Saturday 17 October 2020

Photo of the day - 17: Another hilly bike ride on the South Downs


On the way down from Bo Peep - great to see the paragliders out 
Continuing my hill climbing season, today saw me once again on the slopes of the South Downs. My day started with a hill climb competition up to Firle Beacon. It was similar to the one I did at Steyning Bostal last week, except that in this one I actually had the time to reccie the climb. Well, the sign-on was located at the summit, and given that I had chosen to park in Firle village I had no choice but to ride up the climb to pick up my number. Last week I had been the minute woman to local rider Cathy Wallace. I had managed to stay ahead of her, but she still put time into me and beat me by 30 seconds. This time she wasn't there and I was minute woman to another local rider, Erica Martin of Eastbourne Rovers. She caught me three-quarters of the way up the climb. For me, that was a good result as she is a strong rider and Firle is slightly harder than Steyning. I finished third last in this one, which was an improvement on last place in my previous hill climb! One thing about racing is how you keep bumping into people you recognise from other races. Debbie Percival, racing for Kent Velo Girls was there - she had been at the two races I did last week. Also, it was good to see Natalie Creswick, who I know from other cycle races I have done in the past. It's that that gives cycle racing a community feel too, as you go around the circuit and get to know different people - like in many competitive sports. 
After racing up Firle Beacon, I thought it would have been rude not to pay a visit to the other nearby well-known climb, Bo Peep. So I did a little loop further to the east where I picked up the little lane that took me to the summit. That climb is shallow initially, and there is around a 10% ramp as you turn the first bend. However, the real sting is the final bend, which must be more like 18%. I am glad that wasn't included in the race. Along the way, I saw a couple of guys on hybrid bikes who were really suffering on the slope. We congratulated each other when we met again in the car park. Talk about solidarity in pain!
As well as the company of other bike riders mad enough to ride up Bo Peep for pleasure, we had many paragliders up and above us, making the most of the thermals. Gee, the lengths people go, to reach the summit without pedalling a bike - cheats!

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