GOING off road is an exciting change and although only 36 miles instead of the usual 100 mile sportive, the level of effort was of similar proportions.
The Southern Rough Ride kicked off the 2012 Wiggle Super Series on a high. New pink signage, Maxifuel on board as nutrition sponsors and Garmin loaning out the latest kit to get you round was only part of my excitement. The real fun was blatting around the countryside on my mountain bike in unusual hot sunshine for early March.
Heading out on the road made for a fast start before the wall of concrete as I granny-ringed it up over Springhead Hill. A re-group on top of the South Downs, read as waiting for me, my riding companions and I got the map out and all the ‘hill’ names suddenly jumped out at us. It was going to be a full days riding. Rolling along the bridleways through the farmland, passing cow sheds and striking vistas across the plains took the sting out of the effort needed.
Avoiding the two miles of thick bog, I took the short cut and ended at the feed station. It was a feeding frenzy on fresh sandwiches and fig biscuits. A quick repair from the Wiggle team and it was off to more fast descents and gruelling climbs.
Determined not to get off at any point I grunted outwardly as the mud was sticky and the climbs up the South Downs took their tolls on my lactate filled legs. My only solace was the fact that I was passing every boy walking. Muttering ‘chicked’ under my breath as I went past kept me pushing on. They got their own back on me as I walked the last technical downhill. A puncture in our group a mile from the finish meant we rimmed it home. Bikes washed at the finish, it was off to the pub garden for a roast and great banter about the spills, with no mention of traffic or car incidents.
Total ascent: Epic (36 miles) 2,917ft, Standard (27 miles) 2,151ft, Fun (16 miles) 1,324ft
Terrain: hilly bridle paths
Best: being out in nature with non-urban views
Worst: sticky mud on steep climbs