Leaving the HQ car park at Ditchling Recreation Ground, you head east towards Lewes, the South Downs looming over your right shoulder. Before reaching Lewes, you swing north and head for Ashdown Forest, via Barcombe, Spithurst, Sharpsbridge, Piltdown, Fletching and Nutley, all on unclassified, quiet, pretty roads. You’ll get some speed up on this stretch, although the last few km to Nutley is a draggy uphill.
You then spend time in the beautiful Ashdown Forest before swooping round the side of Weir Wood Resevoir and up towards the feedstation on Saint Hill (RH19 4JU).
After the feedstation you head west for Turners Hill. You can really push the pace along here on a gently rolling stretch with a great road surface as you go straight though Turners Hill and a few miles after swing left and south, heading for Ardingly Resevoir. As you approach the reservoir, you turn right for Balcombe on Mill Lane, which has a very technical descent and then a steep climb up the other side – it’s only a few minutes of pain, though.
From Balcombe, you head west for Handcross, through that village and bear right and soon you go left and start the very fast southern leg of the course, which takes you via Warninglid and Wineham down to the B2116 thenB2117, where you turn left and head for Hurstpierpoint.
At Hurstpierpoint, you join the B2116 again and head east.
At the traffic lights just before Hassocks you turn right onto the A273 and head south for about a mile until you swing left onto the B2112. You’re only a few miles away from Ditchling and the Beacon now.
When you get to the village, it’s a right turn and the last bit of flat before you conquer the summit finish.
The Beacon is about 1km in length, averaging 10%. It’s painful if you want to get it done fast, but you can spin up it in 10 minutes or so if you want to. At the summit, get off the road to the right, get your timing tag registered by a marshall, and enjoy the panoramic views for as long or as short as you want, before going back down the Beacon into Ditchling and back to HQ for a warm drink and some pasta.
Overall distance: 104km, 65 miles
Total ascent: 1712 metres
Apart from the Beacon, the ascents are mostly draggy climbs or short 2-3 minute hills to punch your way up – no other major climbs, although you may disagree afterwards!