Thought I would put this in here as it was an Audax.
I just did the Hailsham 600km Audax this weekend it has also been reffered to as the Hillsham 600 and the Rainsham 600 because it was fekkin hilly and it pissed down with rain for the most of it.
The Rainsham 600
Well 600km is always going to be tough, but in shite weather it can only be harder, after my wheelbuilding Friday night I was all set and a quick group photo at the start we all set off.
Stage 1 Hailsham to Cowfold
Just out of the car park and I realize my speedo isn't working, I had left the magnet off a quick rummage and grab the spare out of my saddlebag and we're off, it seemed like no time at all and Mark Heffer was coming back with rear mech problems hoping to nip home and get a spare bike.
Soon enough we were climbing High and Over to Alfriston, I remember shouting to Martin our team photographer, "It's called High and Over when is it going to be bloody over"
Along the coast road through Brighton to Shoreham by Sea the drizzly rain started, still fairly warm but enough to stop and waterproof up for the remainder of gently rolling section to the Chalet Cafe at Cowfold, two bacon baguettes and some tea
Stage 2 Cowfold to Brightling
Another rider Allistair joined Mike and myself for a fair bit of the way and was soon taking short video clips of Mike and myself ascending and descending the hills on fixed Smiley after all there were enough of them, allthough there was a slight detour off the B2096 to avoid Carricks Hill at Dallington, except "Oh hang on there's another one to go up and around it"
All pain is forgotten as we head to Brightling and see that little Ranndonneurs oasis, that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is El Supremo's trailer and tent set up for a food stop The rain had stopped by now but it was still quite cool.
Stage 3 Brightling to Dingeeness Dungeness
Allthough this section was fairly flat by comparison there was an annoying headwind to make it uncomfortable we rode with Arabella and MattC for some of this down to the Light Railway Cafe at Dingeeness
I had to laugh as we locked up our bikes a couple of riders in 'Kernow & South West' tops were on the phone and describing where they were;
[K&SW rider] "what's it like, it's like the ar5ehole of the world and it's only redeeming feature is a Nuclear bloody power station"
I had a Full English breakfast here If I'm burning fat I've gotta put some back in haven't I
Stage 4 Dingeeness to World of Water at Rolvenden
The first bit out of Dingeeness was in to a headwind and was a real slog on a full belly, we caught up with Allistair again and rode out of the flat stuff to some more gently rolling hills and an Info control at Bonnington, try as we might none of the riders coming back from it would reveal the answer
Another 20km of rolling roads and we were at World of Water cafe where all we had to do was give them our name and number for pre ordered food, another bacon baguette and apple pie and custard
Allthough dry it was starting to get cooler so I opted to put my longs on now rather than stop halfway between controls as it would start getting dark on this next section.
Stage 5 World of Water to Lewes
Some familiar hilly bits for us around here as we headed out via Goudhurst, Lamberhust and Frant, the drizzly rain started again and due to the time we opted for the second choice control at Cross in Hand to get a receipt from the Esso garage 12km before Lewes as the Tesco would be shut before we got there, or just about to as it happened.
An attack of the dozies along here had me wobbling about so I shouted to Mike when I spotted a suitable bus shelter and just shut my eyes for 10 minutes, it makes all the difference.
Stage 6 Lewes to Pease Pottage
A different but nicer route out of Lewes (I might use that for the 400 next year) As we turned in to the B2116 the heavens opened up and pretty much stayed open for the rest of the ride, I stopped and put my 'Rainlegs' on.
Up until now the ride had been pretty much normal for hilliness slightly more than usual but not to bad it was Spronkett's Lane in Warninglid that changed this 8km according to the route sheet probably as the crow flies but if you took out the hills and layed tit out flat I reckon it would be double that, this lane was bloody hard work a series of short steep climbs and descents in the dark Mike who was following me said that it wasn't how far in front of him I was that concerned him but how much higher than him my rear lights were
At Pease Pottage the cafeteria was littered with sleeping cyclists a scene akin to news item showing a temporary shelter for refugees from a natural disaster somewhere
Rather than sleep in wet clothes I found a hand dryer in the gents toilets and spent approx 15 minutes drying out all my layers of clothing and felt much more comfortable for it a couple of cups of coffee and a sarnie then an hours kip, only disturbed temporarily by the rustle of space blankets and some woman shouting out;
"Kin'ell whats this? you all do-in London to Brighton or summink" which as any fule knows is the only bike ride in existence
The best news here was seeing Mark Heffer come in he had got his spare bike and gaffa taped "that is literally not a euphemism" gaffa taped some lights and a rack pack on to it and caught us up, "Chapeau that man"
Stage 7 Pease Pottage to Halfway Bridge
Into the cold early hours and drizzle and some more hills to sap the legs, quite short this section to another El Supremo snack wagon stop, no real shelter from the cold in a lay by but Sabine & Dave and his other helpers did us proud.
