Horses and Cyclists

Horses are a common sight on many of the country roads where we cycle, especially in the Arlington, Ripe, Chalvington and Chiddingly areas. They are usually very well ridden, the riders are friendly and there’s rarely a problem. However, I’m aware that some cyclists are unsure what to do when they encounter horses so, as an experienced ride leader for road cyclists, I thought it might be helpful to suggest a few tips. So here goes: 

  • Never ring your bell when near a horse. If you do then it could startle the horse and you’re likely to be rebuked by the horse rider. 
  • Always talk to the horse rider in a calm voice, never shout. 
  • Always pass a horse at a moderate, steady pace, ie not too fast. You’ll probably need to slow down but there’s no need to stop unless the horse looks agitated in which case the rider may tell you what to do. 
  • Always give horses a wide berth when passing and only pass when it’s clearly safe to do so. 
  • When approaching a horse from the rear ask the horse rider if it’s OK to pass. Don’t pass until they say so; sometimes they will tell you to wait. 
  • When you pass a horse from the rear tell the rider how many cyclists are following you if you’re the first rider to overtake. 
  • When approaching a horse from the front switch off a flashing front light if you’re using one. 
  • Talk to the rider as you pass to demonstrate to the horse that you’re friendly. The weather is usually a good subject; riders usually appreciate this. 
  • Never cross a level crossing if a horse is already on the crossing or about to cross it. (Horses can get a shock if they touch a rail which could be nasty if a horse bolted. (That’s why some level crossings have posts for the horse rider to touch to discharge any static). 
  • Above all, never do anything to startle or frighten a horse. 

Please regard these tips as just suggestions rather than golden rules. They work for me and are based on my many years (decades, in fact) of cycling along country roads and passing horses as well as advice from horse riders. 

Just occasionally, I come across a horse that looks unsettled in which case I always keep a good distance from it and wait. Usually, the horse rider will signal to pass when they have the horse under control or will pull the horse off the road and into a field. 

I hope this is helpful advice. However, I’m always willing to learn so I’d very much welcome comments from any horse riders reading this. 

Happy cycling, 

Clive 

Summertime Cycling has arrived

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.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Ripe’s Winged Wheel

The CTC Winged Wheel at Ripe

The Sunday touring ride to Arlington today went past the derelict pub, ‘The Lamb’ in Ripe. It looks an eyesore so wouldn’t normally be worthy of a photo except there is something intriguing about it to cyclists. Take a look at the photo and you’ll see, located high up on the outside wall of the pub, a CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) Winged Wheel plaque. These cast-iron plaques, two feet in diameter, were issued by the CTC about 120 years ago to approved inns and hotels. Clearly, The Lamb was such an establishment; shame it’s closed down. However, there is an excellent café just across the road.

The $64,000 question is what will happen to this plaque when the builders get to work on the old pub; it seems unlikely to continue as a pub. Hopefully it can be saved and put to good use.

There’s a website if you’d like to know more about these plaques at www.wingedwheels.info.

As for the one at Ripe, watch this space!

Happy cycling,

Clive

Refreshment Stops Revisited

Looking for a good place to stop on your cycle ride for some rest and refreshment? If so, take a look at the list of refreshment stops that the tourers use on their rides.

It’s recently been revised to include only those which we consider local in touring terms so they’re all in Sussex plus a few on the western side of Kent. Those further away such as in the Seine-Maritime department of France have been deleted but will appear in a future list which may prove useful to cyclists staying in Dieppe.

This revised list comprises thirty refreshment stops of which the ten we most frequently visit are as follows:

The Refreshment List is a Google Map showing the location of each of the thirty places.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Easy Touring Rides

 

Would you like to cycle along the country lanes of East Sussex at a comfortable touring pace but without having to climb any major hills; in other words do you prefer cycling on flattish terrain. If so, you’re in luck!

Cyclists touring along the Cuckoo Trail

For a trial period of about a couple of months, many of our Tuesday touring rides will incorporate shorter, flatter routes. The first one will be next Tuesday, 13 March, starting and finishing at the lay-by on Station Rd opposite Arlington Reservoir. The route distance is 11 miles and will include a café stop at Muddles Green, about the halfway point.

