Height 1

I was checking on my recent progress after my layoff,  and I decided to add up the ascending info from my MTB rides over the last 2 + months …. and was pleasantly surprised……

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3.5 miles to Eastbourne

I was glad to see the sign post at the top of the climb out of Jevington.  3.5 miles and I could stop.  Just 2.5 miles more of side wind buffeting, a steep down hill and then on to the gradually sloping promenade road along Eastbourne seafront.  On the top of the downs it was cold, overcast and windy but as I hit the tarmac lower down the sea and Eastbourne glistened in the evening sun like the quintessential seaside town should. Beautiful.


This is just before the descent down into Eastbourne (which is hiding behind the bushes). Beachy Head is “behind me”

My ride started a good few hours ago at Hassocks, and had taken me along the top of the South Downs, past Jack & Jill, over Ditchling Beacon, through Southease, up Itford Hill, over Firle Beacon, though the picturesque Alfriston, up and down Wilmington and finally though Jevington and up to the top of the downs again.

My total ride distance for the day was 38 miles with 1450 m of ascent.  Not quite as far as last weekends ride, but with more climbing. I was pretty pleased.  It feels like it was a good few years ago since I had achieved a similar mix of distance and ascent – my longer rides of late have had a number of flat, easy miles at the end to cool down on.

The ground was treacherous in places, with slippery roots and slippery chalk making  traction nigh on impossible in a couple of shaded steep climbs – and it caused several ride stopping wheel slips – but no injuries! While for much of the ride I also had a heavy gusting side wind to contend with – cycling leaning sideways into the wind at 75 degrees was the order of the day. Having said that it was a great ride – slow climbs, nice downhills, and no photos of my wind distorted face looking like Woody’s or Buzz’s.


Blue Sky! Looking over to my destination in the far far distance. This picture was taken between Blackcap and the A27 crossing.


Looking down into the Ouse valley on the way to Southease after climbing back up from the A27.


Back down near sea-level – on the way out of Alfriston towards Wilmington

On the way from Wilmington to Jevington

On the way from Wilmington to Jevington

2015 05 09

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Bristol On Two Wheels

Music by a son of a friend – and it is about cycling!

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Dog please my leg is not your lunch! and MTB etiquette

After a few busy weeks I decided to take the day off and rest on Friday.  Much as I felt it a day wasted it also felt like the right thing to do.  So come Saturday I was semi-refreshed and up for a ride on the paths of the South Downs once again.


The Old Toll Bridge over the Adur – Shoreham – at high tide.

Starting at sea-level I took the path up by the side of Lancing College, around the edge of Lancing Ring and continued up to the intersection with the South Downs Way. From there it was straight up to Chanctonbury Ring.  Normally I would have stopped  at the top of the long gradual climb and admired the view, but not today. I had the bit between my teeth (may be it was the new inhaler I had just got, saving me from panting like an old steam train). On west I travelled, down the steep chalky descent to the A24 crossing, before climbing up again towards Storrington. The ground was pretty hard and my summer tyres felt fine. From there I followed the SDW back down to near sea-level crossing the River Arun.  Back up again and from there it was a series of climbs and descents until just past Cocking.


Follow the white chalk path!

Then I took a left turn, thinking I better head down to Chichester for a train back.  Initially I picked the wrong path and found myself following a forest trail down a very steep section with the only way out being back up the other side (I was starting to feel a bit tired at this point). Then fortune smiled and I took another left turn and found a belting single track section at the edge of West Dene Woods – bliss! Finally, breathless, I hit a quiet  a country lane and then a clear road (and strong headwind) to Centurion Way cycle path into Chi.

All told it was just over 38 miles (c 31 off-road and 7 on tarmac) and an ascent of over 1000m  (equal to climbing Snowdon). I was pretty pleased just two months after being allowed to ride after my hernia op.

2015 05 02

However it was rather testing of my politeness and made me think about  MTB and walkers étiquette?

I normally give walkers and horse riders space and slow down (or stop for some horses), and say hello – but by the end of Saturday’s ride I was wondering if others care.

1) Wide man walking with headphones totally oblivious to the repeated good mornings making it impossible to pass

2) Man with two terriers , he called them in but didn’t have them under control – one ran straight in front of my wheel and then both chased me and one bit my calf

3) Group of five walking towards me – 100m plus visibilty – across almost whole width of path – only left a puddle for me to go through – I slowed but..

4) A group of hikers sitting with rucksacks all across the path – they got up but left their bags in place which was not much help

5) A lady with a dog on a long lead – lady one side of the path, dog on the other – totally oblivious to the obstruction

6) Group of six walking towards me – 100m plus visibilty – across the whole path – only slowly moved as I almost came to a standstill.

Time for a chill pill and Sunday’s wind down ride.


There was some blue sky as I climbed up Blackcap…


Which had totally dissapeared by the time I got upto Ditchling Beacon – as the distorted 270 panoramic shot shows


I then found some Bluebells, and twisty single track with trees spaced almost as closely as my handlebars,  in Stanmer Park.

2015 05 03 b mmr

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Is it spring yet?


Low cloud wafting in from the sea – visbility at the top was down to 100m

Life has been busy recently – maybe I am trying to do too much and pretending I am 20 years younger than I am – but regaining fitness after my 3 month lay-off is hard work – anyway I am putting in the miles and enjoying it – I am trying with each ride to do something new – either a new path, or reversing the direction that I normally go, or trying that tetchy climb that I haven’t quite managed before.

