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Sportive Blog: Gavin tackles the Sussex/Surrey Scramble

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Blog Entry: 23 June 2012
Blogger: Gavin Hughes


Our sportive blogger Gavin Hughes tackles UK Cycling Events' Sussex/Surrey Scramble.

Sussex/Surrey Scramble - the official end to my holiday. Nine days off a bike and boy did that tell. This event started in Pulborough - and was a forty minute train journey away.

I gave this sportive too little respect - and paid a hefty price. On the back of recent Golds and Silvers in the May Epics - I thought I would ease myself back in to the saddle and opted for the Standard (64 miles) event.

Piece of cake and flapjack for a bloke like me! Also - what's a mere 1K of elevation? I have done that on my fixie! Sixty miles! Pah! I'll be back for lunch and maybe pop up Box Hill a few times as a warm down.

In fact - so confident was I that this would be a doddle - I opted to put a further 15 miles each way on the days mileage - by cycling over the North Downs to and from Redhill railway station where the trains to Pulborough stopped. I felt I could do with the climbing practice - and this sportive has nothing like the hills I am used to!

And now - here I sit typing - which is about the only movement I can do without wincing in pain, penance for my crass arrogance and misjudgment.

I missed the Gold - by four minutes - and am struggling for excuses. Inclement weather, a week off, putting on a few pounds quaffing Leffe and scoffing French cheese - but if honest - I was too cocky.

I was spat out the back of more than one group of riders including a bunch of paper lads out delivering hefty Sunday supplements. I just didn't have the legs. The route was flattish - but even on the climbs - I had nothing and was left gasping for air. From the start the pace was frantic - and I probably started too quickly. The first climb was the highest - and the toughest - and the day was doomed from that point on. I knew my time was poor when I arrived at the finish line after 64 miles and 4hrs 4mins...

Check out UK Cycling Events' Sussex/Surrey Scramble video highlights

As an aside - I came home via Pebble Hill at the back of Box Hill. I know this route well - as I had an old VW that died more than once on that steep ramp. Now I know how it felt. I lost my vision when the Garmin was reading 18% elevation - and I am certain it was getting steeper. It's a good climb - but can be busy with cars - my advice is to try and do it early in the day. I am not sure if it is included in the Olympic route or not - lack of new tarmac would suggest it is not.

For now though somewhere in the Great ScrapYard in the sky - there is a VW Golf Karman looking down and enjoying the pain of its one-time owner.