Sabine's soup was excellent and really hit the mark warming me up another short nap and we set off before getting too cold.
Cold wet gloves my pet hate on a wet ride, it is just horrible setting off feeling cold and wet knowing that it will be a few miles before you warm up at all
Stage 8 Halfway Bridge to Sutton Scotney
Cold and wet at dawn the coldest part of the day setting off into rain Lips Sealed we were barely ten km down the road when an attack of the dozies struck again also Sabines soup was err repeatedly hitting the mark so we spotted another bus shelter to stop for another 20 minutes kip and let everything settle down
This section was bloody tough, I hate the roads in and out of Winchester, I suffer from the Randdonneur version of Legionnaire's disease, otherwise known as cycling up and down the bloody straight Roman roads in and out of Winchester
Mike's fixedwheel bike threw the chain off descending the last hill to Sutton Scotney and luckily for both of us went outside instead of in and didn't lock up
Sutton Scotney services options were limited to a choice of garage, Burger King or Little Thief Chef, we opted for the Little Chef a Bacon panninie & chips washed down with tea, I tried the old hand dryer trick in the toilets but by now everything was so wet and cold that it just wasn't happening and I had to make do with cold and damp
Stage 9 Sutton Scotney to Halfway Bridge
The last stage was tough and we were heading back in a similar if not completely different way so it was going to be tough as well.
Allthough there were less Roman roads and there long drags dissappearing to the distance there were lots of short sharp steep lanes.
These lanes were rideable on fixed but just to steep to get any rhythm going so even as the road levelled out the legs were so drained you couldn't take advantage of it.
The route sheet warned of gravel in the roads and sure enough some of it found it's way in to Mikes tyres, first a rear wheel fairee attack then a short while later a front wheel, the only good thing about this section was a slight respite from the rain.
Shortly before Dave's control was a short steep climb that was just beyond my tired legs a R@T $ Midhurst in between Lickfold and Lodsworth, my only walk of the ride for 100 yards.
Here is where we first saw the scareysceneryometer with 8250 meters written next to it and a profile graph that looked like the dental records for a Tyrannosaurus Rex This figure was later adjusted to the 5000 m Mark but still alot more than the quoted 3000m.
Stage 10 Halfway Bridge to Pyecombe
Once more into the rain we set off.
Predominantly less climbing than earlier but still enough short sharp hills to slow the pace, even so we made a good start to this section until we turned into the wind and the rain got heavier slowing us right down to a crawl, so much so that a petrol garage never seemed so alluring.
We stuffed our faces with fig rolls and milk and set off for the final 39km
Final stage 11 Pyecombe to Rainsham Hailsham
A short climb up the cycle path with a short sharp sting in the tail that I had to ride being watched by a group of men and women on MTBs I was not going to walk in front of them
This was a different route for me on some hills roads I had not ridden before and allthough soaked to the skin the scent of the finish pulled us in.
The heavens did there best to stop us really dumping the rain down so hard it was at times stinging against our faces, the heaviest downpour of the ride, but we knew it was only a short way to the finish
We rolled in to finish about 8.55pm so despite an actual slower riding speed it was my first sub 40 hour 600 I put this to being so cold I was reluctant to hang around at controls and ironic that had it been warmer I might have been out of time? who knows.
A few familiar faces at the end Martin greeting us in, the floor in the sports center was absolutely soaked.
Congratulations all that finished and commiserations to those that didn't.
Man of the day had to be Mark Heffer to overcome bike problems hobble together a spare and the ride what amounts to a 35 hour 600km in those conditions was excellent Chapeau young sir
One downside to the ride a friend called Barry was purposely pushed off by a van passenger on the A272 section and injured his hip and could not carry on this has also prevented him qualifying for PBP, evil bastards.
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