Sometimes you pass a road and wonder just where it goes. That had been my question for some while on this road. Consulting the local oracle (Tony) he reliably told me that it took you around the other side of Kingley Vale. He reckoned that it’d be fine for the first half but on the return loop it would be difficult.
He was, of course, completely right. Never underestimate local knowledge! In my pursuit to try and add some fitness to my tank before Flanders I am also trying to re-hone my skills. It’s been too long since I’ve ridden the Flemish Pavé with no trips riding over there last year. I rode Roubaix, but that’s a different beast altogether. What we lack in pavé, we more than make up for in flint rock covered bridle paths. These can provide the skill test that I am after, but as they are not tightly packed together the ride isn’t the same.
The first half was a dirt road experience, and great fun to ride. With the ground being frozen it was probably a lot easier than if it’s been pouring with rain. Once on the top of Kingley Vale it became more rutted and generally more churned up due to the horse riding that occurs around that area. Past this flat section it was the flint that scatters along the hills that surround the South Downs that came out to play. Conti 4 Seasons pumped up to a 110 psi really wasn’t the best choice here making control and braking an additional core and bicep work out. This section became much slower as the decent, although nothing for a CX or MTB, proved to be a little much for the Continental Style (see Rapha bikes, mines a budget version!) winter bike that I use.
This takes me back to the conversations that I’ve had with Scott (@girodilento) about that Unicorn that is the perfect winter bike. Having had lots of fun this morning navigating this bridleway it makes me realise that maybe the winter bike with wider slick tyres is actually what I need when the Dora the Explorer gets the better of me. I’m going to try it on my CX bike, but maybe with touring style tyres, a bit like the bike that Richard Hallett has been riding recently.
The moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to try something new, you might just be surprised with the outcome. Sorry, no photo’s