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2012 news - August

CPT in action


Three to choose from

Three events all take place on Sunday 7 October so you'll have to make a decision! There's the London league London Fields Aquathlon, the ever-popular Dulwich 10k and the Ride of the Falling Leaves (with registration opening on 1 September. Don't forget to let Karen know which races you have entered.


Bank holiday ride to the coast

11 adult and two junior members met at Elmers End for this year's social ride to Bexhill. Phil, who was leading the ride and had planned the route (although not ridden or driven it beforehand) briefed the juniors, who had never ridden that far before, reminding them to eat and drink regularly and to pace themselves as they had a long day ahead of them.

We set off to ride every hill Phil could possibly find between Elmers End and Bexhill! To the best of our knowledge, he only got us off the planned route twice, so better route planning than usual! We had a lunch break in Groombridge but didn't find another stop before hitting the final few kilometres into Bexhill and the call of fish and chips!

Greta and Adam (our junior riders) sailed up the hills, making them look very easy, they didn't seem to tire and waited patiently for those of us more used to cycling the distance!

According to Kati's computer, the ride was just 64 miles (felt much longer), with an average speed of 13.7 mph and over 5000 feet of climbing.

We ate fish and chips (which, according to some, weren't as good as those from the pier at Eastbourne) on the promenade in glorious sunshine before heading back to East Croydon by train, or for those of lucky enough to be met at Bexhill by junior parents, a lift in the car.

Thanks Phil for all those hills. We'll have to take a vote on whether to repeat next year or go back to Eastbourne!


There be pain in them thar hills

HansThe King of the Pennines, Hardknott & Wrynose and Burgess Hill Rumble
Report by Hans Geberbauer

Not to be outdone by Mark Thomas for using holidays as an opportunity to inflict pain on ourselves, we headed north to ride the King of the Pennines, a 100 mile and over 11,000ft vertical elevation ride through the Yorkshire Dales. 

Wim in the PenninesIt was my first time back in the Dales since 1993 (a barely remembered pointless phase of my life when I was an undergraduate and Wim-less). 

Wim paced us with impressive restraint over the undulating sections through rolling hills and the beautiful villages of honey-coloured stone, preserving our strength for the ascents which were truly epic.  None left out a 25% gradient for at least part of the way up.  All were up wide open hillsides where you knew exactly what was coming miles ahead. 

Hans in the PenninesMost descents down the fells were fast and sweeping with excellent visibility of the road ahead, and smooth road surfaces throughout, allowing Wim to hit almost 80kph at one point.  Our strength held up really well on ascent after ascent as we worked our way ahead amongst the riders. 

Unfortunately, an endless, steep downhill got the better of me and I came off the bike (luckily in sort of slow motion, with only assorted live stock for witness), leaving my back wheel bent out of shape although it would just about still roll without rubbing on the frame.  Thankfully, the next feed and repair stop was not far.  Wim was relieved to see me (he had been waiting for some 20 minutes), I was pleased and surprised to see our own Keith Brewster manning the station and passing me into the hands of the mechanic who trued the wheel as best he could. 

Hans in the PenninesAt this stage, it had been raining for hours and we had 30kms and a major climb to go, but there was no question of not finishing this glorious sportive.  We've done a few this year but the King of the Pennines stands out for the scenery (even in the rain!) and the sublime quality of the challenge (well done Evans). 

Hans & Wim in the PenninesThe King of the Pennines is probably only bested for grandeur by the Fred Whitton sportive that takes in all the major passes of the Lake District in a single ride.  And speaking of Cumbria, we headed over there to conquer Kirkstone Pass from the North West as well as up a vicious approach from Ambleside that is officially known as The Struggle. 

Wim in the PenninesOn another day, we set off from Seascale, a miserable little village on the Irish Sea to conquer the climb of climbs: Hardknott.  Ever been cheered by car drivers while you take up the entire width of a very narrow road?  They waved, they gave big grins, thumbs up, shouts of encouragement ("Go Bradley"), they filmed us as we weaved up the hill among them in a slow motion, grinding up 30% hair pins. 

It's one of the finest things I've ever done. Naturally, we wore full club kit for this momentous occasion.

Unfortunately, what goes up must come down and the descents from Hardknott and Wrynose are long, windy and steep, so I again opted to get off and push the bike down the hill for part of the way.