2015 04 18 ce

Just north of Brighton again – 10 days ago – 750m of climbing in just over 15 miles

Saturday week it was the first ascent up Ditchling Deacon (on road) this year – I was the only one on an MTB with mud-tyres amongst quite a few roadies – anyway it didn’t seem half as bad as I remember – probably the effect of riding up the Wrekin off-road – and  that was preceded by the decent down into Westmeston that I haven’t done for years.

Jump a week to last Saturday – somewhat tired and lacking imagination I used the same starting point as the previous Saturday but went west toward Truleigh Hill via  Saddlescombe and Devil’s Dyke instead of east  I found a new route down into Saddlescombe ,and after descending down from Truleigh Hill I re-ascended the Downs up Fulking Escarpment – a route that I had only previously gone down –  I am sure the inclinometer on my old speedo had it at 24% in places.  Anyway going up it was tough and near the top I was defeated by a 50m steep section – tired and steep and loose – I am sure they have mis-spelled the name of the escarpment. And for punishment I did it again on Sunday shaving some 5 to 10 minutes of the time.  Now it is time to take off the Mud-tyres for something a bit easier now the ground is now quite firm.

Post ride I checked the stats from MayMyRide (phone based App) and a Cateye Stealth -comparing the two rides using the two different GPS based systems showed consistent inconsistency yet again.  Below you can compare some of the results – the ascent value of 441m was exactly the same for both rides using MMR yet using the Cateye system it was pretty consistent but c 15% different at 506 to 512m. On distance, MMR had the ride at approx 0.25mile longer at 14.25 miles both times!

IMG_2732 IMG_2733 IMG_2734 IMG_2735

2015 04 25 26 comp mmr

Comparing the two rides using the Cateye web tool – the horizontal axis is Time


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2200 feet and other bike rides

Many miles from home at the top of the Wrekin, Shropshire looking towards Wales.                                                                                    It was a pretty tough climb for an old  Southerner - climbing 240m in 2km off-road.

Many miles from home at the top of the Wrekin, Shropshire looking  South West towards Wales.                                                                           It was a pretty tough climb for an old  Southerner – climbing 240m in 2km off-road straight up.

Near the top of the Wrekin, between Hell's Gate and Heaven's Gate I passed this memorial to the poor man who we witnessed being given emergancy aide some weeks ago - a reminder of how fragile life is and to be careful how hard you push yourself

Near the top of the Wrekin, between Hell’s Gate and Heaven’s Gate, I passed this memorial to the poor man who we witnessed being given emergancy aid some weeks ago – a reminder of how fragile life is and to be careful how hard you push yourself


Back on the South Downs looking towards Brighton and the sea on Tuesday evening. A 15 miles blast after work.


Tuesday night started with a climb upto to Blackcap (Lewes) – I stuttered a couple of times on loose stones and was dissapointed until I rode back down it later on at the end of my ride.


Back at the Wrekin – glorious Shropshire!                                                        I then made the mistake of riding round the Ercall – fantastic fun to start with and then I had to push my bike up an unrideable slippy muddy path for over a mile!


Near the top of the Ercall – not much to see but a fun descent afterwards!


Two old codgers!

"Tour gide for the day" - Out with my dear friend Abdul and his "boys" a couple of weekends ago. A really great ride with a fantastic family!

“Tour gide for the day” – Out with my dear friend Abdul and his “boys” a couple of weekends ago. A really great ride with a fantastic family!

2015 03 29 CE

A blowy seafront ride with Charly (eldest Daughter) very slow outward – blown to a stop several times – but not defeated – wondered what the fuss was as were were blown back on the return leg.  Interesting statistics!

2015 04 14 ce

Out Tuesday evening after a hard day at the office

with  Adbul, Rizwan, Mosheen and Mobeen

with Adbul, Rizwan, Mosheen and Mobeen

2015 04 11

Last Saturday – north of Brighton – yet another ride where the ascent was in the 2200 to 2300 feet band – I seem to have an inbuilt computer that monitors me irrespective of the ride. It was a glorious day and I was chuffed as I manged to ride the ascent out of Saddlescombe east from gate to gate without falter – I thought I would never master the tree-lined section and then the sudden steep twist at the end but hey I made it (grin)


The Wrekin and Ercall

The Wrekin and Ercall



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Which way now?

Looking over to the South Downs I could see they were shrouded in mist, and the rain was starting as I put my bike on the roof carrier. It was time for a rethink.

Eventually I found myself parking in the small Surrey Village of Holmbury St Mary at about 14:00.  HSt.M is nestled in one of the dips in the Surrey Hills AoONB, South West of Dorking, and found by negotiating windy country lanes.  There is not much there; a village green, a church, an inn, a village hall, and some rather secluded houses.

It feels like it must be 5 or 6 years since I had ventured up in to this area.  And I was relying on my memory for the route – it has many paths and a number of man-made trails – and it is easy to get lost.  It is also an important place in the history of my off-road  cycling, as the location of my first, and hopefully only, face plant at speed, 8 years ago. Flying over handlebars is not recommended!


I didn’t escape the mist – but was shielded from the wind

The tracks in this area of the North Downs are distinctly different from the South Downs (some 30 miles to the South).  The ground is quite sandy and the land often wooded. It is , mmm whats the word?  “up and down”  with  little chance of rest while on the move.

The story of the ride is climb, descend, climb, single track wiggles, descend, climb….. cup of tea at Leith Hill Tower, decent, climb, single track, fire road….

It is really great riding country  and there is a multitude of paths with turns to throw your mental compass haywire, hills where you don’t expect them and places that look the same but aren’t, just to get you totally lost.


One of the “man-made” single track paths – my second attempt was much more acceptable



2015 03 28

Just over 14 miles and 670m of ascent – must do better next time



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