Bignor and Beacon 100
This road route initially takes in some quiet roads from Burgess Hill towards Hurstpierpoint and Albourne before taking a turn west heading for Henfield and Partridge Green.
From there the route heads north towards West Grinstead before crossing the A24 over to Shipley and then dropping down the country lanes towards Ashington. From there the route heads west towards Thakeham (some cyclocross style riding involved at this point) before heading through West Chiltington, through Pulborough and then again heading south towards West Burton, avoiding the A29, and then heading towards the first hill of note.
The route heads towards Bignor before facing “The Wall”. Starting with inclines of 25% care must be taking to prevent hitting the red and after a few hundred metres the climb starts to level out at a casual 6% until the summit is reached. This road stops at the top of the hill but the views are worth the climb and the road is generally empty as there is no through traffic.
Once reaching the top the views can be enjoyed, a short break to catch your breath and to take on some sustenance (assuming food and drink has been packed) before the descent back to the base. A quick turn on the drops before the steep section and then hard on the brakes to navigate the few pot holes and fallen branches before flying through Bignor and then resuming the westerly direction towards Duncton.
A quick drop through some fast corners and over a small stream and the next hill of note appears as you take in the climb at Duncton that ramps up to 10-11% as a constant gradient. A left hand turn towards the top signals the summit approach before a slight reprise in the incline as you spin between two hills and through a valley before taking a further climb up towards Eartham Wood and then a westward turn towards Goodwood Racecourse. The route follows the race course and, on a clear day, a glance to the left can even show the Isle of Wight on the horizon.
Once through the racecourse it is a left hander and a steep and fast decent to give the legs a slight break as a dropped position is adopted.
As Chichester approaches the route takes a left and starts to head south south east until it reaches the coast at Bognor Regis.
From here it is a fairly coastal route back towards Portslade on the out-skirts of Brighton and Hove. With a tail wind this is a fantastic part of the course that is flat and allows for some respite for the legs after the climbs over the south downs, although this can be a bit of a gamble as this depends on the coastal winds.
From Portslade the route turns north, climbing out of Hove before heading out over Devils Dyke. This section involves climbs ramping to in excess of 11% with some very fast descents that will test your nerve as speeds of up to 50mph can be reached.
After reaching the other side of the South Downs the route then heads east again with a quick steep climb into Pyecombe before tackling Clayton hill and dropping down towards Clayton Parish. Care must be taken on the descent as the right hand turn is near the base. Following Underhill Lane the route heads towards the final challenge and hill of note, the infamous Ditchling Bostal. Twisting over the course of almost 1 mile and an average gradient of 8% this climb is test for fresh legs and will certainly be a challenge after almost 100 miles of riding. On reaching the top a right hand turn can be made into the car park and, if a few coins are carried, an ice cream can be enjoyed with fantastic views to behold, before turning around and taking the twisting descent back down the bostal towards Ditchling.
Based at the end of the ride Ditchling hosts some lovely tea rooms serving great coffee and cake that can be found at the main crossroads, or alternatively The Bull pub that proffers a good selection of ales and food (recommended for a shorter ride).
The route then takes in the final miles heading west towards Keymer and finally heading north back towards the starting point at Burgess Hill. There is one final tester, a small short lump, along Ockley Lane and the signs for Burgess Hill are then in sight.
Great ride with a few good local hills that can pose a challenge for some and some lovely rolling roads that can pull the average speed up and allow for some good coasting.
The Hummingbird Café at Shoreham Airport also services up a good slab of cake for weary legs if sustenance is needed before heading back over the last few climbs on the South Downs.