Wim & Hans in the PenninesBack home, since we couldn't join the club ride to Bexhill, we signed up for the Burgess Hill Rumble instead, 94 miles through Sussex and Kent well known to us by now.  Kidds Hill (the Wall) seemed easy, York's Hill was conquered (during the King of the Downs, this hill defeated me and I had to push up) but still had a sting, as did Cob Lane, a short but very steep climb near Ardingly.  After a week of cycling up North, and back on my carbon Canyon, our Southern hills seemed much easier to tackle. 

To my intense irritation, we managed to miss a turn at the very end of the ride, an unwelcome first, but perhaps forgivable after a long season.  Our preparation for Challenge Henley is now done, for better or worse!


CPT in the news (archive)

The 22nd June edition of the Bexhill Observer (pdf) featured a double-page spread on the Bexhill Triathlon and included a number of photographs of CPT in action.

Bexhill Observer - 22 June 2012


Results - 26 August

Congratulations to Suse on another race win and to Greg for second place overall and first male vet at the Tunbridge Wells Triathlon today. Martin won the MSV category and although Gary didn't get on the podium, he did get a PB!


parkrun results - 25 August

Bromley parkrun
143rd 25:34 Mark Hoolahan
189th 27:18 Sara Hoolahan

Crystal Palace parkrun
30th 23:24 Dave Crockwell
63rd 26:46 Karen Ayers
68th 28:17 Audrey Livingston


Midweek mile

The second of our midweek mile challenges took place at Crystal Palace on Wednesday 23 August. 16 members took part, including two juniors, Alex and Adam, Phil, James, Lisa, Dave and Karen all posted quicker times than in May.

It was Lisa's birthday so we sang her 'Happy Birthday' and were happy to share her birthday cake!

Another midweek mile challenge will be added to the schedule at the end of September.

I've created an Excel spreadsheet of the mile times and will add to these after future runs.


League update

Cathy our League coordinator has updated the League scores again following the Thorpe Olympic Triathlon at the weekend. There are no change to the top three places (as below).

The next few races to qualify for league points are (according to current race matrix): Vitruvian, Challenge Henley, Henley Half and London Tri Olympic distance. Please let Karen know which races you have entered so the race matrix can be updated.


Results - 19 August

Grant and his brother Ryan have an annual race off. This year's challenge took place at the Thorpe Olympic Southeast Championships. Grant reports "I had a great race today. Finished in 2.18 beating my brother for the first time in our annual 'Family Feud' race by six minutes. Somehow I managed a 24 minute swim and I don't think it was that short. Was a bit weird I came back in off the bike and there were hardly any other bikes as I was in the top 10! Not a great run but I'm still chuffed. New PB at the Olympic distance by 10 mins. Shows what sibling rivalry can do!".

Post-race breakfast

Photo: A well deserved post-race breaky. Grant's bacon and egg sarney with HP sauce stood in for him in this pic!

Richard and Sue raced at the Milton Keynes Triathlon, while Ruki and Phil did the Blenheim Sportive. Ruki says "Lovely day, good though tough course - Clare and I did 60 miles in 4 hrs 17 mins. We missed the sign at the end on how to get back into the park so did a bit extra! Our official times will be way out as we missed the place to hand in our timing chips and had to find event control at end to give ours in!". Unfortunately Ruki hasn't been given a finish time so event control obviously didn't hand her timing chip in either!

Phil did the 100 miler and finished in 6:46:17.


Ruki's profileCPT Member profile

Read the response to 20 questions answered by a member who started out as a CPT supporter before taking up triathlon herself and has smooth legs.

Read more ...

If you would like to share your triathlon background and feature in a member profile, please get in touch.


Velodrome - 21 August

Last Tuesday's session at the Velodrome was so popular, lovely sunshine and post-Olympics, that we had to operate a waiting list as the track was full. If the weather is as good this week you'll need to get there early or be prepared to wait!


parkrun results - 18 August

Brockwell parkrun
24th 22:14 Emily Parry (1st F, 1st timer)

Bromley parkrun
125th 24:52 Mark Hoolahan
178th 27:57 Sara Hoolahan

Crystal Palace parkrun
3rd 19:57 John Buchanan
40th 24:56 Dave Crockwell


DaveRace face

Dave wins the Race face at Bewl Triathlon on Sunday 12 August.


Almost the Brownlee brothers - Waterside Tri race report

HansReport by Hans Geberbauer

We are almost like the Brownlee brothers.  Although, for one thing, we are father and son, not brothers.  For another, we didn't win.  We lost (as in: coming last) - so, as I said, almost like the Brownlee brothers. 

