Friday, 30 December 2016

27/12 Post Xmas Social Ride- High & Over

Our post Xmas ride over ‘high & over’  has now settled into a yearly tradition. This year we had a very good turnout of riders  with a very wide range of ages from Dan in his twenties up to Derek in his sixties.

It was Shirley who had asked me to organise the same ride as last year, so I was surprised when there was no sign of her or her brother Matt at the start! We waited a couple of extra minutes but at 9:13 we were off without them (abandoned riders one and two)

The weather was beautiful with clear blue skies, however even without the wind it was a lot colder than I expected (you know it really is cold when you see me riding with gloves over my fingerless mitts).
A great day to take a few snaps !
Easy steady riding took us along Turkey road and towards Watling. The further inland we rode the colder it became. It was shame we hadn’t had this cold weather on Christmas day as all the surrounding fields were covered in a white frost that looked very picturesque in all the gorgeous sunshine

Alarm bells started to ring on arriving at Horse-walk. This can be a bit treacherous even at the best of times let alone when there is a risk of ice. I concurred with Simon that it would be wise to find an alternative route and shouted out to the others to halt. However, the leading riders had already disappeared around the bend so to avoid splitting up the group I decided we would have to carry on but take it extra slow. Simon didn’t want to take the risk and so abandoned the ride (abandoned rider three).

Horse-walk was white with frost and covered in the usual road debris so I wasn’t surprised I felt my rear tyre deflating. Patrick urged the other riders to carry on and meet us at the Costa café at the Pevensey roundabout while we fixed my puncture. This one was caused by a tiny metal shard that most of the riders who don’t have myopia would never have been able to see. It was so small it was impossible to dig out of the rubber, all I could do was to blunt the end with a tube valve and hope for the best.

By the time we had caught up with the others at the café they were well entrenched and were happily ordering more coffee and snacks. Derek in particular had been suffering with the cold and needed some more time to warm up. I therefore thought it best to make this our official coffee stop rather than the one at Alfriston. Gary was frustrated at the lack of progress and despite me telling him this would be our only stop, he decided to quit the ride (abandoned rider number four). While stopped I had chance to read a message from Shirley. She had been late (again!) and decided to meet us at the De La war but had read the gpx the wrong way around, we would be passing there on the way back!

Suitably refreshed we got back on route and before long reached Alfriston where we had a quick pee stop to relieve ourselves of some of that earlier coffee. Another text message from Shirley revealed that they had left Alfriston about ten minutes earlier so I advised her to stick to the route so that we should catch-up with her before Beachy Head.

All smiles on High & Over!
Hi and Over is an awesome climb, longer than Battery Hill, although not quite as steep. Being a bit out of shape at the moment I was not surprised to come last but hopefully the others did not have to wait to long for me? On reaching the top we found out that Johnny had  abandoned with a puncture at Alfriston. This was a shame as we would have happily stayed with him to fix it if we had known but Johnny had said he didn’t want to hold up the group any further (abandoned rider number five) and had phoned home for a pick up.

Like me Malc is glad Xmas is over!
Just two massive climbs lay between us and refreshments at Beachy Head. First up was the climb up past Cuckmere Haven . The road here was resurfaced a couple of years ago and so this was an absolute pleasure to ride. After a quick regrouping, we hit the slopes of the Beachy Head climb. In the sunshine this climb was even more enjoyable than normal. One of the things I like most about it is that with all the switchbacks you can see all the riders strung out ahead. Derek and I had our own competition to see who would be last, I won! Reaching the pub I was pleased to see the familiar sight of Shirley’s bike propped up outside. Half our party now headed for home but the rest of us headed inside for some well-deserved refreshments.

Having arranged to meet up with the others at The Rocksalt at Bexhill , I was content to stay with Shirley and Matt for the remainder of the route. This was fortuitous as Matt’s front tub started to deflate. We pumped it up but as soon as the pump was taken off, the valve core came out as well. In the end we had to leave the extension hose on the valve, leaving it to flap around. This got Matt to Bexhill but by then the problem had got worse and sadly Shirley and Matt would have to abandon the chance of more drinks at Rocksalt and walk home instead.

Many thanks to all who came out and made it such a fun day. I expect we will do the same ride next year although I will replot the route to avoid Horse-walk for 2107.
Safe riding in 2017!

Steve C

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