New Year’s Coffee to Ponder Trips

Plenty of room this time, first bike, first customer

Second attempt for an early morning quiet coffee while I think about possible routes for next year, or should I say this year.    2014 has been a slow year for trips for various reasons, even though I still have various routes planned.  The idea of “I’ve seen it all” started to creep in, the idea that in theory I need to bike a good 20 miles before I reach “new ground”, the idea that there are so little options for getting across the South Downs means the first hour of any trip is pretty dull.   I started to think about extending my range by including a small train ride to start and end with, the amount of distance you can cover in just an hour on a train could take me to completely new places – although I would have to make sure I made it back in time to catch a rain back.

Before I started looking into that, I looked back in my notebook (ie Evernote) to see what I had jotted down and maybe forgot about.   The whole thing is, I don’t particularly like cycling in circles for the sake of it, there has to be a reason for things in life.   So while I look online at cycling map sites and see where others have been, it is not really that exciting if it is just a circle with no reason for doing it.  So a trip to somewhere of interest and back, in a circle, is good.   This means currently I have the following possible trips to do include:

  • shoreham to guildford along the old railway line, back along roads.   Includes old railways so that’s all you need
  • cuckoo line, including routes 2, 21, 20, and 222 – a complete circle done mostly on old railway lines
  • windmills of the Weald…  there are so many windmills around (well 3) it would make a nice summer ride
  • follies, Mad Jack Fuller was an interesting character and built a number of these “pointless” buildings
  • railway/offroad… I am told you can get all the way to London without touching a road (too much)
  • anything towards Southampton, it’s flat mostly in that direction!

Then, going a bit further a field, I still fancy the two day trip around the Sussex border.  Something I had pondered about and saw a friend of mine had been pondering too and even put a possible route up.  I’ll take a closer look and fine tune with an overnight camping spot.

So, that gives at least five possible trips before I look into trains and a possible two day trip.   I notice that after the grand excitement of a proper overnight “tour” in 2013, nothing had happened since.

Let us not forget too, that I still have the normal 50 miles each week during my commute on the other bike, although that route after four years has really become pretty dull and I am say many times I have got to work and suddenly think how I actually could not really remember the how I got there….  Don’t worry (or do?!), I used to find the same commuting longer distances by car too.

I took a gamble today, it is a bank holiday which is always prime time for MAMILs to venture out in packs.  But it is new year’s day, which surely means everyone is still in bed getting over the hang over after partying to see to clock strick 12 like it never does 365 over times of the year.   After a week off work, hearing my alarm go off when it was still dark was not good, it took press presses of the Snooze button to finally get me out of bed.  I could hear the wind through the closed windows, which didn’t really help much.

I forced myself up, looked out of the window to see the bleakness looking back at me.   You can’t only go out on windless sunny warm days… I reminded myself, a couple of times.   I left the house, the wind behind me as I set off for Steyning direction, it was cold but didn’t take long to warm up.   I decided against the off road route along the Downs Link thinking it would most certainly be pretty muddy and not pleasant, seeing as there was low cloud there would not be any fantastic flat countryside vista to be enjoyed anyway.

Not much excitement in the trip up to once again Stan’s Bike Shack, this time coming to Partridge Green from the south, maybe I will go back via Henfield.   I got slightly worried again as I got nearest and started to see much more cycling activity, but as I pulled in they all went straight on.   This time, the carpark was empty, infact the cafe was only just in the process of opening for the day.  Bingo.   Piece and quiet….

I had to wait for things to setup, but this was no problem, I was in no hurry and I welcomed the quiet that this was giving me.   A quick chat, a sausage and egg roll with a coffee was what I was planning and hoping for.   Second time round, things were working out well.   I eat and drank while I planned routes and generally pondered over all things bike and route.  I chatted with the owner and heard plans for the Shack which turned out has not even been open for a year, and yet it is a place that everyone talks about.  It seems so well placed at an hour from home for both outgoing and incoming journeys.     Good luck for the future and the plans.

Coffee was good, food was good.   I opted for a sausage and egg bap, cooked just for me and made for a very good breakfast.   A “test drive” of using a Chromebook with limited internet connection was good.  It turns out that the Shack has free Wifi but I wanted to test out the usability of a Chromebook for when internet is not so good.  I am pleased to say, all went well  (I connected to my phone for the rest in order to see how the battery coped when in such mode).   This is all good,  for the £120 Chromebook with the amazing battery life, no moving parts and all that.