Anyway, last Sunday, while you were all swaning about Bewl Water (or Dorset, in the case of Mr Thomas), Wim and I tackled the Waterside Long Distance Tri, involving a 2400m swim, 121km bike and 30km run on the coast of Essex. 

Hans and Wim setting up in transition - Waterside Tri

After the high winds on Saturday, I was concerned we'd end up with another duathlon, but Sunday was sunny with only a light breeze, setting us up for a lovely swim in the North Sea amongst sailing boats with only the tide adding an extra challenge.  There were fewer than 20 competitors for the long distance event, so we knew it'd be lonely.  I acquired such a big kayak escort on the last 600m of the swim (which I think was long by a few hundred metres) that I was sure I was the last man in the water but was delighted to find that I wasn't.  I was even more delighted to see that Wim's bike was already gone when I got to T1 - a first even though he has always been the better swimmer. 

Hans running to T1 - Waterside Tri

Wim running to T1 - Waterside Tri

The bike course was three flat and furious laps of 40km, with the few awkward junctions very well marshalled.  It was time trialling heaven, exactly what my Canyon was made for.  Unlike myself.  I have had it fitted and ridden it at Bexhill and the Sussex Half-IM as well as a long sportive or two but those courses were reasonably short or technical enough to require frequent shifts of position and I found the bike light and stiff and super responsive if a touch uncomfortable on rough surfaces.  On this course, I could have, and really should have spent the entire time on the aerobars.  However, after 25 mins, rather alarmingly I had lost all sensation in my private parts.  Later, my left shoulder started playing up.  So I ended up spending a lot more time on the hoods than the course warranted and was grateful for every opportunity, however spurious, to get out of the saddle - another fitting session will probably be in order. 

Wim on the bike - Waterside Tri

As usual, I got carried away a little on the bike even as I thought I was being very careful, rarely riding on the big ring and always spinning a high cadence.  Unlike on our many rides and races in Sussex and Kent, there is practically no opportunity for freewheeling and three hours of non-stop pedalling took their toll (I really should spend time on a turbo trainer) so I had to ease off on the last lap, even though I had Wim in my sights by then. 

The minute I got on the run, it was obvious I should have held back on the bike.  In addition, the heat was beginning to be noticeable - I mean, who would ordinarily start a 30km run race at noon in August?  The course, three laps of ten, lead through some fields and quiet country roads to the sea wall which it followed for 6 or 7 kms.  The ground was a lot more uneven than I had anticipated and the sea wall path was completely exposed, with no water station between km 3 or 4 and km 10. 

Thankfully, some light clouds shielded us from the mid-day sun and the breeze cooled a little bit but it was brutal nonetheless.  I hobbled through the first 10km in 1h4min and was ready to give up.  I grabbed a water bottle to carry with me for the second lap and started what Wim and I like to call tactical walking.  It's walking, but in a thoughtful, purposeful sort of way, the smart man's way of running really (I must share this insight with Mo Farrah when I next bump into him in Crystal Palace park, like after the Aviva Grand Prix). 

Hans tactical walking - Waterside Tri

Once I was out of sight from Abby (who really deserves a medal for hanging out in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Essex, for 10 hours so we could do our race) and the transition area, the humiliation of walking wore off, my legs slowly recovered and I figured a mix of running and walking would still leave me finishing within 10 hours. 

Knowing the course helped to break it into manageable chunks for the second and third lap and I focussed on not getting lapped.  I even enjoyed the somewhat bleak beauty of the coast line, lovingly decorated with a nuclear power facility and WWII pillboxes. 

On the final lap, I made it my (modest) aim to at least finish the run in under 4 hours while wondering where everybody else was.  As I stormed to the finish line among volunteers busy packing up, I saw my bike racked entirely by itself.  Wim, it turned out, had sensibly decided to call it a day after 20km of running.  Everybody else bar one other DNF had finished before me.  
Now, this may not be the conclusion that immediately jumps to mind but I think we're ready for Challenge Henley.  As long as the weather isn't extremely hot or windy and we remain resolutely unambitious on the bike (7h30), we should have no trouble finishing.  Because we can always do some tactical walking to see us to the finish line... 


Races to enter

Entries for the popular Dulwich 10k are now open. The race takes place on Sunday 7 October.

The Fool's Errand II - More Fool You sportive will be taking place on 7 April 2013. It will run through the same breathtaking scenery and challenging terrain as 2012, but for the truly foolhardy they are offering a choice of 100k or 100 mile routes in 2013. They are offering an early bird discount to anyone entering before 1 October 2013 (£15 instead of £20).

