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Mid Sussex Hillier Audax

Mid Sussex Hillier Audax

My ride started from Upgrade towers where I had parked and met Bob Norton who was on his Kinesis RTD. I was on my GTD. It was already lashing down and the 37km ride over to Uckfield to the start left us with nothing dry at all! It was only 100km, that shouldn’t take much more than four hours... should it?

Well, storm Babet had certainly washed over Sussex in the last few days and the rain was due to continue for the foreseeable. Fend Offs were in full use today! Bob and I met fellow Kinesis Ambassador Caven O’Hara on his GX Race at the start and after a quick flat white and getting our Brevet cards we followed the other riders out onto the route. Story and photos by Rupert Robinson

Quite Wet

We climbed out of Uckfield on the High Street heading in the direction of Ringles Cross towards Buxted taking a left on a quiet lane called Hurstwood Road. We were already climbing, and Cav said his Wahoo was showing 26 climbs. My Garmin only registered 6 categorised efforts, so it hadn’t kicked into Climb Pro despite going uphill.

Left at Burnt Oak Farm where the first info was on the brevet card. ‘Saturday postal collection time?’ (9km) We took a quick photo of the post box to fill out the card later and rode over to Fairwarp. The roads were a wash with the rain and debris, see here.

Angry Animal

A squiggle across some main-ish roads and then up to Nutley before heading west to Chelwood Gate and Twyford. Before this and at 26km where were looking for the second info – ‘Angry animal on sign’. Despite all three of us looking we didn’t manage to see any signs with an angry animal only some fly tipping.

On Twyford Lane there would be a ford to cross. Luckly there was a small bridge to the left we were able to walk over. All of us knew what fords can be like and not being able to see whats below and how slippy in can be with the cobbles underneath and this one had quite a flow to it from the recent and current rainfall.

Kingscote Station

The route then headed to East Grinstead over the Ashdown Forest and up the Weirwood climb to Saint Hill. Once here we headed west again towards the Gravety Estate for info three at Kingscote station. Luckily for us the slog uphill was interrupted by the info 3 at 38km. ‘Date on Southern Railway Sign? Another photo and a pit stop at the railway for a nature break, and we got back on the climb.

Cob Lane

The route would take us into West Hoathly. Down past the Cat pub where the next info at 44km was the ‘name of farm buildings supplier?’ This was less than obvious, and we felt that today was a day for hunting for the info points rather than them being obvious. There was a sign for Burchetts which we noted down hoping this would be the answer. (it was). Next was the notorious Cob Lane climb.

Now, most riders would avoid this 20%+ schlep especially in the wet but no, we were heading this way. Despite Strava saying it was only 0.34km long it certainly felt much more and topped out at some point at over 31.3%! Just trying to keep the handlebars down and weave up was quite an effort but we all made it without putting a foot down.

Bye-bye Bob

Climbs at Ardingly, passed the reservoir and up to Balcombe and then Staplefield gathered some momentum as the food stop was at 59km. Hot Dogs, coffee, cereal bars and some cheeky celebrations hit the spot as offered by Martin the organiser. Martin had set up his feed post in the bus stop due to the rain so it was quite a well thought out set up.

It was here that Bob decided he would head back rather than complete the Audax as he had 50km to ride home if he continued to the finish and was only about 20km from home at this point. We were all feeling the effect of the rain and how slow, with the climbing, the day had been so far and totally understood why.

Ditchling Beacon

We bid farewell to Bob. Cav and I carried on towards the back of Cuckfield and onto Hurstpierpont via Broxmead Lane, Pickwell Lane, across the A272 to Hamlins Corner where the new cycle path is that runs along Dumbrells Farm Way. Once through Hurst we rode onto New Way Lane where we were at the foot of the downs and this continued on Underhill Lane until we hit Ditchling.

A cheeky dog leg up the iconic beacon, used on the London to Brighton bike ride, at 82km for info point number 6 at the car park ‘Symbol on car park sign?’. Cav had decided his legs weren’t there and with the climbing from the finish he had to do I dragged my self up for the obligatory selfie at the car park sign.

Last Leg

Just the finish leg to do now and we were done.  Past Plumpton, down Novington Lane to East Chiltington, South Chailey and Markstakes Lane would bring us to Piltdown skirting Newick for the climb back into Uckfield and down to the pub where the finish was. Card filled out and stamped, we were done. Just over 6 hours of elapsed time.

Celebratory Maccies

A warm Maccas would follow before we split and headed home, myself covering 177km (2294m) and Cav 135km (2488m). The roads on this route were ones you wouldn’t normally chose to ride locally unless you had to. It’s as if the smallest traffic free back roads with the most hills had been chosen and whilst we could chat and ride side by side most of the way it was tough going. The true spirit of an Audax ride. If you’re interested in doing any type of Audax then please check on their website. Its full of a wealth of info and rides all around the UK and beyond.  Home| Audax UK - The Long Distance Cyclists' Association.

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