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