Author Topic: London to Hastings

sam

London to Hastings
« on: July 25, 2015 »
It's Wen to Wen time again



The route
There are faster ways to get there, but this isn't about faster.


let us go forward together

Hastings Hustle
in the beginning

2014 ride report
three to the sea

127 Hours
what fresh hell is this?

sam

flyer
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2015 »


I left out the station that people actually used: Eastbourne.





sam

Ahoy there
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2015 »
Herewith an accounting of which fortunes got told. Did I not mention that those were fortune muffins?



I made too many.





sam

this time it's epic
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015 »


When you're planning a ride you may think about who you want to show up. "Well, everybody!" might be the first thought, but of course you can't have everybody. Where would you put them?

No, you want the right people. Ideally they will all be comfortable with the pace set by consensus, they will have conversational reserves to last the miles, and they will finish content with their accomplishment, pleasant memories to share. You also want the optimum number to match your organisational skills.

The Wen to Wen was my first group ride, if you don't count the previous two. I'll count them, but with all respect to those few intrepid early adopters who took part, let's call them warm-ups. This time there were a dozen of us; still quite modest (the same number as have walked on the moon). Enough to qualify as my first major expedition.

I advertised here and on a couple of cycling forums. My pitch wasn't Shackletonesque,



however, I did stress that there would be hills. This was my way of weeding out participants who don't like hills. (You might ask does anybody, really? Some of us hide our masochism better than others.) Essentially I was casting my net for those who were up for a challenge and prepared to pay with what I hoped was a humane amount of pain. And I definitely didn't just want men.

Our cast of characters in roughly the order they arrived at Somerset House: Stuart, me, Russ, Geoff, Terry, Catherine, Kristian, Adrian, Claudine, Mike, Nigel, and Jason.

Geoff and Terry were recruits from our chance meeting at the Dunwich Dynamo and had themselves recruited Catherine, on her first lengthy ride. Kristian was a veteran from my second warm-up. I'd met almost everyone else on other, mostly nocturnal events, which stymied my facial recognition software such that I couldn't always put names to faces. Apologies especially to Stuart, now a serial victim of my forgetfulness. And to Mike, who may be Nick; accounts vary. Pre-ride jitters can only be blamed for so much.

I handed out flyers with subjective ratings of the hills to come and bailout stations, then we were off into the splendid window of opportunity the weather had afforded, a generous helping of rain having been handed out the day before as it would be the day after.

London isn't everybody's cup of tea, or so I've heard. Personally I'm always enthralled by city miles, but appreciate that for most the quicker they're out of the Great Wen, the better.

A previous incarnation of this ride had been billed as The Magical History Tour. Crystal Palace Park was a good first stop, then: more or less at the dawn of time. There are better dinosaurs to be seen, even in London (the animatronic T-Rex at the Science Museum begs a visit), but none in as peaceful a setting. I think most are herbivores, too.



Our next official stop was Downe House, where Charles Darwin lived and worked for 40 years. The humble worm was a speciality of his. The gardens behind the house are inviting to anybody who wants to walk in the revolutionary's footsteps over earth turned by those mighty little labourers.

Not far down the road we passed the house of a man some readers may recognise as a comedian, others as a politician.



Then came our first Honest Hill – though anyone who classifies Church Hill in Cudham as a Hill from Hell will suffer no corrections.


close enough

To borrow a line from the late great Douglas Adams: the first part is the worst. The last part is also the worst. It's the kind of hill you go up thinking "Wouldn't it have been easier for the road builder to move a hundred million tonnes of dirt to even things out?" Cursing also helps despite a lack of scientific evidence for it.

The reward for climbing this staircase is to slide down the bannister a few miles later, Pilgrim's Way (Canterbury being over our shoulders a fair distance) and a lovely but ominous backdrop of verticality to come. There was one casualty. Russ scraped a hole in his jersey as it slowed his unexpected descent after launching himself from a bump in the road. A mini hill, if you will. If his chin had been scalped his beard might have fetched a good price; I haven't seen its like outside of sepia toned photos.

There are, of course, hills in other parts of Britain which Mini-Me these, and actual mountains elsewhere in the world. France springs to mind for some reason



Those mountains would laugh at our Kent and East Sussex anthills if they could. Fortunately they can't, or the taunting would be even worse. This does not detract from the effort it took to ride ours, particularly as there was no public honor, recognition, or reward. Except coffee, which I believe a few took intravenously on that wide spot in the A25 aka Westerham.

Most of us then passed Chartwell, Churchill's home, while Claudine and Adrian went astray through no fault of their own. Believing myself capable of being ride leader, occasional backmarker, and wayfinder, I had fallen short on my commute between those jobs. Fortunately they were perfectly capable of finding their way back to the fold, though I will admit to making a prematurely grief-stricken phone call to ascertain this. I felt especially remorseful towards Claudine, who had come all the way from Wales.

We enjoyed a very fine view of the North Downs from Bidborough before coasting most of the way into Tunbridge Wells and our lunch stop at a cycling cafe packed with Tour watchers. As some of us waited (and waited…) for food, I had a good look at this:



No, not Nigel's perfectly shaped rations. this:



That's right: our own L'Etape du Tour, if you'll pardon the complete translation misfire. You're looking at a tyre with a split casing which has been matter-of-factly mended with electrical tape. This was supplied by a workman at a house we had been stopped outside of while waiting for the unsplintering of our group. Take a bow, Geoff, for the expert use of adhesives, and Terry for braving it.

