Pleasant Valleys Sunday

Fancy a short cx ride tomorrow? Nothing serious, just pissing about.

Sounds good, yeah.

Tilt at Fiveways at 9.30 good for you?

Yep. See you there dude.

Where we gonna go then?

Was thinking Stanmer via the golf course, singletrack and bluebells, up to the Beacon, along the ridge, down to back of Falmer, Uni Singletrack, Castle Hill, South Downs Way round Kingston Ridge, Yellow Brick Road, Shit Farm, Telscombe Tye, Hidden Valley.

Cool…

Where’s the pub stop today

Erm, we can drop into Lewes and to the Snowdrop…oh hang on, the Abergavenny in Rodmell is pretty much on the route.

I’ve not been to the Abergavenny. Ridden past it loads, never stopped.

There then.

Just had a thought, for extra silly we could drop down Streat Bostal, loop around the back of Plumpton on the bridleways and back up Plumpton Bostal.

Yeah alright.

We can still get to Uni Singletrack. A few options to get down there.

OK, but then rather than do cyclepath up to Woodingdean we could do South Downs Way climb.

Oh man, that’s a right old grind of a climb

Yeah, but the Falmer cyclepath is boring

Yeah, OK. If we’re going to do that though let’s do the South Downs Way from top of Plumpton Bostal all the way round to Kingston Ridge. I’ve not been that way for a while.

Thought of some more silly. Down steep Kingston, up not-so-steep Kingston.

We doing Cream Egg?

Wasn’t going to, but we could. Down this side of Swanborough Hill and back up Cream Egg?

Oh man, yeah! We could do the Double W.

What’s that?

Do all that and then turn around and do it all in reverse.

That’s just fucking stupid. You’re such an idiot. No. Yellow Brick Road. Pub.

Which way we going back?

Um… we can do the track from here down to the river and along to Southease, up through Shit Farm, over Tye into Hidden Valley, loopy climb back into Brighton. Or past the Youth Hostel, up Itford Hill, down Broken Road, through Glynde…

Trevor Arms?

No. Up Mount…

Trevor Arms?

No. Up Mount Caburn

Can you ride it? I’ve never been up there.

Let’s do that then, it’s a bit steep but the view is amazing. The Downs from a totally different angle.

Cool. We’ve got time for another pint though?

Yeah.

Hophead?

Yeah. Ta.

Those two white paths over there, is that Kingston Ridge?

Yeah, and that’s Cream Egg over there.

Fuck, it looks well severe from this angle!

And that dark peak over there is Black Cap, we’ll go back that way. Right over there in the haze, I think that lump is Ditchling Road and the golf course where we started out.  We can see pretty much our whole ride from up here.

I can’t work out where we are.

That’s Lewes race course, the prison is down behind us.

Ah, so Offham is down there?

Yeah, and the A27 is down in there somewhere. Don’t try and ride this in winter though, it’s an absolute bogfest. That beacon you can see up ahead, that’s Mount Harry.

Oh yeah, OK I get where we are.

Take the path to the right and once around the trig point or it doesn’t count…

Disco Inferno? Then Uni Singletrack?

Yep

Fancy a Grubbs burger? There’s one on Lewes Road.

Yep. Oh hang on, Trollburger might be open, not sure if they’re open Sundays…Yes! They’re open. Best non-dirty dirty burger in town. Organic, all locally sourced.

Cool. Don’t know it, I’ll follow you…

 

Stats
Distance: 80km
Hills: Lots
Time out and about: the best part of 10 hours
Time actually riding: about half of that
Number of pints: Eight (3 x Darkstar Hophead, 3 x Darkstar American Pale Ale, 2 x Long Man Pale Ale)
Packets of Crisps: Six (Ready Salted)
Burgers: Two (Trollburger, Smokey Mountain)

Disclaimer: Some of the place names used won’t be found on official maps.

Photos with me in them by George

North Country

Heading south to pay a visit to the north country. Drifting off the ferry in a sleep-deprived daze and heading up the hill on autopilot. Riding in a puddle of light and easy familiarity in the silent blackness, red lights blinking atop the wind turbines I can’t see, beacons out across the coastal plateau. Knowing when to change down and when that corner tightens more than expected. Almost riding into a ditch whilst distracted by the sound of turbine blades cutting the dark air above. Birdsong and the smell of rape colours in the black. Light eases into the sky as the lanes become unfamiliar on the way to somewhere familiar. A bakery open early, one pastry eaten on the corner, the other tucked in a pocket for later.

Riding a fault line between clay and chalk. Recognisable features and spiraling skylark song, the same as home but different. The pays de Bray and the pays de Caux. Mud and lime. Twisting sharp climbs and flowing waves of downland. A hare gallops through a field, following a cropped line. An owl launches itself across my path and glides low and disguised against the brown earth, it sweeps into the trees on the field’s edge, dislodging a couple of startled pigeons.

Riding between church spires and dog bark tag. Scrap yards and derelict barns. Hot chocolate at half distance. It turns a bit Belgian spring classic as I ride between fields into a wall of drizzle and headwind. I even find a bridge of cobbles. An impromptu coffee stop in a sad looking town, a closed fun fair on the main street. Primary colours vibrate against damp grey. A man smokes a cigarette under the café canopy whilst the kid from the dodgems orders a morning beer. A solitary carousel spins its tune into an air of melancholy and rain.

The route corkscrews around the hills, in and out of valleys and through the forest. The same place names appear on signposts, the direction and distances changing: The ebb and flow of a convoluted and twisting route. In and out of the wind. Wattle and dawb houses indicate what lies below my wheels on this side of the river. Legs tire over the final climbs as sun breaks through the cloud. I swoop through farmland to the valley floor to spin the last few kilometres back to the port.

Route

March TCR Prep

1090 kilometres, 12,200 metres of climbing

Fast long road commutes & cyclocross squiggles across the South Downs. A lot of ‘the long way home’.

A day tilting at windmills with friends.

An afternoon off work and being hammered by the wind over the Downs.

A 200km lap of Kent.

Route plotting, tweaking, re-tweaking, and submitting of DIY audaxes for April and May.

A recovery weekend of sunshine, napping on the beach along the coast, and a short morning ride that turned into a short all day ride with a lot of stops just because it was sunny and warm.

A lot of headwinds.

Custom made luggage arrived from Wildcat Gear

Transcontinental frame back from the sprayers and ready to be built.