Well, the forecast was for rain, and rain was what we got. From showers in the car park to a sneaky flurry catching everyone who had taken off waterproofs for the first climb and torrential downpours before the tea stop, we had a good mix.
There was plenty of water on the ground too- our first wander off the South Downs Way involved puddles well over the tops of boots. Wet socks were the order of the day, although Graham was determined to make the best of it and took advantage of a double puncture to squeeze his socks dry, to some amusement.
Progress along the SDW was halted short of Devil's Dyke, where we took a steep path to the base of the downs. Nowhere near as lethal as wet chalk can be, just great fun. Heading round the road to Saddlescombe we were caught in that torrential rain at the same time as getting another puncture, so we pushed on to fix it at the tea stop in the dry.
We weren't supposed to stop for cake until the return leg through, but everyone was wet and cold, so it seemed the thing to do. Refuelled, we split in two, with some taking the direct route home while others came with me for a slightly shortened version of the original loop.
Off the SDW, across the A23, skirting Wolstonbury Hill on a ridiculously muddy track, then another cracking descent to Clayton. That needed to be paid back with the long winch up to the Jack and Jill Windmills, after which we turned along the SDW for home. The weather, which had been kind for an hour or more, really closed in climbing up Devil's Dyke, and stayed that way until Truleigh Hill, where it lifted just enough for a fantastic view below the clouds. One final fast, slippery descent and we were back at the cars, with everyone working out how they were going to get home without leaving half of Sussex in the footwell.
It was wet, yes, it was cold, yes, but the company was good, the tea stop was great and the trails were fun, so I'm chalking it up as a win.