Yesterday I took part in Davina’s Big Sussex Bike Ride. There were 3 distances to choose from, which were 21, 40 or 68 miles. I had signed up for the longer of the distances with the lovely Laura and Helen who I am doing the Newcastle to London ride with in August.
Laura has done this ride before and I vaguely remember her saying it was a fast ride. What I think she meant was it is hilly and just a constant up and down. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before (a hundred times) but I hate hills.
Before we set off I should mention that Helen and I saw Davina and had a quick photo with her though before we did she told me how she loved my cycling kit, which was of course the Romford CC infamous pink and yellow kit. Like I said to Davina (see we are on first name terms now) it’s a bit like marmite people love it or hate it, one guy on a ride said he wasn’t sure if it was hideous or genius but at least you see us! And Davina loves it and she’s amazing and clearly has great taste!
We set off and the first 15/20 miles lulls you into a false sense of security and we were comfortably cycling along before we realised we were leading a group of about 17 riders! We also had to stop on one road for the most amazing reason – there were some farmers herding a pack of working labrador dogs and I don’t mean a few there must have been around 50 dogs – I’ve never seen anything like it and was the best reason to have to stop on a ride ever. I’m just sad I didn’t have time to take a photo.
I should also mention that the second we started the ride the heavens opened and the biblical weather pretty much stayed with us for the whole ride – it was not quite as bad as the weather we had on the Prudential Ride London in 2014 but it came close! The route from 20 miles was then pretty much up and down with some very sneaky short steep hills that seemed to just appear out of nowhere as you turned the corner.
There is a hill near where I live called Old Church Hill, which I often lovingly call Old Church B*tch because it is a b*tch with terrible road surface, only the width of one car and it gets steeper and steeper as you go up the different sections, and we were faced with some of those yesterday. One got steeper than you realised looking at it and the guy in front us couldn’t quite make it but didn’t have time to clip out of his pedals so over he went. I felt very sorry for him though was extremely grateful that he moved out of the way so we could make it to the top.
There were many roads with signs as you enter warning of steep descents, pot holes, uneven surface and that cyclists should be in single file. Now I love a descent and I normally power down (with gravity on my side being larger than I should be) with no fear. Yesterday I think I descended slower than I ever have down hills a) because of the roads and b) because the weather made them really pretty scary in places. I will admit I felt like there were many roads on this ride where a mountain bike would have been more appropriate than a road bike.
Due to the weather it meant we were soaked through pretty much from the start and at one point Helen asked me what I washed my cycling kit in. I figured she wanted to know if I used anything special, especially as we were soaking wet and absolutely filthy with ourselves and our bikes caked in mud, and just replied my usual washing tablets and asked why? She then told me that I was blowing bubbles from my backside. Literally. I was frothing and foaming like someone had poured fairy liquid over me. I put my hand to my rear and when I bought it back it was covered in foam. Clearly my washing machine is not rinsing enough! That or I have a party trick I was unaware of? Helen on the other hand had a nice brown stripe up her behind and back from the mud and rain and looked like she’d had another sort of accident. It is lucky we both have partners as we were not looking particularly attractive like that!
The rain made us extremely cold so we were very grateful for the tea at the finish and our well earned medals.
We had to get changed pretty quickly as we were freezing and everything was dripping wet, which is funny as Helen told me at one point that she was hoping to top up her tan – definitely not the day for that. I was also really pleased to load my ride and see I came 10th overall for the women on the ride – me, the hill hater on a hilly ride came 10th! I still need to work on hills though, i would like to get to a point where I can get up without thinking will I or won’t I make it and without panting like an asthmatic dog.
Oh and did I mention Davina loved my cycling kit? Did I mention that? The pink and yellow of Romford CC – well she did and so she should its amazing!