Escape to the country; where the grass is green and the girls are plenty. Arundle mountain biking.

PP and I were off the other day. Being 'Big Men' we'd organised life so that our children were elsewhere at school-time end, and so we were free for a whole day. Not just the day either; until it was dark and spooky.

What to do? Bit of DiY, food shopping, get haircuts? Coffee and a chat in town?

Nope, Amberley for a 30+ mile loop of the South Downs. Why not? I've been ill for two months' and off the bike since Christmas, so an excessively long ride on minimal fuel, miles from home sounded good to go. 'Big Men' are clever like that.

I'm not going to describe the route for the good reason that we kind of made it up as we went along. Parked in Amberley, followed the river to Arundle for tea and coffee, found a trail out of town and then headed off for the highest point around these parts. There was a lot of map reading, and not any "we're lost" moments as it is all reasonable straightforward.

Now we left the car at 10:00am and got back at 16:00 with effectively only the one café stop in Arundle to show for it. The rest of the time we were on the bikes. And they don't do flat around those parts. You go up for ages until your thighs hurt, and then go down a bit of double-wide for five minutes. Repeat over and over again.

It was not easy. It wasn't helped by us looking at the map, spotting two choices; easy or hard? Easy is usually a bit dull, hard always has reward. You get out what you put in. So by day's end, after fifteen decisions where the harder route was chosen, it was automatic that given a choice between a silly, granny ring climb, or meander through some woods, the lung busting climb would win.

We were certainly grateful for the car at the end, and a chance to sit down. But within five minutes of driving away, we were talking about coming back. Why? Well it was a challenge for a start. See a ridiculously big hill, ride to the top of said hill. It was a nice change riding somewhere new. And thirdly I wanted to introduce PP to exactly what it is like to ride the South Downs Way. One suspects he had a notion of doing the entire route in a single day. Perhaps he still does, at least now he knows how painful a place it is.

The ride stats? No idea. It was an easy 50km and we rode from sea level to 300m more times than was healthy. Fueling was not my strong point. I'd boiled three eggs for protein, two pork pies for lard and two bananas because, well, they're fruit. The bananas I ate pretty much instantly as they were heavy. The eggs were my mid point drink. Drink? Yup for some reason I'd forgotten to actually boil them. Kind of key that, boiling of boiled eggs. As we were in the middle of nowhere I was forced to drink them. How they'd not broken in my pack over all the miles? Anyway, raw cold egg tastes oddly like cooked egg so all was not lost. PP did look at me sideways from then on though.

Neither of us drank enough. One litre for 50km? That'll do, especially as I had a coffee in town.

What would I change next time? Amberley. I'd start elsewhere as it took us an hour on the bikes to get to Arundle. You try riding through sodding bog. That was hard. And, it must be said, slightly pointless.

On a summers day, and perhaps riding the footpath, yes, give it a go as the view is lovely. Possibly look at Arundle itself [lovely place, why not?] or Storrington as start points. Basically anywhere with more than a single 'phone box for entertainment. I like Amberley, yet it was just too far from facilities. Arundle is designed for tourists, always has been, so is chock full of food places. Storrington, however, has an excellent bike shop yet not much else - bit of a retirement home you see.

Give it a go. Get an OS map, drive down, ride up some hills.