Speaking of mechanicals, in addition to that delightfully crude yet highly effective repair we counted a split chain for Jason, a rather too derailled one for Catherine, and two punctures, one for Adrian near the start



and another for Geoff closer to the end which resisted all efforts to reintroduce rear hub to dropouts until fortitude combined with what may have been black magic prevailed. My own bike started creaking about halfway through and has yet to be diagnosed. It's probably just feeling put out after one too many chevrons.

My original estimate for the ride had been 10 hours, which is 3x as long as it took Chris Froome get fitted for another yellow jersey on another hilly ride. To be fair they had cleared the roads for him. As the sky darkened briefly over T. Wells, so did my optimism at keeping a semblance of a reasonable ETA at Hastings. Which was OK. I wanted people to enjoy this, and getting to watch the end of stage 20 turned out to be a part of it.

We passed Bateman's, where Rudyard Kipling held court for many years, then tackled the last big climb of the day, which culminated in the Brightling Pyramid. This curiosity is the final resting place of another one, "Mad Jack" Fuller, who built follies to tickle his fancy and employ pre-Victorians. We were met there by Jack himself, or a reasonable facsimile, starring in a small production by a history group. It's the sort of thing I wish I could take a bow for planning. All credit goes to serendipity. I can, however, take credit for arranging to have my wife meet us in more contemporary costume, with refreshments.

The nearby observatory used to house a camera obscura. Most of us made do with a mental photograph of the glorious view to the south. Perhaps Mike, halfway through his dissertation on (I'm likely getting this horribly wrong, sorry) how geography shapes culture, reflected on how our ups and downs had shaped us.

It wasn't all breezy downhill from here, but the end was nigh easier than everything that had led up to it: the Pevensey Levels are commendably level. Before the final stretch, part of our group left to find a train to get back to the lives they had left so long ago. Although a shortcut had been mooted "only if we're taking longer than expected," I hadn't availed our expedition of it, desiring a less traffic-strewn finale. I think everyone who joined me at The America Ground in Hastings preferred it and those who couldn't, forgave me.

We were a small merry band who landed at a fish & chips shop in the Old Town nearly 12 hours after setting off, keeping company with the net shops, marinating in whatever sweat that hadn't been evaporated by the cool breeze, soaking in the distant mariachi music. We toasted ourselves and the lovely evening, contemplating the achy aftermath of a fully satisfying folly of our own.


sam

what goes up
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015 »
Signs you may be addicted to hills:
- You occasionally stop in the middle of one, ostensibly for a gulp of water, but really because you enjoy a cold start on an incline.
- You choose gearing apropriate to your pain threshold. Due to tolerances which have been pushed and pushed again over time, you don't actually know what your pain threshold is.
- You say it's OK to walk if necessary. But when you do meet a hill that forces you off the bike, you consider it the walk of shame (only applies to self, I hasten to add).
- You go up one again & again because you didn't quite get it right the last time.

sam

hills bestiary
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015 »
I like hills. Some more than others. – Nigel



The route flyer makes much more sense to me now - post-ride!




sam

group ride etiquette
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016 »
I have prepared this brief guide on etiquette when riding with others.



It isn't necessary to point out potholes unless they're shaped like something interesting
Do you think Neil Armstrong pointed out all the craters to Buzz Adrin?



"Car up!" or "Car down!"? Neither
Judging by how often I hear it explained, this shout is instinctively confusing.



Avoid rubbernecking puncture repairs
I know, it's very hard not to. Bear in mind that some people have a shy bladder. Better to break into discussion groups about non-topical current events.



Volunteer to be a waymarker – don't wait to be drafted
Conscientious objectors must report for pothole repair duty after the ride.


Voted most likely to draft self

Don't speed ahead
Unless you're feeling speedy. And are confident of the route. Speaking from experience, it's a good way to get drafted for waymarker duty.


sam

Raiders of the lost dust bunny
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2016 »
Two weeks from today we're off again! Unless it rains. Because the rain melts your face.



You know what they say. History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

sam

London to Hastings
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2016 »

#Dorothy Parker #Rapha

FAQ

Here's the route sheet. I worked hard on this.

straight
2nd left at the roundabout
3rd left this time
right
left
left
left
right
left
right
left
right
left
left
right
left
left
right
right
left
left
right
a bit tricky here, but generally right
left
right
right
left
left
right
right
left
bear right
right
left
right
left
right
right
right
left
make your way through this, then
left
right
left – careful not to keep going straight here
left
right
left
7th right
right
left
right
right
right
left
right
time for lunch!
right
left
left
left
right
left. sorry, right
right again
left
right
left
right
left
right
right
left
left
right
muffin break
left, then turn around and retrace the last 3/4 of a mile. You want to see the pyramid, don't you?
left
right
right
left
right
left
right
right
2nd left
right, bearing left
right
right, onto the home stretch
final right. It may be a good idea to dismount before going on the pier

sam

London to Hastings
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2016 »
Destination: the pier.



It's been tidied up considerably since that cleansing breath of fire in 2010.



There aren't many amusements yet, but they've got child care sorted.




It's a shame I'll be cancelling this ride next month. [As long as I'm slipping back in time, note to self: skip that physio session, she's going to accidentally induce BPPV. Fair warning.]