I spent a good hour, typing and chatting now and then, looking things up….   The Shack was pretty quiet but had a steady stream of walkers and cyclists that came and went.   Most were Mountain bikes going along the DownsLink, by the looks of the amount of mud on the bikes!   After a couple of coffees and breakfast, I packed up and left for home, this time going the opposite way round than last time, through Partridge Green and through Henfield.   The weather had not improved and I certainly felt the wind which was before behind me, now infront of me.  On the bike though, it wasn’t cold, which for the 1st of January seemed quite good.

 

Number of coffees: 2

Number of sausage and egg baps: 1

Number of cheery “Hellos” to passing cyclists: 4

Number of cheery “Hellos” back: 1

No Room at the Shack

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I quite fancied a quiet morning ride out to a cafe for coffee and breakfast, take a laptop with me and have a think of possible trips for next year.  It seems 2014 has not been a great year for any real touring trips, at only around 500 miles this year on the Royal it is hardly anything compared to the total mileage of my daily commute that the Highway does.    An early morning ride out in the winter sun to the “local” cycling cafe that I’ve heard all good things about, find a quiet corner with breakfast and a laptop – seemed like a good idea.  After a number of typical winter sunny days, a ride along the Downs Link as the sun comes up sounded quite nice.

It was cloudy and drizzly the next day, a bit windy too.   With the wind coming from the North I decided to take the road upwards and the flatter Downs Link, out in the open, route back again, no country sunrise for me.    I started to think as I set off, it has been a couple of months or so since I have been out on a ride so a bit of time now planning routes nearby and places I want to see could be time well spent.   I stopped off at Shoreham to visit a cash point, the bridge in the early morning was deserted, but did sport a large collection of odd shoes strung up on the fence.   It seemed to be some sort of protest over lack of finishing off the south side of the bridge.  Rightly so, still seems a bit of a mess and slightly embarrassing that this brand new long awaited bridge ends on one side into a bit of a building site with no real direction.

Hanging shoes
Hanging shoes by the Bridge.

 

I continued on, choosing the country road via Botolophs where I would join the Downs Link/Southdowns Way a small part until the main road off to Henfield.   This would be one of the many times today that I would either use or pass the route.   A major cycle highway, but one that remains unpaved meaning in the winter it is more of a rural mud track than anything usable by a bike.    It reminded me of something I read on a cycling blog just the other week which was talking about unpaved cycled paths and just so happened to feature Downs Link as a good example of possibly wasted opportunity.   Reading this, I was quite interested as it is something I too have thought much about and written about in the past too.   You can, in theory, get all the way from Shoreham to Guildford without seeing too much road, but be prepared and take an off road bike with you.  It is suggested it is unpassable in the winter by even that.    If it were paved, then it would be a main link North and South, long distance off the roads, for any bikes.   The blog post talked of people moaning that this haven for nature would be ruined if it were to be paved, forgetting it seemed that only 50 years back it had massive great steam trains thundering up and down all day long.   Sure, there are some hard standing stretches of the route which fair better in the bad weather, but there are some (yet to be ventured by me) parts that look more like long lost forgotten paths through the woods rather than a national cycle route.  With that in mind, even before getting out of Shoreham I left the path to carry on along tarmac.

Leaving the path here, even the old railway lines give up
Leaving the path here, even the old railway lines give up

 

I’ve come up with quite a nice route to get through the Downs, which is a slightly hilly (but nothing too much) ride along the country road and join the Downs Link (again) and Southdowns Way at Botlophs – at which point I cross over to the main road and off up to Henfield.   Bonus is a free water tap, handy for the last 4 miles when coming back home.  I join the main road, letting a couple of road bikes past as they are getting beeped at by a motorcyclist who, although has more than enough room to go past, points and seems to think they should not be there.  Strange angry person.

Riding up to Henfield I started to think that I had never gone up this road before and soon found out that while things like and feel really flat in a car, on a bike you suddenly start to remember that actually there is the odd hill here and there.  Henfield, surrounded mostly by flood plains, is at the top of a hill….    Sunday morning, Henfield is still asleep as I pass through.

