Ming reports from a world of a timed ride in the name of a good cause
2014 Cystic Fibrosis Charity Ride/Race from Ditchling Beacon to Seaford
PAIN, not enough oxygen, leg muscles protesting, heart pounding like a jack hammer, must keep pedalling, keep the bike upright, bloody hell this is hard work and we’ve not even got to New Market Hill yet!
Fifteen minutes earlier Team Muddy@rse was standing on a bleak and windswept Ditchling Beacon ready to start the third Cystic Fibrosis Charity Ride. It was the usual eclectic mix of teams out for a nice ride on B.S.O.’s too some very fit people on some serious race spec machinery looking to take the title off team Muddy@rse (not sure looking at Strava the night before checking competitors weekly ride totals was a good thing for my nerves).
Lining up for team Muddy@rse was Tez, Timmyb, Steve62, Baby Gixxer (aka Little Rick) and I. Last team to roll as we won last year, no pressure then! We got the go to start and off we went, the pace from the off was relentless, flying across the tops of the Downs trying vainly to hide from a cross/headwind that plagued every team and made you feel so slow. Halfway to the turn down towards the A27 the team got split by of all things and articulated lorry! It trundled slowly along the SDW stirring up all the puddles which then stank. Finally the truck turned into a field and we accelerated again before turning down hill.
Again the cursed head wind struck seemingly robbing all speed. We began overtaking teams leap frogging them at gates before a short nasty muddy climb that saw everybody jump off and push. No chance to rest, lungs still heaving, Steve and I really struggled with the fast pace as we pushed up the hill but egging each other on, if we could swear that meant we weren’t pushing hard enough!
A quick blast down to the A27 and across the bridge to the horror that is New Market Hill! Steve nearly had a comedy clipped in pedal moment at the first turn but luckily humiliation was averted and up we went, another short muddy push and we were out onto exposed downland. Here we met Team Yellow T-Shirt who were taking things at a more laid back pace and had stopped for a cigarette break! A quick stop to lose a layer and the climbing began. Up ahead Tez and Timmyb looked like they were on a Sunday bimble, apart from the rate at which they were overhauling people up the hill! We slogged up the hill cursing the wind and the hill, getting stretched out with Tez and Timmyb in front with Little Rick bridging the gap back to myself and Steve.
Once at the top and after a bit of heckling Steve and I began to recover from the start and we shot across to the concrete road passing another team fixing a puncture, again the wind sapped our speed, being nearly a full minute slower this time compared to last year. A bit of gate management and we were all back together for the Mill Farm DH, roaring down the hill determined to be first, passing a cyclo cross bike I missed him going over the bars as he tried stopping for the gate (no injuries apart from pride).
We whizzed along the farm access road and climbed up to cross the Kingston Road when disaster struck! PUNCTURE! Timmyb had a flat rear, Tez dragged Steve on and Rick went to hold a gate. Wheel off, tubleless wasn’t sealing so tyre popped off and checked very carefully to make sure we weren’t going to puncture the new tube. It seemed like every team we had passed was overtaking us! Nothing found so we double checked, fitted the tube, some brisk pumping, refitting and off we went.
Collecting Rick just before Itford Hill, sucking on a gel and painfully warming up now cold legs and lungs the pain began anew. Timmyb shot off to catch the lead two leaving Little Rick to haul the Old Dog (me) up his most hated and windswept hill. Every time I got on his back wheel he’d look over his shoulder and with wicked grin accelerate a bit so I’d have to keep up. On this went to the Radio Masts with that thrice cursed headwind making itself felt again as we descended to Bo-Peep passing people all the way with the sun beginning to break through the torn clouds.
My heart was saying we’d lost due to the puncture but this is a race so never give up, set a new target, this time sub 2hrs and aim for that. Some slightly deranged calculations from what my Garmin was telling me said that this was possible….just. So with renewed vigour and hitting the vaguely downhill bridleway to Seaford we span as hard as possible, passing more teams and collecting Timmyb before another bout of headwind on the last few exposed fields before picking up the road back to Seaford.
Here the evil grin appeared again with a “latch onto me” comment Little Rick was off in Team Time Trial mode. Leading the three of us along the road, head down, lungs heaving, lactic acid coursing through our legs we pedalled for all our worth to the finish where Steve and Tez were waiting. Two hours dead!
After a coffee and rest we awaited the results….2nd place. A bit disappointed but vowing to be back on top next year we left to drop Steve back at Ditchling, driving home from there I got a text from Little Rick saying we’d won. After a few more hurried texts it turned out that after checking Strava times and start and finish sheets there’d been a maths error and we were first by 5 minutes!
Back again next year, no pressure……………..
Many thanks to Clint and all his helpers for organising a superb event, all the sponsors for prizes and food etc and finally to all the teams from the very fast One Speeders and the other fit teams for keeping us honest to those just out to do a sponsored charity event.
Special mention to Mrs Ming for ferrying duties.
…….and Team Yellow T-Shirts, three of which were last seen on the Alfriston Road pushing towards Seaford!