Despite 80 or more club rides in two years, the Ashdown Forest had remained my personal "Terra incognita" until last weeks epic G3 with John Houghton.
To discover more, I borrowed a large chunk of next month's "Redhill CC YMCA Sportive" Route for this weeks ride. With eleven ready to go, we headed south to Smallfield. Downlands and Effingham Lanes kept us off the busier roads before the run up to Turners Hill and the rapid blast past Ardingly. Carl and Wayne joined G3 for the first time, and it was clear we had a well matched group, with regualrs Ian, Dave B, David G and Meera. Average speed to this point was close to 18mph and only Keith had trailed up Turners Hill (benefitting from some Guinness-loading therapy). Now we were onto the undulating lanes of the Sportive route where Terry impressed as he whooshed past pushing big gears on the climbs. Carl headed back early from Danehill, while we headed for the longest climb to Chelwood Gate. Crossing the A22 then over the cattle grids and a spot of sheep dodging. John H and Stuart led the pack down Black Hill - a 500ft descent over 2 miles, 43mph top speed, quite a rush. After an excellent tea stop at The Pantry in Hartfield, we headed back via Dormansland, Lingfield, Newchapel and Smallfield, with riders peeling off as we approached the airfield. Thanks to all for the great company, 52 miles, 2800ft of climbing, 15.7mph average.