Always nice to see a real mix of abilities riding together on a social ride - that's what it's all about. And today was a great example: we had G5s Charl, Richard F and the two new Chris's alongside mid to upper ranking stalwarts John H, Howard and Terry with David T, Jane and Ian S representing the G2 - 3 end. Oh, and Nick... representing the concertina effect... "he's at the front, no, he's at the back... "etc
The route out to Wych Cross is fairly long and undulating. The short Tulleys route out through Leigh and Rusper, up Tower Road, Pease Pottage then past High Beeches (where Bellers bid us adieu to whizz home) before a right down to Balcombe. After that, it's the double reservoir heart monitor challenge. Not everyone had experienced the pair of MHR busting short sharp climbs around the Ardingly reservoirs but no matter.. the group was well-behaved waiting at the top of each section to regroup before heading on.
Next up, Horsted Keynes and Danehill before turning up towards Wych Cross and Llamas. Or should I say Llama.
Our arrival at the teastop caused a few elderly, llama-rug-on-the-knees types to stir their Earl Grey a little faster... I don't think they see Lycra in these parts that often. Proper food was ordered - large baked potatoes and giant bacon sarnies. There was some horror at the price of an official llama viewing £6.50... but with a little stealth work we manage to sneak behind a bush and find the vantage point in the photo. A real llama... and free... there... in the distance.
After waiting 5 minutes for a gap in the suddenly busy traffic we nipped back to Wych Cross and right to sample the utter joy of the descent down Colemans Hatch Road through the forest. Gorgeous views plus good friends and a warm morning. What could be sweeter?
As I always say, for every ounce of descent however, there's a pound of climbing so it then took a bit of leg-wakening as we turned off to Butcherfield Lane and another undulating section.
At the Holtye junction, it took someone to point out to Nick that his back tyre was totally flat which gave everyone a chance to have a breather and a natter. All fixed (however, it either made him faster or slower because we lost him soon after) it was on to Cowden before a left at the Queens Head and swoop down the Hartfield Road.
It's funny how the longer the ride, the further out the point where you think ' nearly home' is. For me it was Marsh Green today. Again, any quicker riders still strong to forge ahead waited at each junction (impeccable manners all, thank you!) keeping the group together to the point where folk split off towards home.
In total, close to 4000ft of ciimbing and a average - as billed - under 15mph but I should say that this was pretty darned impressive given the climbing. Jane and Ian both proved to themselves they can do a longer, lumpier ride perfectly well and rode superbly all morning.
Cheers to everyone for a great morning out. We were back a little after 2.30pm but we can prove we found a llama!