Our thinking is that this ‘Easy Touring’ type of ride will appeal to those cyclists who have retired (baby boomers?) and also younger members, if they can arrange some mid–week time off, who want to keep fit and healthy by doing a few miles of cycling each week on routes that won’t prove arduous to cycle along. (We are considering something similar for weekends).

Full details are on the Rides Calendar which includes links to the plotted route on a map and to the cafe’s website. If you’d like more information then please don’t hesitate to contact one of us through our Ride Leader Contact page.

Happy cycling,

Clive Aberdour and Dave Sutton

(Touring Ride Leaders)

Springtime on the Cuckoo Trail

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.

Happy cycling,
Clive

An Enjoyable Springtime Touring Ride

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!

Touring Ride Descriptions: Improvements

Some improvements have been made to the ride descriptions of Touring rides on the Rides Calendar which, hopefully, members will find useful when considering going on any of our rides.

The ride description will now include six side-headings:

  • DISTANCE
  • REFRESHMENT STOPS
  • TERRAIN
  • ROUTE
  • CHANGES
  • RIDE LEADER

‘Route’ has always included a hyperlink to the plotted route on RWGPS (Ride With GPS). This hyperlink will now be a short filename in upper case which will be the main destination of the ride, eg BLACKBOYS E1.

Therefore, if you download the route onto your GPS cycle computer, you should easily find the route in your saved ‘Courses’; Garmin devices do not like long filenames. Don’t worry about the last two characters of the filename such as E1 as they’re just a route identity suffix.

When you look at the plotted route on RWGPS you’ll see more information about the ride, both on the map and in the column on the right-hand side. Google Streetview is available on RWGPS maps so you can do a virtual tour of the route or take a look at any parts of the route that may be unknown to you.

Our touring rides aren’t just about the cycling; the refreshment stops are a key part of our rides. Therefore, if a refreshment stop has a website, there will now be a hyperlink to it.

Also, more details will be added to our list of Refreshment Stops including Trip Advisor ratings. There will be more information in a post later this month.

TIP     To view a RWGPS map on a tablet it’s probably best to view it in landscape otherwise you may only get a description and cue sheet if viewed in portrait.

Happy cycling,

Clive

A record Year for the Tourers

Tourers brave a wet and windy New Year’s Eve for their final ride of 2017: Lakeside Café at Horam

It’s been another record year for the tourers: 120 touring rides in 2017, an increase of 15% on the 2016 total of 103 rides. There would have been more but some were cancelled due to bad weather.

Also, anyone who’d been on all these rides in 2017 would have cycled just over 4100 miles, an increase of 17% on the 2016 total of about 3500 miles. That gives a mean figure of about 34 miles cycled per ride this year.

Most of our rides have been between 25 and 50 miles with Ripe, Muddles Green and Bexhill being popular destinations. However, there have been a few longer distance rides such as Littlehampton (70 miles) and even the Downs Link (100 miles) although, as sections weren’t really suitable for a road bike, it won’t be repeated.

Although it’s very pleasant cycling along the local country lanes and the promenades and cycle paths of the coastal strip we occasionally do some ‘Away-Day’ rides for a change of scenery. The Viking Trail in Kent and cycling over the Romney Marsh are two examples of such rides. We aim to do more of these in 2018.

Apart from the Cycle Seahaven rides many of the tourers have been doing other rides as well. Heather Cheek cycled across Iowa in RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). Others took part in two Phoenix-CTC rides, a cycling trip to the Loire Valley and a channel hopper to Dieppe. In addition, some did a cycle tour of Upper Normandy as well as cycling through France from the Med to the English Channel. In fact, Joe Hamilton has cycled more than 7,000 miles this year; that’s more than some of us have driven in our cars!

All our rides include refreshment stops and during the year our list has grown to 41, mostly cafés. The following link Refreshment Stops shows the locations and brief details of them; all are welcoming to cyclists.

It’s certainly been an active year for the tourers but we are few in number; we’d like to see more. At present our rides are graded at level 3 so are aimed at those who can maintain an average speed of about 12½ mph; a comfortable pace where one can chat without being out of breath. However, to widen the appeal of touring rides we are considering introducing some at level 2 in the Spring where the average speed will be about 10 mph.

Watch this space!

May we wish you a Happy and Safe Cycling New Year,

Clive Aberdour        Dave Sutton