You can read my race report from this year to find out more. 


Bank holiday social ride

The annual bank holiday social ride to the coast is nearly upon us.

Monday 27 August at 09:00
The ride will be at a social pace from Elmers End to Bexhill, 70 miles, and back train!  There will be a couple of stops on route for tea, cakes and a quick fluid top up. At Bexhill there is a chance for a dip in the crystal blue sea followed by fish and chips on the beach.


League update

Cathy our League coordinator has updated the League scores following updates to the Bewl sprint and standard Triathlon results (they've deducted traffic light stoppage times). There were a few small tweaks to some people's scores (some may now look worse if the winner's time in your category changed significantly) but it has not changed the overall top three standings in each league (as below).


CPT in the news

The online version of the Surrey Comet includes a photo of Brian, Emily, Adam and myself in Kingston watching the London 2012 cycling time trial, along with a quote from Emily.

CPT in the Surrey Comet


New member

Welcome to new member Daniel Walton.


League update

Report by Cathy our League coordinator

Well done to all who raced the Bewl sprint and standard distance triathlons yesterday, both qualify for league points. Well done to Jon H, Suse, Greg and me (!) for getting top scores for their age/gender category. Because we're well into race season, I have now removed those with less than the required minimum of three races from the leaderboard below. Still plenty of time to get in some extra races though, check the club race matrix to see what everyone is doing and let Karen know what you've entered or it won't count towards the League. 

Current standings are:
Female Senior: Suse Fairfax; Katie Crowe; Cathy Cooke
Female Vets: Kati Pusey; Ruki Sidhwa; Audrey Livingston
Female Supervets: Karen Ayers

Male Senior: Rob Parry; James Nellist; Victor Thompson
Male Vets: Jon Horsman; Greg Lewis; Mark Thomas
Male Supervets: Martin Leat; Tim Thomas; Dave Crockwell


Summer BBQ

Many thanks to Brian and Lisa for hosting the summer BBQ. Delicious food, great company and sunshine, as usual.

Lisa and ChrissieA few left early to attend the BT London Live Closing Ceremony Concert in Hyde Park.

John and Lisa enjoyed their evening in Hyde Park and were really pleased with their random photo opportunity with @chrissiesmiles.


Race results - 11-12 August

Bewl Triathlon
Report by Karen Ayers

An early start at BewlWe had a great turnout of CPT racers at the inaugural Bewl Triathlon for both the Standard and Sprint races. Lisa encouraged entries to gain valuable points for the Club League and to test the event as a possible venue for the 2013 Club Championships.

Unfortunately Lisa was unable to race, but with a croaky voice and a very nasty cough, she came along to cheer us all on and took these photos. Jon and Mitch swapped from the Standard to the Sprint and afterwards I think a few others wished they had too!

The swim start at BewlBewl Water is a great venue for a triathlon. There was plenty of water in the reservoir and it was a pleasant temperature, although the swim was short (by my calculations it was closer to 1200m, as I can only dream of swimming 1500m in my recorded time).

There was quite a long run from the swim exit back to transition, which was up a little hill with a nasty mixture of gravel, rough concrete and grass to run across.

Karen exiting the swim at BewlThe 40km bike was advertised as a fast course, it might have been fast but it was by no means flat. None of the hills were too demanding, steep or long but felt slightly harder on the second lap! There were some unexpected roadworks on the route with temporary traffic lights. Marshals were on hand to record competitors who were stopped and a promise was made that times would be adjusted accordingly, but this hasn't happened yet. I was lucky first time round but had to stop on the second lap and Ruki had to stop both times. Unfortunately Martin (and a few other cyclists) missed the entrance back into Bewl Water when the marshals directed him to continue. He thinks he did an extra 3-4 miles before heading back in the right direction.

Bruce running at BewlMartin had overtaken me on the bike, then I'd gone past him again on a downhill, before he overtook me again and disappeared into the distance. With a two lap run, I thought he must have had a really good run but he then explained he was actually behind me and on lap one too.

The website said the run route was flat and scenic within Bewl Estate overlooking the reservoir. I'd been thinking about changing from the Standard to Sprint race as my two weeks as a Games Maker had been hardwork and I hadn't done anywhere near as much training as usual, but the promise of a flat run made me decide to stick with the Standard race, especially as Bexhill had been turned into a much hated duathlon.

