The next time you’re on a club ride have a look around and see if you can spot anyone staring at a plant, discussing historic sites, marvelling at geology or chasing butterflies. It’s just possible you’ve found a South Downs National Park Ambassador.
These strange creatures are found all along the South Downs Way and their role is to promote the delights of the National Park. On ‘our’ section of the South Downs there are 11 Ambassadors and a couple more over in Eastbourne. Their role is really simple. They chat, they smile and they enthuse about the wonderful countryside and its wildlife inhabitants. Ambassadors seek to encourage walkers, horse and bike riders to have fun in a responsible, environmentally friendly manner. Our ambassadors might have a little bias towards cycling, but can you blame them? The South Downs has something for every kind of cyclist to enjoy. As well as the famous South Downs Way to explore there are 1,200 km of car-free bridleways across the National Park, miles of leafy country lanes and old railway trails including the Downs Link and Centurions Way.
And, did you know, that the 160km long South Downs Way is the only UK’s National Trail which is fully traversable by bike? There are many ways to enjoy it. You could ride along the ridge to reach Ditchling Beacon and enjoy the view or cycle along the Hampshire Hangers and single track mountain bike trails at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
With so many tracks, trails and leafy lanes to discover and great places to stop for locally produced food and drink there’s never been a better time to discover the South Downs by bike. Oh, and if you spot a South Downs Ambassador be sure to offer a smile and say ‘Hi’.
Astronomers think that summer starts on the summer solstice (21st June) but meteorologists and cyclists know that it really starts on the first day of June. It’s now the 3rd June and the weather conditions for today’s Sunday morning cycle rides were perfect: warm, dry and virtually no wind. Yes. Summer has certainly arrived.
The three road cycling groups, the Tourers, Intermediates and Sportives met at the Martello Tower at 8.30am. The destination was Horam so the tourers took the direct route and headed northwards to Horam. However, the sportives went west and the intermediates went east but arrived at the Lakeside Café in Horam before the tourers! Perhaps that’s not surprising as the tourers like to chat and admire the countryside.
It was great to see so many other cyclists on the roads; it almost felt as if we were cycling in France although, of course, we were on the opposite side of the road.
There will be more such cycle rides during the summer so it’s worth keeping an eye on the Rides Calendar.
Incidentally, there are three touring rides each week, on Tuesday and Thursday as well as on Sunday. Our Tuesday touring rides now incorporate sections of shorter, flatter routes aimed at those wanting to get back into cycling. We call this ‘Easy Touring’ and the typical route distance is 11 miles. This Tuesday, we’ll be going to Ripe. Details are on the Rides Calendar.
It’s a great time of year to cycle along the Cuckoo Trail. Spring has well and truly sprung; there’s an abundance of bluebells, primroses and wild garlic in the hedgerows and woodland glades, the birds are in full song and, of course, it’s traffic-free.
Seven of us cycled along it today from Hailsham to Heathfield, a distance of almost eight miles. It’s a gradual climb so nothing too challenging but it probably took us about an hour to cycle as we pedalled along (at 8 mph) admiring the wild flowers and listening to the bird song.
At Heathfield we had elevenses at the café in the Co-op supermarket. It’s not the sort of place where we normally have a refreshment stop but, on Joe’s recommendation, we gave it a try. Great! Good quality food and drink at competitive prices. We’ll go there again.
It was a super ride back via Lions Green and Muddles Green to Exceat; all downhill apart from a couple of lumps.
Was today, 6th March, the first day of Spring? It certainly felt like it as we cycled along the country lanes on our way to Ripe. The sun was shining, the air felt almost warm compared to the chilly winds of last week and there was no hint of rain. The skylarks were in full song, there were primroses flowering in the hedgerows and daffodils blooming in cottage gardens. Yes, Spring has arrived. It all made for really pleasant cycling but the icing on the cake was our stop in Ripe at one of our favourite cafés, Ripe Village Stores.
So cyclist friendly, wonderful service, superb refreshments and reasonably priced; it’s the perfect café stop for us.
Then it was back to Seaford via Chapel Hill; we can’t get enough of Chapel Hill. We usually cycle up it twice on our inland rides; on the Lullington side for the outward trip and on the Wilmington side for the return trip.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable Springtime touring ride; there will be many others over the next couple of months with some including café stops at Ripe Village Stores. And, if you don’t like hills and would prefer some flat touring, watch out for my next post later this week. Dave and me have a cunning plan!
Some of you will have noticed that there is a new ride featuring on the calendar this Sunday, the ride entitled “Funday Ride” which will be led by Roy Francomb.
The new ride is aimed to run at a level just below our Sunday Improvers ride. The Improvers group has progressed and raised the bar as to the mileage and terrain we cover, leaving a gap for a slightly lower grade ride on a Sunday. Roy has kindly offered to run the “Funday” ride. This ride will be for those who want a slightly less challenging MTB with a coffee and cake stop on a Sunday.
Where & when possible we will try to arrange for the Funday & Improvers ride to meet up for Coffee & Cake at some point on the ride or at the end of the ride.
So if you fancy getting out on a Funday ride you can contact Roy via our ride leaders contact page.
Paul Sandles / Roger Lambert / Roy Francomb
Improvers / Funday Ride Leaders
Saturday, July 1 was a busy day for the club. It started a few days before with a plea for help as our usual Dr Bike ‘doctors’ were unavailable. Requests for help on the Cycle Seahaven Facebook page (and closed group page) remedied that and we ended up with more helpers than we’ve ever had previously.
