Tuesday, 19 February 2013

South Downs Way, Amberley to QE Park

As autumn drew in we felt the need for a new challenge, with no September France trip or a trip to Wales riding motivation was low, what could we do? Well living on the south coast the obvious answer was to do a larger part of the South Downs Way! The plan was to catch the train to Amberly and cycle back to Queen Elizabeth Country Park, then road it back to Denmead, easy...?

On Friday the 16th of November I set off at 7:30am to meet up with Florance on top of Ports Down Hill, from there we rode down to Havant to meet Greg and Pritchard. The train bit was dead easy; one change at Barnham saw us arrive at a very murky Amberley.

We headed out of the station full of enthusiasm and swiftly found ourselves on the South Downs Way, and then we climbed... And climbed.... And climbed! The heavy mist gave us a 50ft bubble giving no indication of our location, and worse making it difficult to read the terrain and set a proper pace on the climbs. The ground was also incredibly wet, making the terrain very draggy and lowering the pace.

First puncture of the day went to Pritchard as we exited Slindon estate by Bell's Bench. 

We solider on and actually start enjoying the ride as we head down in to Cocking. Here we wait for Pritchard to catch up, it's been a while so Florance mans up and goes to look for him. When they both return Pritchard has thrown the towel in, he is beaten, and he has arranged to be picked up. It's a massive shame, we all new it would be hard and we really wanted to complete together. We now press on as a three...

Our next goal is Harting, an area we know well but getting there is hard. I notice Greg's front tyre is hissing but we press on and make Harting Down before it needs fixing.

As we reach the end of the down as massive wave of relief covers us, we are now on familiar territory, we know these hills, there is light at the end of the tunnel.Finally we reach QE Park, unfortunately it's just turned 4pm and the cafe is shut, so we push on to the Hampshire Hog for some emergency peanuts.

From here its road back via Clanfield, it now hurts so much I’m riding on auto-pilot and we get back to Denmead at
5pm.What a day, certainly not enjoyable like a summer evening blast. It was a challenge like no other, I can honestly say it was the hardest ride I have ever done.

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