Tuesday 28 February 2012

CCH at the Hell of the Ashdown

Fashion week comes to Kent

Last Sunday 26th February Andy, Neil, Dave, Harry, Andy (Buckwell) and myself, Alan and Henry, and Tom (Smith) set off from Biggin Hill to conquer the 'cols' of Kent and Sussex by partaking in the Hell of the Ashdown a 100k early season Sportive known for its 1600 metres of hard climbs and bad weather – Andy B regaled us of his war story from a previous years event when he completed this and it was snowing, however, we were greeted by gorgeous sunshine and temperatures more akin to early summer than late winter and not a sign of snow!

With registration complete, timing chips attached and pockets stuffed with supplies we were off out into he stunning Kent countryside and straight up the first of the days climbs Cudham Test Hill with crunching gears (a theme for the day!), and we were warming up nicely as we passed through the rolling Kent countryside towards Toys Hill the highest point on the North Downs. The course was amazing, full of short sharp ascents mixed with long strength sapping efforts winding up and up amongst the ancient orchards old hop-houses, and spinning out down one fantastic technical descent after another.
The sun beating down on the first feed stop.
Taking it all in our stride (just) we ticked off each of the climbs as we headed out towards Sussex past the first feed station to the summit of Priory Road, back into Kent and up the infamous Kidds Hill otherwise known as the Wall, but to echo the words of Dave Carr and me...'was that it'? After regrouping at the summit of the Wall and passing round the jelly babies we were off again and onto another cracking ascent up to Ashdown Forest and the half way point at mile 30. After the forest we found ourselves plummeting down Black Hill for what seemed like miles before the Col de Groombridge, Bayleys Hill and Ide Hill and the last feed stop at mile 50 (Ide Hill Village) where we regrouped before the last effort. 
Refuelled with banana, gels and more jelly babies we set off again for the last twelve miles and the sting in the tail, Star Hill. We could see this long winding ascent long before we got to it and it was here that Andy, Dave and Neil pulled away not to be seen until the finish line. Andy B, Harry and I pushed on following close behind passing many a suffering rider on the way to the top and the final couple of miles back to Biggin Hill and the end. Fantastic weather, fantastic riding, great company and great organisation - thank you Catford CC and see you next year!


For Andy's map of the ride and a view of the incredible profile- no flat bits - click here.

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