Mass cycling can be a good thing or it can raise problems. I love that fact that when a sportive goes off the mass of riders can actually “claim back” their space that is usually denied them when riding alone or in small groups. It reminds drivers and the population at large that there are lot of cyclists about. Unfortunately, the one group that doesn’t seem to notice are the authorities. From the national government to the local councils they seem to be adopting a head in the sand (maybe “head in the pothole” would be better) approach happily ignoring the huge growth in cycling. If you are a driver and want to “claim back” your space you ought to start campaigning now for better cycle provision otherwise the sheer numbers of riders will make your weekend driving hell. For me, a sportive is like a mass protest. Bring ’em on!
Off road, however is different. Round here, at least, riders, walkers, dog owners, farmers, land owners, ramblers and equestrians all seem to get on in near perfect harmony. Despite the ever increasing users of the Downs around Worthing the only problem seems to be dog poo. I was a little concerned when I noticed that the South Downs Rough Ride was re-routed across the edge of the town. What would the effect on the local status quo be with 600 riders going down past Rogers Farm and Cissbury Ring? I was dead against it. If you were riding, or rather not riding, during the last foot and mouth out break you will realise how important our unrestricted access to the Downs is. Anything that upsets this worries me.
I am not aware yet if there is going to be any fallout, I know that some runners were surprised by the masses of riders but that is all. Perhaps I am just too precious about our beloved downs. The South Downs Way National Park Authority does not need to be informed but they are drawing up guide lines for events. 35% of The South Downs Way users are cyclist. The BHF ride goes off without a hitch. The Steyning Stinger and the Three Forts Marathon seem to get by so maybe I am just being a too worried.
On Sunday I rode the South Downs Rough Ride. It was re-routed because of the mud earlier in the year so the new route suited a roadie-mountain biker like me. It might not be the most interesting of rides but, for me, it is probably the best route round here for South Downs Way training. Usually I ride east or west as far as possible and then come back – boring! This route has potential. How about doing two laps? It somehow seems easier training without going so far away from home, and it is pretty tough too!.
Here’s the ride. It was warm, even at 7am, my only concession to the season was a BaaBaa
base layer and arm warmers otherwise I wore the same as for the SDW last July. Following on from the event I can report that 600 riders left virtually no trace on the trails. You would never have known that more than 6 had ridden the route. The real trail wreckers are the horses and walkers. No need to wash the bike after either. I need faster tyres, still running mud Maxiss Beavers!
All Team issue but no photo – the phone died when I finished (no way would I have stopped during the ride).
If you are new to mountain biking and want a challenge the route is not technical or difficult at all so is a great way to ride if you want to enjoy the downs without the worry of mud, ruts and slipping.