The first sign of problems is when I get closer to Partridge Green.  This is the home of the small Dark Star brewery which as a small brewery in the middle of nowhere in Sussex has quite a good reputation.  The village pub, just down the road from it, has it’s own supply of Dark Star beer.   Being on the Downs Link (yep, we join it again), it is ideal for long distance cyclists and walkers and I’m pretty sure there is even an organised offroad cycle ride from Shoreham to the Brewery each year – sounds like a good event.    The old railway line (and so the Downs Link) passes through Partridge Green, give or take the odd new housing estate or two, it is an ideal place to set up business to cater for the cyclists and walkers as a middle way marker between Horsham and Shoreham.

Stan’s Bike Shack is that business.  Last time I came this way there was nothing here, but now a small “shack” has been setup and I’ve heard a great deal about it.  I had visions of cycling out to the shack, sipping on a cup of strong early morning coffee with a bacon sandwich, and looking up things on the laptop, writing plans, generally taking in the early morning piece and quiet.  Stan’s Bike Shack, I’ve heard of plenty which means many others have too.   Sunday morning is prime MAMIL season, lycra covering country roads around the whole of Sussex in close packs.    I wondered if actually a Sunday morning was the most ideal time for a quiet coffee at a cycling cafe and as I drew up to the Shack I first heard the sounds of many enjoying an early morning coffee, bikes parked everywhere, and the small cafe completly full.

Not a problem I thought, I’m a friendly people person who loves the idea of mixing with people and talking about bikes – unfortunately I suddenly remembered I was not.   I thought I would brave it and ventured in, but alas I couldn’t get much further than just in the door where the queue started.  They were doing good business, and good on them too, but the line was too long for me to want to wait, in the Shack it was standing room only, so I opted out and back outside into the piece and quiet once again.   Note to myself, don’t try to go to a popular cycling cafe first thing on a Sunday morning.

No room at the Shack
No room at the Shack

 

The was all a bit of a disappointment (the coffee did smell good too, but it was hardly a place for a quiet relaxed time), I desperately looked around Partridge Green for a small cafe (I knew there wouldn’t be one) before I turned back to head home.  Past the Shack, the numbers had increased and were sitting in the old outside, and onto the Downs Link.  The plan then would be to follow the route all the way back home.

Being winter, the route was deserted, but also muddy in places needing a bit of effort to get through.  I passed the odd dog walker but that was it, making it quite a nice ride across the flat country side and over the old railway bridges.

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I pondered a bit if I should revisit Shoreham to find breakfast there but as I didn’t have a lock for the bike I decided against it and carried on passed Steyning and along the same road I came up on a couple of hours previous.   The Sunday morning MAMIL fest seemed to be in fall swing making the normal quiet Coombes Road into quite a busy place – all good to be part of.  A pity hardly any of the cyclists zooming either towards me or past me returned my nod or cheery ‘Hello’ as we passed – not until I got a a cyclist sitting at the church with a wheel in their hands.  I stopped and offered any help that I could but it appeared that not only had they had a puncture but the tyre itself had split as well.   They were waiting for a friend in a car to turn up, after a short chat they thanked me for stopping and I continued on my way home.

In all, not quite the ride out I was hoping for, but it had been the first real ride for a quite a number of months and so it was good to get out.   I never got to sit down and plan trips for next year, so maybe another time.

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Looks like the cyclepath will finally make it to the airport - all good news
Looks like the cyclepath will finally make it to the airport – all good news

 

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Brighton Breezy 100km 2014

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Last year it was such a nice day out that I was glad to see when the local Brighton & Hove CTC group started to advertise for a repeat performance this year.  Sure, the price had gone up, but only a small bit.  I could never work out how they managed to do it all on the tiny entrance fee last year, it seems their accountant thought the same.  I am still pretty sure they must be only just covering costs, such a huge volunteer effort for manning the checkpoints, signposting the route, and of course the food and drink.  To be honest, without which the day would not be the same.   So small increase, still meant it was great value.

Forecast for a bit of rain later on in the day I made sure I packed required waterproofs.  As would find out during the day it turned out to be the hottest day so far in September and for quite a while!   I packed the bike and got things ready the night before, not being a morning person and not being a breakfast person either.   I’ve tried before going for a long ride without breakfast and it really does not work at all, so instead I almost force myself to have not only breakfast but a large one too.   It’s not fun, but washed down with black coffee I manage.

Last year I went as part of the Sussex Bike Club, this year I entered on my own.  In fact, as newly signed up member of CTC, I could had put that down, but a sole person is how I entered.   Last year the second half was hard going, very hilly and a feeling of constantly trying to catch up with the rest of the group.   This time I was looking forward to taking it at my own touring pace, look around as I biked along and generally enjoy the day.

