The presence of large numbers of hungry G4+ riders looking to get a 'good ride' in before arriving in Puerto Pollenca edged the pace up noticeably but everyone in the group looked strong. There were two parties with Mssrs Bunt, Neal, Vincent and Didon (who both joined us close to Copthorne) leading the line on the front while Francis, Calvin, Tim, David B and Wally kept the 'steady' part going in the second. Everyone re-grouped regularly but it did give those who wanted to give it some beans the chance to open up.
The weather was utterly stonking. Perfect. Sun on the back, after about half an hour very warm, still and ideal for sitting on a quick wheel.
It became clear that Strava would need some processing power on the run in to - and up - Turners Hill. All that post-Christmas training had clearly paid off.
We fair whizzed past Selsfield Common and the South of England showground, fast through Ardingly pausing only briefly at Lindfield before swooping down to Haywards Heath to pick up Gavin then onto the Beacon. For a few riders it was their first ascent of the South Downs beastie but everyone ascended in cheerful and (relatively) speedy fashion.
Thence, down Coldean Lane to Brighton with Wally and Tim taking the alternative course befiting the run that (I think) both have completed in the past when running from London to Brighton.
No-one quite tipped the 50mph mark but a few were mighty close.
On the run down into Brighton, the god of traffic lights was smiling upon the peloton and the additon of new cycle path wiggles that take riders past junctions without having to worry. And other lights all turned green on our approach. A wonderful run in.
At the Regency, we sat out in heat (yes, heat! It was hot!) and quaffed coffees while receiving brown toast, poached eggs and other healthy protein based breakfasty things.
The way back saw more sunshine, more good pace and more friendly sunday morning banter (most in the 'what an amazing day' mould). Wineham and Spronkets lane rolled with Andre and Mark heading off right via Slaugham back to Crawley Down the long way, while the rest of us went left to do the Tulley's Route outward in reverse.
A few legs were tiring by the top of Tower Road but not tired enough not to throw in a final hurrah on the blast from Lambs Green to Hookwood.
Home via Lonesome Lane for 70+ miles at an average closer to 16 than 17 for 4,400ft of climbing.
I think all agreed it was the ride of the year so far, thanks in no small part to the utterly fantastic weather!