It was chilly but no one thought that bad then whilst looking for Adrian…… swoosh, Cherryl went down on black ice and we were still in the car park, a bad omen. This was going to be an interesting day.
We registered in good spirits proudly wearing our club kit, met up with Adrian and Oz's colleague (Chris) for his first sportive and got ready to set off. A nice little group of 6 of The Woolwich rolled out roared on by the Catford CC starter, as always acknowledging our superior…..kit. Turning left we headed for the first climb in the first mile, the 20% Cudham Lane crossroads. The talking stopped, the game was on, Adrian was blowing wishing he’d warmed up on the ride out too. Come on now though! leaving Northumberland Heath at 07:20 for a 07:30 start in Eltham. No wonder we had a banking crisis!!!!!
Then it all started to go wrong and the real trouble began, climbing to Hogstrough the black ice hit us. A waving Catford ride marshal advised us to get off as more than twenty riders has been down there already. I knew the spot – I was brought down there two years ago – it was a big ouch. Turning right and down a steep hill – more ice signs. Better safe than sorry so early in a ride so we dismounted and started walking. Round a bend and even steeper but just about rideable. We haven’t even reached the A25 yet, 5 miles from the start.
Oh well only 61 miles to go. Over the crossroads at Pilgrims Way and down into flat road at last. What could go wrong? Black ice that’s what and 50 riders, mostly Dulwich Paragon stopped blocking the road. "Oi move over!" Down goes Adrian, down goes Cherryl for her second fall of the day. Oh my God are we going to have to walk 60 miles?
Skating through 100m of road which turned out to be the Kent curling team's practice rink The Woolwich re-mounted, again.
We turned left on to the A25 and right into Chart Lane for Toys Hill and only 59 miles to go. Cruising up the hill towards the top went plenty of riders together with The Woolwich.
Usually on a sportive everyone goes in the same direction. What was odd this time was that there were almost as many riders coming back down as going up. "What Now?" More black ice at the top and worse the other side going down plus even more ice at Hever Castle that’s what!
Well The Woolwich had already been on the ground three times in the first 4 miles - it was time for plan B. A quick U-turn and off along the A25 heading for Speedgate. The 5 remaining riders looped around Kent, had their tea and cake and rode back to the start line to pick up Adrian’s car, just in case he got lost. Anyway we wanted the miles and the bruised Woolwich got their 64 miles – just not The Hell of the Ashdown 64 miles. See our route here: http://www.strava.com/activities/113766940
And the sponsored charities had a good day too!