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Hell of the Ashdown 22nd February 2015

March 3, 2015

Why am I here?’ We’ve all asked that question after a pre-dawn alarm call and hurried preparations as we get ready to embark on another test of personal endurance. In my case it was worse - I was going to Hell. On a freezing February morning I was in a group of cyclists huddled together shivering at the start line of the Hell of the Ashdown sportive, listening to a marshall explaining that the route had been altered because of ice on the roads and imploring us to ride safely. Last winter I tore my quad after coming off on ice and missed a month’s training. I was very nervous.

 

 

It all started in January as I was searching for pre-season challenges. We triathletes love pain (allegedly) and the Hell of the Ashdown sounded painful. It’s organised by Catford Cycle Club and at around 110 km, with 1500m of climb, sounded like the perfect way of gauging how my bike stamina was holding up after a winter mix of turbo sessions, spin classes and the occasional tentative foray outdoors. Glancing through the entry list, it was clear that plenty of others had the same idea, with over 60 triathletes taking part. Thirteen London clubs were involved, with Windrush and Greenwich Tritons having the largest representations

 

My start line nerves were quickly swept aside by the numerous marshals on the course, eager to give warnings about road conditions and hazards. As a taste of things to come, in the first few kilometres we hit the short 25% Cudham Test Hill and not long after we were on the long drag up Toys Hill. Well warmed up by now and with the sun shining, the pace quickened. These were new roads to me but we were soon racing past Hever and up Uckfield Lane, part of the Hever Castle Triathlon route. The relentless roller coaster continued, culminating in another long climb from Forest Row to Ashdown Forest Heights, at the top of which was a much needed feed station. Here, hot drinks and cakes provided sustenance before setting off to tackle Kidds Hill, rather ominously referred to as ‘The Wall’. The grinding ascents and exhilarating descents kept coming until we reached Star Hill, just 15km from the finish. This was a real ‘sting in the tail’ and to make matters worse, the earlier sunny weather had changed to icy winds and driving sleet. The end couldn't come soon enough and the finish banner was a welcome sight.

 

Well, I made it to Hell and back. Hats off to the organisers, marshals and helpers who made sure that the large field could take part safely and could go home knowing that they had been tested. To quote one of the comments on the event’s website ‘I'm beginning to think I should sin more. Hell has lovely marshals, tea and cake, and sunshine!’

 

The Hell of the Ashdown  sportive is organised by Catford Cycle Club and run every year in February. Visit www.hell.gb.com for details.

Why am I here?’ We’ve all asked that question after a pre-dawn alarm call and hurried preparations as we get ready to embark on another test of personal endurance. In my case it was worse - I was going to Hell. On a freezing February morning I was in a group of cyclists huddled together shivering at the start line of the Hell of the Ashdown sportive, listening to a marshall explaining that the route had been altered because of ice on the roads and imploring us to ride safely. Last winter I tore my quad after coming off on ice and missed a month’s training. I was very nervous.

 

It all started in January as I was searching for pre-season challenges. We triathletes love pain (allegedly) and the Hell of the Ashdown sounded painful. It’s organised by Catford Cycle Club and at around 110 km, with 1500m of climb, sounded like the perfect way of gauging how my bike stamina was holding up after a winter mix of turbo sessions, spin classes and the occasional tentative foray outdoors. Glancing through the entry list, it was clear that plenty of others had the same idea, with over 60 triathletes taking part. Thirteen London clubs were involved, with Windrush and Greenwich Tritons having the largest representations

 

My start line nerves were quickly swept aside by the numerous marshals on the course, eager to give warnings about road conditions and hazards. As a taste of things to come, in the first few kilometres we hit the short 25% Cudham Test Hill and not long after we were on the long drag up Toys Hill. Well warmed up by now and with the sun shining, the pace quickened. These were new roads to me but we were soon racing past Hever and up Uckfield Lane, part of the Hever Castle Triathlon route. The relentless roller coaster continued, culminating in another long climb from Forest Row to Ashdown Forest Heights, at the top of which was a much needed feed station. Here, hot drinks and cakes provided sustenance before setting off to tackle Kidds Hill, rather ominously referred to as ‘The Wall’. The grinding ascents and exhilarating descents kept coming until we reached Star Hill, just 15km from the finish. This was a real ‘sting in the tail’ and to make matters worse, the earlier sunny weather had changed to icy winds and driving sleet. The end couldn't come soon enough and the finish banner was a welcome sight.

 

Well, I made it to Hell and back. Hats off to the organisers, marshals and helpers who made sure that the large field could take part safely and could go home knowing that they had been tested. To quote one of the comments on the event’s website ‘I'm beginning to think I should sin more. Hell has lovely marshals, tea and cake, and sunshine!’

 

The Hell of the Ashdown  sportive is organised by Catford Cycle Club and run every year in February. Visit www.hell.gb.com for details.

 

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