At the start at Nutfield, while I recovered from the climb up Mid St from the 'Drome, the lovely "easy-pace" G2 group of Lynne M, Sally-Ann, Alison F, Gwyn, Hedley and Frank G gathered around, with Frank kindly volunteering to back mark and Alison S joining us too.
Off down the swooping downhill of Coopers Hill Road, the first surprise was that Hedley's ultra-low geared hybrid clearly had the weight to get him down hill very quickly.
Riding steadily altogether till Turners Hill gave us our first challenge of the day and demanded a short pause for reflection at the top. Paced upped somewhat on the run down to Ditchling to get something in the bank for the average speed.
Confronted by the Beacon, which for me was the first time - Frank uttered the wonderful reassurance that "it wasn't as bad as people make out". Yes, Frank, I believe(d) you.
Anyway everyone got up safely and after a second pause to admire the view, we set off with Sally-Ann and Alison 2 leading the pack at an impressive pace against the head wind (while chatting incessantly too).
On the rush down into the outskirts of Brighton, Hedley yet again surprised us all with his hybrid probably closer to 50 than 40 mph down Coldean lane.
As we approached the finish we lined up four abreast for an RCC sprint up Madeira Drive. 14mph - bang on target.
We found the more adventurous G2 group and some hangers on in the Regency cafe, where we joined in for a great breakfast, which did include a worrying amount of baked beans for some folk!
Offered a choice between the normal Alpine style return and a longer but somewhat smoother scenic route, the group opted for the latter (with a request by Lynne for a tea-stop). We were joined by off-roader Moji and her friend who apparently needed some help to find Surrey! (he did get up the Beacon with a 3 speed Sturmey Archer mind)
Pausing for the photo on the bandstand, we headed off through the industrial countryside of the coast road to Shoreham, cut across the foot/bike bridge over the River Adur to the Boltophs Road ( a couple of little challenges on that road) and on to Steyning. Northwards up the B2135 through Ashurst and Partidge Green to Camelia Botnar for a cuppa (job done - Lynne), and still only 12:30.
After tea, we headed up towards Horsham, round the bypass (where Moji and her friend left to head up towards Dorking) and the A264 and up Wimlands Road to Lambs Green, where lo and behold, who was loitering outside the Lamb Inn but the "other" G2 group, obviously being well led by Ian T! After some banter we took our place discreetly behind them and headed for home(s). Hedley peeled off in Horley, Frank and the ladies went up the A23 at Salfords and Gwyn went on to Smallfields, so no one to encourage me getting up Mason's Bridge road. Heigh-ho.
Thanks to everyone for being lovely company. I think we all must have completed at least 80 miles and I had 13.5 mph on my computer. Great day out!