If being on England’s newest national park, the South Downs wasn’t enough to lift our hearts, the warm autumn sunshine definitely completed the job.
Although the chalky clay surface was rather muddy after a full night of rain, 19 of us made good progress through the first part of the 24 mile loop towards Ditchling Beacon. After crossing the road and riding over boggy grass, the views towards the North Downs near Plumpton were breathtaking. I wondered if everyone had noticed, there was lots of heavy breathing and looking at front tyres!
After a tricky climb through the woods at Balmer Down we get a first look at the ridge in the far distance, our destination. The sun was low in the sky and cast long shadows over the contours of the land, adding to the attraction of the landscape.
Long grinding hills are the name of the game here and one of the best is up Newmarket Hill where we can look down onto Lewes. After a very slippery descent from the Downs and a ride through Lewes town, we rode up a very steep cobbled street which took us to the tea stop.
The ride out of Lewes, past the prison is the start of a 4.5mile climb, hard enough in the dry, but with all that mud, made the job almost impossible. The group split up, sensing the Plough at Pyecombe beckoning, some made a dash for home, leaving stragglers and those with gears lost in the mud to limp back. Thanks to Steve for back marking, and well done to Sandra who started the ride with half her gears missing!