Lowest to Highest – East Sussex

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


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