The 2nd organised event of the year for me, and it was the Evans RideIT South Downs Sportive which was hosted at the rather unique and picturesque Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, a time capsule of the way life used to be and how people lived.
It was a lovely setting to start the ride, the only shame being that the car park was a good 5 minute walk from registration and the start line, and the path from the car park was very rocky and I’d be very surprised if no one suffered a puncture before they even started.
As always registration was a breeze, all over in 30 seconds and then it was off to the start line for the pre-ride briefing. I was there fairly early so go into one of the first few groups to go, and as we set off there were people still arriving by car.
I had originally registered for the long (72 mile) ride, but given the lack if miles I have managed to get in since the last event due to work commitments, I very rationally decided to drop down to the medium (50 mile) event. That was a good call on my behalf – it was plenty!
The ride started with a gradual 6 mile climb up to the top of Duncton Hill. Not really troubling or anything and the descent after it was a welcome reward. The ride even at this point was proving to be quiet and scenic – just the way I like it.
The the next 16 or so miles took us north towards Fenhurst, the overall gradient of which was again uphill, but with lots and lots of lumps along the way. Still, it wasn’t too troublesome, and the first leg was finished with a slightly more troublesome climb up Linch Road, Redford. The feed station was right at the top of the climb and was a welcome sight.
Although it doesn’t look like it I was quite enjoying it at this point.
The second leg however was going to really push me to my limited limits…
The descent from Redford I think must have lulled me in to a false sense of security. The was a joyous descent on a love quiet wide road. Just what the doctor ordered, but within 6 miles we were on another of those gradual climbs, this time in the shape of Gatehouse Lane, which went on for about 3 miles. Grinding out the miles was becoming hard work…
But again, after grinding out the climb we were met with another descent, this time down to Rogate and then the rolling ups and downs that took us to the dreaded Harting.
They stationed the feed stop at the top of Harting Hill. I still don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand I could have done with a brief break before setting up Harting Hill, but on the other hand, it was something to motivate me up the climb. I was so fearful of bombing out like I did on Whitedown a few weeks ago, so I set my gaze 2 feet ahead of me on the ground and just pushed. And pushed. And pushed. I’m pretty sure that getting off and walking would have been quicker, but there was no way this hill was going to beat me. Not today!
And so I arrived at the 2nd feedstop. All sorts of expletives left behind on the hill, but I had made it and I was spent.
But the cakes, and flapjack and bananas and cake at the feedstop did their job and within about 5 minutes I was feeling refreshed. Refreshed and focussed on the final leg. Now to my mind the final leg was downhill all the way. We were just heading down toward the coast. It must have been right? Sort of…
The initial descent after Harting Hill was very welcome but then met with a short sharp lump in the form of North Marden climb before then being offered the next phase of descent down to Lavant. And so it seemed that I had broken the back of the ride and we were plain sailing for home. Wrong!
I had forgotten we were going to be swinging back round to Singleton via Goodwood. And Goodwood isn’t flat. Far from it! In fact it’s a 1 mile 6% gradient climb. Now that might not seem too challenging but after 47 miles and Harting Hill it seemed like 10 miles at 15%. 2 feet ahead. Focus on the road and just turn the pedals. It was pretty horrible and eventually I made to the the peak to be offered a final sharp descent back to the start at the Open Air Museum.
My early season form hasn’t had a chance to build and today’s ride showed that again. I was very grateful it was over.
This is today’s ride as logged by Strava.
Once again Evans did a great job at putting the ride on. If you are looking for a relatively good value ride, with flexibility of routes, and good organisation then I can recommend them highly. They do a good job with smiles on their faces.
Good to get another 50 under my belt, and 2nd of a planned 10 events this year, but more training is needed. 2015 is definitely a work in progress!