I went out a bit late this morning—9am. If I’d gotten out earlier, I could have cycled for longer without it eating into the remainder of the day’s activities. So I took a short ride, similiar to last weeks (which I failed to mentioned, but which was utterly freezing thanks to the fog).
First I went up to Devils Dyke. This was the only cold bit, thanks to the brutal wind along the top of the ridge. Because I hadn’t been going for long, I was still warming up as well. My arms were exposed and turned bright red in a matter of minutes. At the Dyke, I saw some parents taking their small girl for a walk, in the most fabulous pink wellies. Kids clothes are always so much more interesting.
I turned back from the Dyke and headed left down the path towards Saddlescombe farm. This was surprisingly dry. There was a bit of mud, but nothing serious. It started getting a bit slippery as I got towards the road about, but that was it.
Crossing the road into Saddlescombe farm, I went through the farm, to the left and up the path under the trees. Full of branches and rocks, as well as being quite steep, this was a bit of a sod to get up. I came off twice. Finally getting through that, I went into the open fields and the steep climb up Newtimber hill. That was good, with plenty of work required, but pretty good traction on the grass. No wheel spinning.
At the top of the hill, I turned right to start the journey back home. I went through the gate down a small path which didn’t look as overgrown as the last time I went through there. This was a shortcut in order to cut out about 500 yards of cycling. Silly mistake. I got half way through the path and it was nearly completely enclosed in brambles. Thankfully, somebody else had obviously realised the same thing at the same point and there was a large escape hatch in the hedge where the previous person (probably a pony actually) had cut through back to the main path.
From there it was a regular farm road all the way down sweet hill to waterhall playing fields. Unfortunately, this is where I really started to encounter the mud. I had been this way once before in a thunder storm with some friends and the chalk had really stuck to my wheels. But this time, the mud was like super glue. It didn’t just stick to my wheels, it stuck to itself very well. So that every few metres a large clump of mud would gather on the front wheel and wedge itself into the arches, bringing me to a complete halt. Very frustrating. Especially when it happens in front of some farmer unloading hay for the cows.
The end result was that I had to repeatedly cycle for a few yards, and then shake the bike to clear the mud off for several hundred metres. Grrr. As I turned into the final downhill stretch of Sweet hill, I hit tarmac and managed to shake off some of the mud. But even when I got home about 10 minutes later, I still had more mud on my bike than I’d managed before. So I had a lovely afternoon cleaning mud off the bike. What a bonus…