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Managing Ditchling Beacon - a local's perspective

Thursday 5 January
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Contrary to what you might think Ditchling Beacon is not that steep - what it really is is long. It goes on for ever..

Except it doesn't. Nothing goes on forever and riding the Beacon is really a mind game. You need to know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. So here goes. The first thing is to note that the route up from Ditchling is not quite flat, so take it easy if you come that way. You want to be nicely rested at the bottom of the hill not already puffing and panting. Then have a swig of water, take off an extra layer and get yourself in a nice low gear, because the start is the steepest. Don't forget that! If you can get past the house on the right you just need to do more of the same, it's not going to get any worse.

There are nine twists and turns. Five twists take you into the hill and four turns take you back out again. It is the joins between the twists and turns that tend to be steepest, but there are no flat bits (sorry!). The road is busy and you have a right to take up space. Local cars are used to having to wait so don't worry about them. They may huff and puff but you do yourself and them no favours if you hug the edge. That said, you are not going to fall off the edge, it's protected all the way up and there are no potholes at time of writing (5/1/23).

Now count the turns so that you know where you are and how much more there is to go. Don't forget - just four of them. The first turn away from the hill is the steepest and takes you past two houses.  The second has no view. The third has a view opening out over the weald below, and the fourth has a sign warning you about horses and around sixteen thin reflective bollards which are good for counting. I say around because each time I get a different number, but it doesn't matter because when you have counted them you are at the top. Do not let cars overtake you here - it's really narrow! Also be prepared for a blast of wind. You have been protected all the way up but now the full force of the wind can hit you.

One last thing - if you are going to turn right into the carpark at the top for an ice-cream stay in a low gear - there is a bit more climbing to do. Ditchling Beacon gives you a real sense of achievement so give it a go!