It feels like a long time since I wrote one of these, mainly because we now do the Podcast but it’s not exactly a direct replacement, so will try and keep it up to date.
This blog is all about a ride that we are doing on Saturday 3rd August- TCC Gravel Chaser. It is open for anyone to join us- read on to find out more.
We want to do rides that make people want to read about, hear about and join in with- challenges, races, epics. So if loads of people turn up, fantastic! If a few turn up, also fantastic- we are riding and doing it as friends anyway. They are free as it is just a ride- but with the format, it becomes more than a ride.
What is Gravel Chaser?
-It’s free as it is a group ride between friends
-111 miles- 99% offroad CLICK TO SEE ROUTE
-Mixture of fireroad, singletrack, gravel and field
-Drop bars only, 40c maximum tyre width
-Group ride with 8 timed segments. The fastest gets 1 point, second fastest gets 2 and so on. Segments are between 2mins and 10 mins long- a mixture of downhill, flat and uphill, sometimes all three in one!
-At the end, the person with the lowest points is the winner.
-Between segments, the group ride together having fun and supporting eachother.
-Places to stop and eat- this is a ride where supporting eachother to complete the challenge comes first
-Prizes and awards for a variety of different categories, so it isn’t just about the fastest people. There will be a top 5 for the fastest segment times but also awards for things like: most improved rider, best climber, best descender, roleur award, gravelcross mentality, best snacks, worst mechanical and whatever else we can think of!
-Riders must bring with them everything they need for repairs etc and a bike that is ready to take on the challenge. There will be brief stops for food but some sustinance is a good idea to bring along!
The ride starts at 6:30am at Roundstone Pub just outside East Preston- which is just West of Worthing. There is free parking.
Join this Strava group to be eligible for segment timing: TCC GC STRAVA
The Route goes over Highdown Hill and up onto the South Downs via some technical descending and open fireorad climbing. It then descends quickly down to the A24 and back up to Chanctonbury via the famous climb.
A technical descent follows into Steyning where the ride hits the Downs Link. It follows the DL all the way up to Guildford with opportunities for stops and food along the way. It then follows back down the DL and heads West at Henfield, where riders traverse the fields and farms of Keymer and Hassocks heading towards Ditchling. However it is not Ditchling Beacon you encounter. It is Streat Bostal- its better, steeper, harder cousin. From there, the route follows the SDW back East going up and down the vicious climbs and descents until it then goes South to Cissbury ring, back over Highdown and Finish. A good day’s riding in the bag.
The Racing Segments
Click the titles to see the segments
The first segment goes from the bottom of Chanctonbury from the car park and up round the corner to the first gate you encounter. Time can be lost if you blow up early- plus you have 90 miles still to ride and race- do you want to go all in? Remember, it isn’t time you are after, it’s points. A tricky climb that really ramps on loose gravel at the top- save something for after the climb as you have quite a distance left.
Very soon after Race for the Gate comes the second segment. A technical, tricky descent with plenty of lines to take for overtaking and plenty of ways to lose time if you aren’t paying attention. There is a block to hop at the end with a quick sprint for the finish line 100m after. Losing 400ft in such a short distance means riders will need to keep their wits about them.
As the route enters the Downs Link, a fantastic section awaits. Fast down hill, short uphill, another fast downhill, steep and rocky uphill, sharp right and a long, fast donhill before it drops away to the left with rocks everywhere- line choice is key. It then flattens out for the remainder of the segment but there is plenty of time to sprint for the bridge.
A flat and very tactical segment because it is around 10 minutes worth of riding along the gravel of Downs Link. Do you break away and try and work with another or wait for the sprint? Do you want to save energy for future segments?
After a quiet middle section to allow riders to recover and refuel- the next segment is going south along the Downs Link. A short, flast segment with a kicker at the end to separate people. Not much room for passing so positioning is key- and remember- there’s some climbing to come.
A big one now. Streat Bostal is hard enough, but you also have to race along the SDW towards Ditchling and that is not an easy section- leg sapping grass with some tricky lines. Streat starts hard and gets harder, rounding a hairpin before getting steeper and steeper until you’re at around 30% for the final 10m- oh and its a terrible surface- Gravelcross
It’s beyond tough now and yet this is a very tricky descent and climb- loose flint and chalk make for a surface you cannot switch off for. Down first, a tight right and then a long climb up towards Cissbury Ring. Every point counts so chase whoever is infront.
The final section and so close to home. Up the ever-steepening Highdown Climb, across the top, down a steep and bumpy descent and then flat out down some downhill singletrack, it flattens at the end and finishes on top of the bridge. Leave nothing out there!
So there we go, a bit of a rundown. If you would like to join us, check the Facebook Event and Strava group linked earlier.