A COLD early spring morning with a deceptively gusty wind set the backdrop for the Lewes Wanderers club event, the Circuit of Danehill.
he course, based at Chelwood Gate, starts off with a breathtaking fast downhill section through to Sheffield Park, where speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour can be reached. Riding at this pace through the pock-marked and rutted roads of Sussex as scenery blurs before them demands the fullest concentration and nerve from the riders. There follows a stiff tester of a climb, which gives an ominous pre-taste of the agony that awaits. Roadworks at Newick necessitated a course change and saw riders heading out towards Fletching, which included a nasty climb up to the village. After rejoining the A272 competitors were dry-mouthed in nervous anticipation as they enter the killer section of the ride. The first tester was in the form of the Maresfield by-pass. This usually benign section of the road was transformed into a leg-sapping assailant thanks to the fierce headwind which forced riders to dig deep in an attempt to maintain speed. The next delight awaiting the racers was the long grinding climb up to Nutley, the difficulty of which is accentuated by the goat track which is laughingly described as an A road. With heart meters beeping in protestation, riders edged nearer and nearer to the limit of their capabilities. Unlike the Greek economy if you go into the red zone, there is no one to rescue you from the inevitable catastrophe that lies over the brow of the hill. The torturers’ torment has a nasty and cruel sting in its tail with one final truly horrible climb up to the top of the Forest. Spectators reported that even some of the strongest entrants had blank distressed looks in staring eyes as they pedalled ever more desperately to the crest of the hill. Riders were rewarded for their exertions with one last glorious downhill burst to the sanctuary of the finishing line. The race itself unfolded into a thrilling contest, with pre-race favourite Pete Morris storming around the course in a magnificent winning time of 41:45. Nick Dwyer, a self-confessed hill-hater, still managed a brilliant 42:43 to come home in second and to win the Veteran award with ease. Surprise third place went to the fast improving Duncan Fuller (44:02), a time fast enough to earn him first on Handicap. Natasha Fuller had a splendid outing and her time of 50:00 secured her first Ladies’ position and the second spot in the Handicap event. Doug Gardener rounded off the Handicap awards grabbing third position with a time 55:44. In a closely-contested junior race, Dan Gardener was top dog on the day with an impressive time of 46:42. Second in the Vets competition was Matt Coombs (47:40), with your correspondent (49:28) and Michael Turner (48:07) sharing third place. The club would like to extend their thanks to Ollie Tuckley and the band of ever-willing helpers for a well-organised and enjoyable event. Five Wanderers elected to ride in the Redmond CC 25. Despite travelling to Broadbridge Heath, riders could not escape the cutting northerly winds, which made for tough conditions. Tom Glandfield covered the 25 miles in a fast time of 57.21, with Michael Valks recording 1:05:24, whilst John Mankelow put in a solid ride to cross the line in a time of 1:11:24 and the unlucky Dominic Lowden was a non-finisher.
More details of all of these rides plus all club activities and events can be found at the website www.leweswanderers.co.uk