on it. I looped my way back to Hartfield and started to climb up into the Ashdown Forest via Gallipot Hill, through Colemans Hatch and up Colemans Hatch Road – which is a lovely way to climb up into the Forest with fantastic views towards East Grinstead. Then when you get across to Nutley and ride along Crowborough Road towards Duddleswell there are fantastic views towards Uckfield and Buxted – part of the joy of riding along the tops of hills. This part of the ride is relatively flat as you've got a chunk of the climbing out of the way and I was able get along at a good speed (around 35kmh). A short climb towards Blackhill then a nice descent back out of the Forest towards Groombridge and then back into town the way I'd left.
In the end it was 77km at an average of 27.1kmh and 860m of climbing. Total mileage for the year now stands at 3,338km.
Thanks for reading