Jon running at BewlI ran down the hill from transition expecting to run across the flat dam and round the banks of the reservoir. I was really surprised to see runners ahead of me running down a hill and then up the other side (longer and steeper than the Crystal Palace parkrun) and this had to be done twice. I talked myself into running up the hill, doing an Ironman shuffle, telling myself it would flat when I reached the top. How wrong could I be?! The route continued off-road through woods, it wasn't hilly but it was certainly undulating. The Sprint racers completed one lap so I got to see most people running in the opposite direction and the faster Standard racers lapping me on their second run.

Bruce running at BewlWhen Martin caught me up he'd decided his race was over and he was just finishing as a training exercise. He ran with me and kept encouraging me. My pace was much slower than his but I'm sure I ran faster with him than I would have done if I'd been running on my own, although a couple of soggy jelly babies gave me a bit of a burst after the second turnaround!. Martin did most of the talking while I plodded away behind him. I did take offence when he told one of the marshals that he'd brought his mum out for a run!! Even shuffling as I was, I hope I looked more like his older sister than his mum! He very kindly let me cross the finish line ahead of him.

Congratulations to Jon, Greg, Suse, Cathy, Cathie and Emily (on only her second ever race) on their podium finishes. Tim had a very good reason for missing the race (see article below).

The race definitely got the thumbs up for 2013. Next time I'll be better prepared and ready for those hills!

Karen (& Martin) at Bewl

View and purchase official photos at Sussex Sport Photography.

MarkSwanage Classic Triathlon race report
by Mark Thomas

You know how sometimes your memory can play tricks on you?

I remember a picturesque race across lush downland and skipping along sunny cliff tops all preceeded by a smooth swim in crystal clear waters. Well it was sunny on the run (I think !).

The waves thrashed the shore but once I fought out beyond them to the intermittently visible first buoy, things settled down a bit. I am sure I made the same mistake last time but the return leg of the out and back sea swim was tricky to sight and I must have a done at least 100m extra for free.

Up onto the beach and level pegging with a fellow anaesthetist from Somerset donning his white aero helmet.

Then out onto the bike. It is worth getting a glug or two of drink before the climbing starts (salty water in the sea!) and then it is basically steady climbing for 15km before the turn back. I managed to keep white aero at bay on the way out but my heavy week's riding claimed its cost as we turned back and I was overtaken by aero and another chap I know from Windrush tri club (Charles).

The head wind on the way back made me check my brakes weren't permanently on more than once (memories of a tough ride in Mallorca earlier in the year) but we were back in Swanage 39km later and now onto my favourite discipline….

The magic powers of Stuart's aero helmet soon became evident as I passed him coming out of T2. Windrush Charles posted a very quick bike time (fresh back from Alpe D'Huez) so catching him would be harder work.

Mark's memories of SwanageThe run course has changed slightly so we headed up a stone step pathway onto the top of Studland and then out to overlook the 'Old Harry' limestone stack. The steps are a killer. I 'power-walked' most of the way up. Charles was barley visible in the distance and I pegged him back with 1km to go. We had a great race and I only narrowly upheld CPT's reputation.

I was 5 secs off 2nd in the AG (if only the run was longer……or the bike shorter…..or me a bit faster….).

As an aside here, I should make a public apology to my family who had to relive the what if's regarding that 5 second gap most of the way back to London.

There were prizes for the first two in the age group…nothing for the sad git who could only manage 3rd.

All in all, a memorable race. But as I say, your memory can play tricks on you.

Other races
Katie swam 3k in the Swim Super Series at Bray Lake in Berkshire on 11 August. On 12 August four CPT members did the Worthing Sprint Triathlon, a qualifying race for the 2013 ETU Championships and Ella raced at the Grafman Triathlon.

CPT at Worthing

View and purchase official photographs at Sussex Sport Photography.


Excuses, excuses!

Tim - TfL Ambassador London 2012During the games I was a TfL Travel Ambassador at Green Park station - a hive of activity for the Hyde Park/Mall events, BT Live and Beach Volleyball plus all the posh types and IOC crowd staying in the Park Lane Hotels (we even met Seb Coe).  There was something about wearing pink that seemed to make people want to approach you. I had all sorts of questions ranging from an American wanting to buy a Mr Bean mask to an inquisitive German fan who wanted directions to nearby Nobu restaurant to witness the scene of Boris Becker’s infamous broom cupboard incident! 

Standing-up all day was really tiring – so much so that my training regime has gone out the window other than a cycle over to Kingston for the time trial – what an experience – that wall of sound as Bradley raced over Kingston bridge was memorable.

