www.dadswell.co.uk  Mostly cycling records, mostly on three wheels

Purley to Eastbourne and back                 Back to Rides in 1996


This was my first foray into ‘Regional’ records.  The provocation for this action related to my professional colleague, Mr Longland.

His 1996 season had been interrupted (to say the least) by a couple of crashes and injuries.  The situation which we found ourselves in was that he was enthusiastic to make an RRA attempt, but was unsure of his form.  Normally, there would be a 100 mile Time Trial which could have been entered.  However, we were already well into September, and so nothing suitable was available.  The only answer was to set something up, and a Southern RRA attempt seemed a fair idea.

After making enquiries, I discovered that Alec Wingrave was the man to talk to.  Whilst I’m sure that he was pleased that someone was interested in this rather dormant organisation, he did point out to me that he was intending to “wind it all up next year”.  That plan is now postponed!

There are  seven place-to-place rides on the SRRA list, and we chose Purley to Eastbourne and back for the “test ride”.  I produced a schedule for Glenn, and (rather on impulse) adapted a copy for me to make an attempt on the tricycle - just for fun.

We selected our day, and were fortunate to find the weather being kind - calm and pleasant.

I started my ride at 0930, in patchy fog.  By the time Glenn left the start at 1030, things were a little more pleasant. 

The start point was at Blindley Heath, about 10 miles south of the Purley turn, with the North Downs in between.  The only tough section in the first hour was the return trip along the Carshalton bypass.

Once back past  Alec Wingrave, the timekeeper who waited at the start/finish, I was on my way to East Grinstead.  After that, climbing begins, and life is fairly tough along through Forest Row and over the Ashdown Forest.

The route is now able to benefit from a few bypasses, which might be longer than the town-centre routes, but are a lot less hassle.  According I made some useful gains over schedule, and was 12 minutes up by the Boship roundabout. 

My schedule, incidentally, was for a 4hour 55mins ride, for the 99 miles.  I didn’t have much idea of what time was sensible to expect.  Similarly, with Glenn’s schedule, I had just guessed that he might record 4hours 10 minutes.

So I pressed on towards Eastbourne, and was pleased to see some helpful (vital!) marshalls were out.  Indeed, when I reached the turn point, I didn’t recognise it as such, and would happily have gone straight past!  Fortunately, Mike Hayler persuaded me to turn around and go back from whence I had come.

As I approached the Boship roundabout on my return, I saw Glenn on his outward leg, and was pleased to see that he was also running ahead of schedule.  I thought that I might get to be 20 minutes up by the finish, but I knew that the remaining miles had got some hard bits waiting for me.

Roadsigns were amusing, as they often are, telling me that no matter how far I travelled, there were still 23 miles to cover before I reached East Grinstead.  After Nutley, there was an appalling grind up on to the plateau of the Ashdown Forest.

Luckily, I had remembered that Wych Cross signifies the start of a substantial downhill section.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten the crippling climb a few miles later.  Thankfully, you soon approach and pass East Grinstead, leaving only the twisting last few miles before the lights of Blindley Heath come into sight.

Yes, since this route was last used for a record attempt, a set of traffic lights have appeared at the south end of the hamlet.

I was ready for problems, but fortunately, they seem to show green for the main road (ie us) most of the time.  I was through, and soon past Alec, for a final time of 4hours 35mins and 44 seconds.  This ripped over 40 minutes off the previous record, and was only 9 minutes slower than the bike record.

So, I quickly got changed, and we waited for Glenn.  He duly arrived, with a time of 4hours 6mins 55seconds, taking almost 20 minutes off Pete Crofts record.  In the circumstances, I think everyone was happy with the day’s work, and we enjoyed complimentary sandwiches and coffee in the pub outside which we had started and finished the rides.  The landlord was quite excited about what was going on.  We even had to pose for photographs!

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