For the last three years Paul who owns Brighton bike shop Rule 5 Bikes has organised a fifty(ish) mile RoadOffRoad ride to celebrate the end of summer. A mix of bridleways, farm tracks, lanes, and stupid bostal climbs to be tackled on whatever bike you feel is best suited, which means no bike is truly suitable for all of the route. Beer stops are pretty much mandated, and it finishes at a pub where there is food, more beer, and Paul raffles off any old stock he needs to get rid of. I’ve couldn’t make the first two, in 2015 I was doing Jo‘s Happy 200 (but we bumped into the Summer Send-Off on the Downslink bridge over the Adur as we headed to Soper’s Lane) and last year I was either doing Ventoux three times or manning the Seaford control of Audax Club Hackney’s Greenwich Mean Climb, but this year I finally made it (after scrapping the idea to attempt the Hailsham 600 again. That SR badge will have to wait another season).
I was supposed to be riding with a few other friends but a couple had to bail at the last minute and Oli decided he wanted a fast ride so said he was going to see “how it goes with these youngsters” indicating towards some riders indeed younger than us. So I rode with Rich, after we’d had a coffee around the corner from Rule 5 and hence left about 20 minutes after everyone else, and we had a very pleasant bimble and chat around a slightly tweaked route. Rich was on a 29er and I was on my CX bike so I’d changed the route slightly to be as off road as possible whilst still hitting all of the controls – you get given a brevet card at the start to prove you rode the route, just like with an audax except that the brevet doesn’t get you points. Or anything come to think of it….sorry, you get a patch but I’m not sure you have to get all the answers right for that even. It’s sort of like an audax but shorter and slacker and with no time cuts. So not actually like an audax at all other than you need to carry a pen.
We bumped into a bunch of other riders, including friends Simon, Stu, and Helen, at the second info control and rode with them for a bit, then diverted to our more off-road route down the middle of Devil’s Dyke, and then bumped into the all again either on Truleigh Hill or on the South Downs Way near the Adur where we also caught Oli and the youngsters fixing a puncture whilst cracking open cans of beer that had been stashed in a bar bag. Simon joined me and Rich from here. We headed off up the South Downs Way past Pigopolis and back down into Steyning where we stopped at the tea rooms. Oli’s ‘fast group’ arrived after us and went straight to the pub. This was the last I saw of them until the pub in the evening. The tortoises and the hares.
The rest of our ride consisted of a chunk of Downslink, a blast along tarmac to Hassocks for a quick coffee stop at Proper, and then the South Downs Way past the Jack and Jill windmills (last visited on Rule 5 Bikes’ Windmolen Achtervlogen ride in the spring) to the top of Streat Bostal where Paul was waiting with beer hand-ups. Rich, Simon, and I went our separate ways at this point due to differing plans for the evening. I sat and chatted in the sunshine for a while before smashing down Disco Inferno (not the name of this bridleway you’ll find on any maps) to the back of Sussex Uni and over Castle Hill back home to get washed and changed for the pub in the evening. A cracking day out on the bike.