Leaving the house early the morning mist had not cleared but the low sun was clearly going to turn stronger and clear things off.   The ride along the seafront cycle path from Lancing through to Shoreham was fine, meeting only the odd dog walker and jogger.   Still could not work out why the snack kiosks never open early morning to catch such early morning people, seems such a lost opportunity for both them (making money) and myself (eating bacon sandwiches).  Even the famous cycle/foot bridge at Shoreham was deserted, looking a little bit battered since multiple glass panes get smashed each week – it seems they are having problems in keeping up with them with the replacements.   A bit of a shame, but tends to highlight how society has sunk.

With not going on rides with the Sussex Bike Club these days I have missed my early morning rides through Brighton to get to Lewes.  I then quite enjoyed this one, never much traffic about on an early Sunday morning and you get the nice feeling of leaving Lancing just as the sun is rising and arriving at an early morning Brighton when people are just starting to venture out.

Getting towards Lewes Road and the Vogue Gyratory I found the road closed.   I had heard that they planned to make ‘improvements’ to this busy interchange in order to make it more bike friendly but I didn’t know they had started.  It currently is a bit of a long roundabout with buildings in the middle and a large supermarket.  Scary when you first look at it but actually pretty much straight forward and if you take primary position it is quite safe.   Interestingly, before all this and the large supermarket, it was just another t-junction with an old cinema on the corner.  The cinema was later called the Vogue and was well known for showing XXX films to an ever grateful audience.  Strange to think of a town interchange being named after a porn cinema.   Seeing the Upper Lewes Road closed was quite something, normally a very busy road now deserted during the works, I can only imagine rush hour mornings and evenings cannot be much fun at the moment.

Brighton seems to have gone cycle path mad these last years, something to do with having a Green Party council.   It does mean the majority of people in Brighton are getting a bit fed up as dual carriageways that have been there for decades get turned back into single lane roads with huge cyclepaths either side.   More cars… less road space….  I don’t really get it.    Mind you, Brighton voted for the Green Party and now they are getting the results, it seems it isn’t just all about saving whales and knitting wind farms.

Having lived in Brighton and around this area for many years previous, I have cycled around Brighton and I have never had any problems with either the Vogue Gyratory or the wide dual carriage way of Lewes Road.   Lewes Road is now single lane with lots of lights and painted lines, coloured bits of road.  It looks all pretty but looks very confusing and seems to resolve a problem that there never was, although now there is one as there are huge traffic jams where once traffic ran free.  Likewise, the Vogue Gyratory looks scary but it is not.  They plan to have a painted bit of road inbetween all the lanes and junctions….  I can’t see how that is at all safe and infact suggests otherwise.   The red paint on the road (sometimes green or blue I notice) doesn’t actually protect anyone or mean anything.  I’m no real fan of cycle paths, it would be easier if everyone on the roads (and life) just got on with things and were nice to each other.   I made it through along the wide empty cycle path up to Falmer and signed in at the start check point.

 

I decided there was no point in hanging around so when the first group was ready to set off I joined them.   Probably not a good idea I thought as I started down towards Lewes, the rest in the first group would soon zoom off and leave me.  That in itself was not a problem, and expected, but knowing I have 150 other cyclists behind me all with the same potential to pass me on their way, and never the hope of doing likewise myself, I wondered if it had been a good idea.   As it happens, the first leg up to Waldron is pretty flat and quiet, only after some miles this first group had soon sorted itself out into little packs.  Some I never saw again whereas others kept about the same distance either in front or behind right up to the first stop.     The early morning was now starting to turn into mid morning and the fresh misty air was starting to turn into a cloudless warm day.

I was quite surprised that I reached the hill up to Waldron so quickly.  I am not talking about super fast speed but the ride had been quite fun and leisurely without much thought about things.  The hill soon changed that, even though I knew at the top there would be a nice cup of tea and cake it didn’t make it any easier.   Last year I am shamed to say that I walked up one of the hills, no-one saw, but still… I knew.  I was determined this year it would be different.

