Club Ride Report: Around the Downs, UP and Back Down Again. June 2009

30 06 2009

After assembling at the car park the ride started with a warmup along some gentle trails and cycle paths leading to the first bit of singletrack at the base of Wolstonbury hill.


Until recently this area had been a no go area, even for horses, due to the underly soil being thick treacly clay to a depth of several feet, but thanks to West Sussex county council the diggers had been in for us and the clay replaced with a hard pack riding surface. It was possible to enjoy a mud free ride around the hill towards the A23 – well done WSCC and apart from the two horses we met I’d say we were the first to use this section.

Of course whilst this route means you can avoid having to go ‘over’ Wolstonbury it does not mean you can go completely around it without some climbing effort, so in rather humid conditions the first climb was dispatched cleanly before resting briefly to let some horse riders clear the next section of bridleway.

Nice fast ride into Pyecombe village with the ripples invoking a comment from the back that this was ‘like the bridleway at Wolstonbury hill’! Over the A23 to the next climb over Cow Down, to save peoples legs and arms from the brambles/nettles we took the direct route of a gentle climb in the open – first thoughts of ice cream started to appear at this point.

A brief rest to discuss bike weights, Evans sale and crank arm length before heading off to complete the climb and cross over the South Downs Way. Whilst it looked like the trail leading back to the A23 Patcham crossing had been cleared, turned out the person had got bored half way down leaving most of us with a few stings and minor cuts from thorns. Brief photo stop at a stunning view of two fields turned red by poppies.

The ice cream idea was by now firmly fixed and so the Stanmer park route switched to a alternate that included a stop at Ditchling Beacons ice cream van. Taking a welcome rest and refuel stop at the Chantri before pressing on via a short section of the SDW and the usual crowds of welcoming walkers and dog owners. Duly refreshed it was time to head back but not before sampling Strete Bostal, one of the many routes which lead down from the escarpment into the low Weald. This bostal is rarely used and has a clear view which makes for everybody having a ‘can we do that again’ feeling. Sadly not today!

No more climbing so everybody could settle in and enjoy the fast, if dusty, trail taking in a stream crossing before entering West Wood where the first, and only, incident occured as a result of a poor line choice and the last remaining mud being deeper than expected. No damage to bike or rider so on through the jungle of singletrack that has developed due to riders and walkers attempting to avoid two years of wet conditions stopping at a small play area where those so inclided could practise on the small jumps and other features nestled in a dryied out furnace pond.

Once on the way again a minor mechanical split the group but we quickly rejoined to cross the Brighton mainline and return to the car park for welcome refreshment and cake.

Distance 24 miles with something around 800 metres of climbing… Tony

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