Arriving just before midnight on the Dieppe to Newhaven ferry after more than 12 hours sat in the more than 21 bends minibus was probably not the best preparation for the tough puncheur Sportive just outside Brighton on the south coast of England, and it showed on the last climb up the very tough Ditchling Beacon. On getting out of the saddle both my legs cramped forcing me and the cars behind me to come to a grinding halt.
Being a personnel challenge I was chasing that all important gold standard achievement – in this case the magic 4 hour mark.
The event had started for me some 3:56:15 before in the village of Ditchling after registration and a good coffee.
The 66 mile loop took us north towards Tunbridge Wells through the very muddy country lanes of Sussex. A well stocked feed station was provided at the 33 mile point. The feed station was much welcome as due to my late arrival and early start I had not eaten for a while.
The last 30 miles were pretty much ridden alone into a steadily strengthening headwind. With a mile to go Ditchling beacon was signposted and I started my climb (rather gingerly as cramp had set in ) up to the finish line.
To finish the event hot recovery drinks and pasta were provided at the sportive hq.
Overall a great event limited to about 450 riders based in the country lanes north of Brighton. Britain has been in the grip of bad weather for a while so the roads were pretty muddy and beat up. The locals were obviously more prepared for the conditions than me with a vast number of bikes fitted with mudguards.