Anyway, sore feet wasn’t a valid excuse for missing Bewl this weekend.  On Saturday morning I got a call from an over-excited Wandsworth events manager saying Ian Thorpe’s agent had approached them to do an impromptu swim session at Tooting Bec Lido and could I help with the set-up.  Sure enough the great man turned up, complete with army of PR/Media, and was brilliant especially with children. 

Sadly, he declined our usual Sunday morning race though he did find time to give a few of the older members (including me now) a quick 5min lesson – his observation on my stroke was ‘ slow it all down - think of every breath as a rest not your last’ – something JH’s been telling me for years on a Tuesday night – so hopefully the message will finally sink in!!”

See you all soon as urgently need to get in shape for the Henley Half fast approaching next month.

Tim and Ian Thorpe


parkrun results - 11 August

Crystal Palace parkrun
14th 21:13 Emanuele Vignoli
15th 21:16 Bruce Sharp (PB)
52nd 25:35 Dave Crockwell


Woldingham Aquathlon

Grant managed to squeeze in the Woldingham Aquathon on Wednesday evening around watching the Olympics.

He says "It was a good little race and nice to be able to fit it in and make it home before 9pm to see the day’s highlights.

Hopefully shaping up quite nicely before my ‘Family Feud’ race against my brother at Thorpe Lake next Sunday as I knocked 1min 40 secs off my time from last year".


CharlotteNew member

Welcome to new member Charlotte Boucher.


Trowbridge Triathlon

Mark at TrowbridgeMark reports an age group win on his holidays in Dorset.

"I set off for my well earned 10 day break to Dorset with my bike and long suffering family in tow.

Sam (12) entered the tristar 2 aquathlon and I did the local triathlon at Trowbridge. 400m pool swim, 28 km rolling countryside riding and a flat 5km with a field and a style to jump over!

I am pleased to report that Sammy won his age group and I came 4th overall and was only beaten by people in their 20s so I am clearly getting younger!!

Swanage Olympic tri beckons next weekend but the rest of the family are planning a lie in! More holiday postcards to follow. I suspect Swanage will be more painful!


New member

Welcome to new member Rob Fisker-van Veen, Rob's daughter is a junior member.


parkrun results

John's celebration breakfastCrystal Palace parkrun
1st 19:08 John Buchanan
4th 19:53 Phil Feldman (PB)

Congratulations to John on being the fastest runner at the Crystal Palace parkrun two weeks in a row and to Phil for a new PB, breaking 20 minutes for the first time at this run. The parkrun PBs page has been updated.

Lisa made John a celebratory breakfast!


Late results

On 29 July Emanuele and Rachel ran the Magor Marsh 10k.

On 21 July Scott did the The Crawley Wheelers 10 Miles Open Time Trial on the G10/57 course. The fastest rider on the day completed the course in 19:38. Scott missed out on a prize by picking up a two minute time penalty for being late. So his official time time is 26:30 but his actual time was 24:30. 


The Wiggle Haywards Heath Howler

HansReport by Hans Geberbauer

Last Sunday, Wim and I did the Epic version of the Wiggle Haywards Heath Howler, a 100 mile sportive with some 2400 metres of climbing. The day began with a panic over a mechanical issue on Wim's bike we discovered while lined up at the start (luckily before we crossed). The Wiggle mechanic fixed it in no time.

It's this support, plus the signage, the feed stations and the ability to call a repair van (not that we've ever had to) that make these sportives appear good value to me - I don't think I'd be able to get myself out for these long rides. Plus they are a great way to get to know new routes without having to worry about getting lost.

Wim and HansAscending Ditchling Beacon was a first highlight for us, having never done it before. I passed loads but was humbled to find the guy I had heard glued to my back wheel on the way up to be an older chap in a cotton t-shirt riding a steel bike with mudguards and all and even a pannier... .

After some cruising about at the foot of the South Downs, we turned north, leaving behind a nagging headwind but soon enough hitting the long climb up Ashdown Forest. We were rewarded with the long and simple descent to Friar's Gate but were immediately sent back up to the ridge, this time for a run down Kidd Hill (the Wall). I am not the most adventurous descender at the best of times but, being quite tired already, I found that a touch terrifying. It took me a long time to catch up with Wim.

The last 30km seemed to take forever but our finish time compared well with sportives earlier in the year - and we had managed to miss the torrential downpours that marred the women's Olympic bike race.

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