The hill was worth it and the supply of sandwiches, cakes, and cups of tea was made even better by it.   To be honest, it is the food and drink that made me come back for a second year!  Cycling is cycling, cycling to get to a destination is what it is really about, if that destination is a full buffet of good homemade food then it’s even more so.   However, there is nothing worse then having high expectation from a previous year and feeling let down when it does not life up to it, always a worry.   I need not had been concern here though as it was even better than before, helped too by the now hot summer day – we were all sitting outside.    Sandwiches, cakes of every type, cups of hot tea, plenty of water and orange squash, plus the new addition in the form of plates of jelly beans!      The cakes were simply amazing, it was hard not to take too much advantage and sample a bit of each.    We all sat, in the sun, discussing food and cycling.  New people arrived as others left, a number of us thought it was a pity we could not just stay here for a while longer.

I did in the end leave, suitably refreshed and ready to tackle the “long route”.  Just out of Waldron the arrows pointed to the left and right, left for the long way, right to get back home.   If I had chosen right then I would be on my way back, home within a couple of hours.   I choose left, the long route, the hilly route.   A nice touch by CTC signage people was plenty of warnings as you started on the long route, “You are on the 100k ride!  Turn back if you have made a mistake”, or words to that liking.   All telling you that turning back would be the wise choice….  The hills started pretty soon and I knew that while we would be going downhill at times, most of the next 20 miles would be uphill.

The groups of cyclists had by now really stretched out and it started to feel like a ride in the country on your own.   Now and then a super fast bike whizzed past as they made their way at super-human speed upwards.  Mostly though, it was just me and the hills until I could hear someone behind me for many miles as we continued the general trend of upwards.   Both of us so close but unable to use energy for talking.  It continued for many miles and after a while there were four of us making our way slowly, it kind of helped in a way, I never had an occasion where walking seemed the only option.   We continued all the way up to nearly Crowborough until the route turned us back towards Waldron.  I was hoping it meant it would all be downhill but it had the strange way of still seeming mostly uphill!

During these hills, our little group had gone from being almost on top of each other to loosing sight of each other.   We shared words during the flat bits but none of us were shy of speeding up or slowing down as needed.  Even so, we all ended up back at Waldron to swap notes, and without even trying to would find ourselves bumping into each other for the rest of the ride.    It was nice to catch up with a fellow touring bike, a Dawes Galaxy.  We both mentioned as we rode together for a while how neither of us had seen many tourers.  A Galaxy and a Royal made it back, side-by-side,  to Waldren at the top of the hill for the second stop.

 

It should all be downhill now, the flawed thinking as I left the village hall for the second time.   This time, the signs only showed the way home and towards Glyndebourne.   I had left on my own but soon caught up with others who over the rest of the journey we would all at times catch up with each other, swapping positions and having a small chat now and then.    We were all very much on our own though as we all at some point reached the busy road passing the Laughton classic car show.   I remember last year along this route, we had got here much later and the show was finishing, it gave us all a great sight of classic cars all leaving.   This year, being much earlier, the show was still on and all I could do was glimpse the odd classic car through the gaps in the hedge as I made my way along.

Out little group all caught up with each other as we made our way back into Lewes, but it was short lived as we soon hit Lewes traffic and traffic lights.   It seemed to take an age to get through and by the time I had reached the Lewes Road back towards Brighton I could see neither anyone in front or behind.   I slogged up this final last part of the journey, the cycle path of doom, the rough pavement that is slightly uphill with all the wind from Brighton and the sea being channelled up against me, the fast cars of the A27 coming the opposite direction.   My speed was pitiful, I was surprised that those of our makeshift group I had left behind in Lewes had not yet caught me up.   Maybe they were suffering just as much fun as I was on this one final bit.

 

 

A cup of tea of two and some cake when I got back to Falmer end the final check point.   Another Brighton Breezy complete, same route with challenges, even better food and drink, great organisation.   What I thought last year and this year too is how much Brighton CTC give on this event, being cyclists themselves and running the event, not being able to take part in the event.  It seems like quite a sacrifice, no pay (I would not think) and no other CTC group locally does a similar event for them to take part in.   Hats off then to CTC Brighton & Hove.

Last year it was getting late when I finished and I was knackered, the weather was turning and in the end I decided to catch the train back home.  A big mistake it turned out as took a couple of hours on the train for a journey that would take around an hour by bike.   This year, I decided to bike the rest of the way home, through Brighton and along the seafront.