The team established ourselves on the usual pitch outside Seaford Police Station and before long the first of the thirteen bike ‘casualties’ arrived. Typically these are rusty bikes that have been pulled out of sheds by their owners in the hopes they can start riding them again in the summer. The vast majority of which just require proper lubrication and safety checks (the bikes not the owners).
The team had a few punctures to contend with as well, which given the mechanical skills of one of the volunteers proved to be entertaining. Formula One this isn’t and if you’ve never seen a grown man wrestling (and losing to) a child’s pedal cycle then perhaps you should volunteer.
The next Dr Bike is in the Meridian Centre, Peacehaven on the 15th of July between 10 am and midday.
Later in the day…..
Ellie started her Women’s Festival of Cycling ride from the White Lion. She took a group on a 24-mile cross-country route through the forest and then onto the South Downs Way above Eastbourne. From there they descended into Birling Gap before returning to the forest.
Judging by the comments on Facebook this was a bit like trying to herd cats as some of the riders kept getting distracted by butterflies, caterpillars and every other living creature known to man. When not pursuing said butterflies on a bike (to get photos for a member of the group), she was trying to locate others that had wandered off. What is it about teachers and their need to misbehave when not in school? A sharp blast of the whistle and order was restored.
Once back in the forest the group were given goody bags kindly provided by Cycling UK to celebrate the festival. It appears that the ‘bum butter’ provided in little pots within the bag can be mistaken for lip salve (always read the label!).
If you didn’t know, Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival of Cycling runs for the whole of July. The aim is to encourage more ladies to ride (only 20% of UK bike riders are female). Cycle Seahaven’s ratio is 25% but as one of the ladies said yesterday it seems like more because our ladies have a tendency to be ‘vocal’.
Mark Woodgate’s family ride started in the forest with a brilliant turnout. Parents and children assembled in the car park before peddling to the Candy Canes and then along sections of the red route, before descending down the Snow Run and Final Descent.
Some of these youngsters are going to be seriously good riders in future. If you want to encourage children to ride we thoroughly recommend you bring them along to a Family Ride (hosted on the first Saturday of every month throughout the summer starting at 2 PM).
Both rides joined up in the second car park of the forest for a picnic. Ellie’s ladies had arrived first and having erected the Cycle Seahaven gazebo they got down to the serious business of Prosecco tasting. Both groups enjoyed a picnic and Ellie’s chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, which seems to have been used as a carrot to encourage participation in both rides. The kids, with renewed energy, ran around playing football or Kubb; a Danish game which involves knocking down wooden blocks with sticks. Some of the ‘bigger kids’ also tried racing the little kids’ bikes resulting in at least one crash.
So, all in all, a great day for the club. Thank you to all those that volunteered and assisted with Dr Bike. Special thanks to Ellie and Mark for hosting and coordinating their rides so that everyone could join up for a picnic. It was a great idea. Plans are afoot for similar events in future; details to follow on the CSH Website, Facebook pages and Club Twitter account.
This Tuesday, six members of the Touring Section took on Sussex’s most notorious climb.
After a gentle ride along the Ouse Valley Estuary Trail, we made the dash to Lewes up the C7, warming up our climbing muscles on the hill up to the Prison Crossroads. After regrouping the route took us out past Offham on the A275 and then left towards Plumpton on the B2116, and onto Underhill Lane.
After a short breather to discuss tactics at the end of Underhill Lane it was straight on to the “Hill”. All riders completed the ride non-stop to the top, pausing for the obligatory photo, before descending along Ditchling Road and the back road to Stanmer Village to the Stanmer Tea Rooms for well-earned refreshments.
The homeward journey was via the A27 cycle path, Kingston Village, C7, Egrets Way and Piddinghoe Village.
There are usually three touring section rides each week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The tourist pace of about 12 mph average speed allows us to take in the scenery and will always involve a refreshment stop or two.
Happy Cycling, Dave Sutton
Following our superb short touring ride on Tuesday five of us cycled to Littlehampton on Thursday, a round trip of 70 miles.
A ride along the coast to Littlehampton is completely different to our usual rides which are along picturesque country lanes. This trip mostly involves cycling along cycle paths and promenades but still very pleasant as we see a variety of seascapes.
We set off from the Martello Tower in Seaford on Thursday morning and were fortunate to be pushed along the promenade by a strong tailwind which made for easy cycling. However, the thought crossed our minds that this could become a challenging headwind for the return trip. We wondered whether we may have to cut the ride short at, say, Shoreham or Worthing.
We carried on at a fair pace. It wasn’t long before we reached Saltdean where we descended down the short steep hill onto the undercliff path. Then it was ‘plain sailing’ and apart from a small hill at Brighton Marina, it was virtually flat all the way to Littlehampton.
We seemed to reach Worthing quite quickly where we had a refreshment stop at the ‘Coast Café des Artistes’ on the seafront. The wind had died down somewhat so we decided to press on to Littlehampton for lunch.
Littlehampton was bathed in sunshine; it usually is when we cycle there! After fish & chips at the ‘Gallery Tea Rooms’ (very good value) on the promenade we started on our return trip. There was a slight headwind but nothing too challenging. However, cycling on flat terrain against a slight headwind means that there’s no opportunity to freewheel; you’re always pedalling! It was a bit tiring so, on reaching Rottingdean, we stopped at ‘Molly’s Café’ on the promenade for afternoon tea. After about 20 minutes and suitably refreshed, we set-off to cycle the final ten miles back to Seaford.
It had been a superb long touring ride. The three cafes we stopped at are on our Refreshment Stops list.