Sunday, 12 October 2014

Old Ports - Eastbourne Weekend

As the Indian summer finally gave way to Autumn proper it was time for the Old Ports Eastbourne Weekend. Billed as a detraining ride, it is an easy going and indulgent weekend that gently closes the door on the formally competitive cycling season. I had to miss the group ride down on Friday, but Gary and I girded our loins in the face of dreadful weather forcasts and set out to join the gang at Jevington on Saturday.

Gary has put me in charge of navigation (in the land of the blind....) so it we took possibly the least picturesque route via the B2026 to the foot of the Ashdown. Ok simple pleasures. The climb to the top of the Ashdown Forest via Chuck Hatch is probably one of my favourite climbs, regardless of the season. Have done it against iron grey skies, in warm sunshine and with rain so hard I had long reached terminal wetness. But every time it has been a pleasure. After that we followed my time trialing nose onto the A22 for a frankly unpleasant ride to Hailsham. What is tolerable for a TT as 6.30 on a Sunday morning, is darn right nasty at 12.00 on a Saturday. Once off the A roads we had navigation challenge. Given that between us we had two Garmins and Two Iphones but still ended up asking for directions from a man who was carrying a large tyre across the road, probably says something not good about us.

Anyway we reached the 8 Bells in Jevington to be welcomed into the bosom of our club mates, and the worlds smallest portion of battered cod. We had enjoyed a mild and dry ride, they had been treated to a good soaking which to be honest I was quite smug about. As ever is was great catching up with people and meeting a few new faces (Joe and Terry - great to meet you.)

Now, Terry seemed very chipper and full of beans and as we rode back to Beachy Head had plenty of zip in his legs. I had 50 odd miles in mine, but was still impressed. It was only later he explained that he hadn't actually ridden down on Friday. He had been feeling a bit poorly so brought his bike down in his cab. So, he managed the sum total of 25 miles on a cycling club weekend away. Gold star for Terry. The upside was he drove our bags back so I shouldn't complain too much.

The return over the Ashdown coincided with a vintage truck event which meant I got to enjoy lung fulls of exhaust fume nostalgia as I slogged up to the garden centre, where Say rode out to meet us. Now the cafĂ© at the garden centre does lovely coffee and a tasty tuna baguette, and the people who work there are delightful, but as we arrived one of the staff said 'I forgot you were coming.' The place was full and we knew that this meant we were in for a long wait. My previous visit had resulted on a 45 minute wait for a coffee and a sandwich a record that today they were striving to beat. To add insult to injury once Bash had got the final mouthful of his coffee down, we were asked to note that people were waiting for our table and could we sling our hook. erm thanks for that.

Mentions in dispatches - Michael 'Dion' Howe if you could climb like you can descend the world would be your oyster. Joe C- great to meet you, strong ride. Vino - looking stronger than ever, off the front yes, not so much out the back anymore, and thanks for stopping me and Say ploughing off in the wrong direction. Alan - looking good, getting stronger on the uphills all the time. Julian, a man whose overshoes will inherit the earth, and big thanks to Bashers for making the whole thing work and herding that the cats that are the Old Ports.

After peeling off at Edenbridge, Say, Gary and me arrived at the top of Clarkes Lane in time to see the awesome David Millar heading to start his final race. Nice little end to the day. Made it back home in time to watch the rain start. Excellent stuff.