It seems it was a day for  events as I went past Coldean and joined a huge line of charity looking cyclists, I wonder if it was a London to Brighton event?    It made the journey into Brighton a bit more interesting but that soon turned to annoyance as we all hit Brighton city centre traffic, buses and taxis.  While I stopped and waited at red lights, huge numbers of the charity cyclists carried on.  While I road responsibly with the traffic, swarms of the charity cyclists battled their way through impossible gaps between cars and buses.   Quite upsetting to observe and I was glad to leave them as they reached their destination at Madera Drive and I took the opposite direction along the seafront towards Worthing.

I got home, just 10 miles shy of 100 miles, I did ponder about doing a quick 10 mile loop around Worthing before I finished…

 

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Number of miles: 90

Number of cakes: lots

Number of silly charity event cyclists nearly crushed by buses: loads

Number of Brighton CTC members requiring congratulations on a good event:  all of them

Number of times having to walk up hills: none!!

 

Lowest to Highest – East Sussex

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An alternative title could be “There is no such things as bad weather…”.    This was always going to be a relatively short ride, a lot different to the West Sussex version, it seems the highest point in East Sussex is on the South Downs just outside of Brighton.  A good job too as the day turned out to be constant rain, sometimes drizzle, quite often down pours.   Not a problem, I had bought a new (cheap) waterproof jacket and had been waiting to try it out.     My previous waterproof had been a bit more expensive good known brand but it failed in every occasion on the way to or from work with water finding its way through the zip in even the lightest shower.   Not a good look for work.   I spent a bit less this time, but the zip looked a lot more waterproof, plus it was a proper cycling rain jacket (small enough to folder up and pack away) so has little reflective bits and a bit to cover your bottom!

A late start as waking up early and seeing the rain did not really make me want to leave my bed but after an hour I managed to convince myself that it was a good idea.   It wasn’t cold, just wet.    I set off, not too surprisingly there were not many people around as I made my way down the seafront cycle path, just the odd wet jogger.   Even the foot/cycle bridge at Shoreham, normally packed full of people, was completely empty.

The ride continued along the seafront, cycle path all the way through to Brighton and then a long slow uphill climb to the highest point in East Sussex, Ditchling Beacon.   I could had done it the other way round of course, taken the short steep climb to the top from the other direction, but that’s not what life is all about!    One or two places where I got lost  trying to following the cycle paths of Brighton, showed me that actually it is a lot easier (and sometimes safer) just to stick to the road.   There seemed one or two crazy turns across multiple lanes in order to reach the next disjointed segment of the paths… until I got to Ditchling Road and started the real journey upwards.

It brings up a lot of memories this part of Brighton having lived and worked in the city for so long, some happy times remembered as I slowly made my way past my old offices, as I slowly made my way past such familiar roads and junctions which once used to be my local neighbourhood.    The hill is not bad at all, it is simply long, the rain had moments of drizzle and then sudden down pours but I was keeping pretty much dry (apart from my head… and my feet… and my hands).

The cows looked pretty fed up with the wet as I passed them, and when out of the low cloud, which I had been riding through for a little while by now, came the sign to warn of a steep decline in the road and then spotted by the side the signpost showing Ditchling Beacon car park!   There is a normally an ice cream van in the car park, it was not there today.

The journey downwards is always quick but sometimes can be pretty tricky and sometimes even as tough as the upward journey.  Ditchling Beacon is steep, infact it’s the pretty much infamous final hill of the London to Brighton cycle ride each year where the road is closed to traffic as thousands of cyclists attempt to climb it as part of one last push before they get to Brighton.   I am sure the majority end up walking it, although to be fair without all the other cyclists attempting to go up it on your own is still a challenge it is far from impossible to do – just put your head down and keep going.    Downhill for me was a challenge, battling the stream of water rushing downwards, the rain hitting me strongly head on, and the constant use of fading brakes….

A small pause at the bottom once I had turned off to a small side road and the start of the journey back home.  I was still pretty much dry but water was dripping off every place that was possible.   I opted out of the direct route back which would had taken me up Clayton Hill and then off either back into Brighton or keeping to that side of the Downs until I got to Steyning.   I didn’t fancy the hill, but also I didn’t fancy the ride alongside a wet A23.    Instead I went slightly more inland and across, past Washbrooks Farm (a possible place to stop for a warm cup of tea, but when I came to it I decided to just keep going).

Interesting times for the south coast and wind farms at the moment.   There has been huge amount of talk and debate and “shocked of Lancing…” type letters going on.  The wind farm, off shore is either a fantastic view or a blot on the landscape depending on who you talk to and when.   For me, it seems fine, something to look at and watch to and from work each day.    The next bit debate is how they get the power from the wind turbines to some sort of centre, it is going to be quite a way inland.   Strange, you always think it would be on the beach somewhere, but power cables run miles to get to where they need to be.  It seems here it will be no different, 10 miles+ of underground cables from shore, passing through Sussex, to their final destination.   At the moment, it is all still in the planning stage but because of that public notices must be placed each time the undergound cables cross a road.   It turns out, lots of small roads will have such cables crossing, the sight of posts with public notices on seems quite regular.    There will not doubt be little disruption across these roads, or massive gridlock… again depending on who you ask and when….

Once back home, my feet were totally wet (water proof overshoes maybe next time?), my legs were a bit wet (cheap waterproof trousers) and my top was…. well a bit wet but given the amount of prolonged head on downpouring rain, I could forgive.  It had certainly done better than my previous waterproof jacket and had cost me not a great deal.

 

Number of miles: 38.4

Top Speed: 30mph

Average Speed: 12.3mph

Amount of Rain: all the time, constant….

Number of slightly damp buttocks: 2

I’m not a morning person…

A handy local circle route, mostly away from cars

… is what Tom told me.  It is not that he didn’t want to come on this bike the other weekend, it was because mornings are just a time to suddenly wake up and jump on your bike.   I can understand that, although the promise of breakfast at McDonalds normally gets me on my way.  I’ll work on that with Tom, but for now he was a bit upset to miss out on the trip the other week which me and Jack went on, he was happy to miss out on McDonalds for a later start.  The plan would be the same route as me and Jack went on without the detour for breakfast.

A sunny and warm ride along the seafront cycle path with the wind behind us, we soon got to Shoreham which was in the middle of a food festival from what I could make out.   We managed to escape the groups of Sustrans fund raisers on the Shoreham bridge.   It seems to be a bit of a trend this year of small groups of people representing Sustrans wearing florescent bibs and stopping people on their bikes using the cycle path.   Depending on the day will depend where they camp out, anywhere from Worthing all the way through to Shoreham.   They are telling you how good the cycle path is and trying to get you to subscribe to their cause.   Not a problem really and could be quite a good cause.  Over the summer, as someone who uses the routes they camp out on each day, it has become a pain.  I don’ t know if they are people working for Sustrans or one of these charity businesses that hassle you door-to-door.    Escaping them today was a success, although I could had pointed out to them that while the cycle path is good, the idea of shared space across the bridge and down Shoreham’s main shopping street during market day, is one that does not work.   This was demonstrated as we walked (no room to cycle) through Shoreham trying to make our way through the crowds between cafe tables, market stalls, and on street bands.   Even without a bike, it didn’t look easy.

We made it through Shoreham and got onto the old railway line, the Downslink and started the bumpy ride (come on Sustrans….).  The weather was changeable but here it was sunny and warm, the bike path was in good use with a mixture of families and lycra cyclists on mountain bikes – lots of cheery hellos as we all passed each other.

All the time we were passing signposts with 24/7 written on them, some fun run or bike ride?   The answer soon came when a group of cyclists all wearing Dark Star 24/7 tshirts came by.   It reminded me how Dark Star, a small Sussex brewery, is placed on the edge of the Downslink cycle route at Partridge Green.  I had heard of organised bike rides to visit, seems a nice idea and worth doing with a friend one day.  It looked like this weekend it was all on,  a 24 bike ride raising money for Cancer Research and of course a chance to visit the brewery and maybe buy some bottles to take home….   Maybe next year….

We stopped where the Downslink met the Southdowns Way, a handy signpost showing the direction and mileage to the next places to note.  Devil’s Dyke only 4 miles away…  we talked about maybe next time, it’s all off road but there’s a cafe when you get there….

At this point, it was time to take the road back home.   The normal not so interesting route home all along the road, up a couple of hills, across a main road and through the airport.   Evidence of the airshow that will be happening next weekend were well in force from the no-parking enforcement signs to marques setup on the airfield.

We had a small bit of rain which caused no problem, but the wind we were now having to battle against was making it quite hard.  We soon got to the sailing club and were able to turn off the seafront and make our way home for the last bits out of the wind.   A successful ride, at last, without breakfast.  Maybe next time we will take lunch with us.

 

Number of miles: 13.3

Top Speed: 17mph

Number of Sustrans fundrasiers: too many!