Regular Forest Ride – 17th May 2013


Eleven of us started out from ‘The Gate‘ and headed along the flat past West Dean pond and along the fire-road of the family trail. After a sharp left turn up a dirt bank we headed up a track known locally as Jamie’s Back Passage. Some riders shot to the top quite quickly while others (me included) took much a gentler pace. We all took a long breather at the end of this relatively short section before heading right, down the fire road past a lonely cottage then back up to join the Family Trail.

There was a bit of discussion on the next course of action, after which we decided to head towards the bomb-crater known as ‘Medusa’, where a few brave souls had an impromptu session riding into the steep drop – over and over again.

Then, after another rest, we ventured out to explore some of our favourite trails at a fairly relaxed pace, despite some of the keener riders attempting to burst heart & lungs by racing ahead. Well, it’s a group ride so they’ll just have to wait for me.

We didn’t split into groups of level 3 and level 4, instead we stayed together and all rode at L3. The group spread out quite a bit during the ride, but we all re-grouped at the end of each section. It was great to all ride together, swapping stories and tall tales of cycling prowess and admiring each other’s bikes. We even had time to pose for a photo.

Conditions in the forest were great, as they have been for a while now. The ground is ideal for tyre grip, and the new leaves on the trees have turned the forest into a veritible jungle in places. I’m so looking forward to the next one this Friday 24th May, also meeting at ‘The Gate‘ at 7pm. See you there?

This ride was advertised on the calendar as a 3c and a 4c, but ended up being 3c for everyone.

50miles and 4 big hills

Sunday looked like rain but with Andy, Ian, Mark and myself on the road it dare not, or that’s what we thought.

Having suggested we do a 50mile ride, we all set off for the hills and reaching Beachy Head in good time against a strong head wind. After that we settled in to a train doing a respectable 19+mph into Pevensey and on to Hailsham with Andy taking the lead up Grove hill for a stop at Horam. This is where Mark Fisher told us the wonders of climbing the Alps and Ian Everett taking it all in ( I’m sure he will love to hear more ).

Unfortunately we missed Roger White but with a report of rain on the way, the direct route home was on the cards. With everybody chasing Ian we soon approached High and Over, wonder who was up first.

FAB ride guys and with 4 big hills with a average of 16mph over 45miles.

Mark Smoker

Published in the calendar as:
Road 4C (30,40 or 50 to Horam), Sunday 19th May 8am
A good pace ride to Horam for tea, the route will depend on who turns up and how many hills you would like to do.

Click HERE for other level 4 rides

Cycle Seahaven’s Action Divas

A little publicised all female cycling event Action DIVA in aid of Action Medical Research for Children took place at the weekend, promoted by Davina McCall.

About 400 women – including Davina McCall – took part in the ride, setting off from the National Golf Course in Uckfield in groups of 20, to pedal away through the Sussex countryside for Action Medical Research for Children

Jill Spencer, Club Secretary and Jo Homan, Club Member, had been training in cold and windy conditions for many weeks in preparation.

At the start line Davina McCall donned her shoes and led Jo and Jill, the last group of starters, from East Sussex National Golf Club at Uckfield. A privilege that many a gentleman would have envied!

“We started in neat single file until the first descent and then short climb when the pack split and it was every woman for herself. The weather was just bearable, a brisk easterly wind prevailed, rather than a mild May breeze that might have been expected. We stuck together finding our own comfortable pace and started to enjoy the scenery even chatting from time to time.

It was a great route a mix of winding lanes, hills and descents with the odd busy road and roundabout to contend with. After around 4hours approx, and despite the virtual gale force 10 breeze, we both arrived back having completed the 40mile circuit with no disasters or mishaps.”

It had been a challenging ride mainly because of the windy conditions and the fact that Jo had not ridden such a distance for about 12 years and for Jill it was a first.  Despite the virtual gale force 10 breeze, Jill and Jo managed to complete the 40 mile route in just over 4 hours.

The event was brilliantly organised – including a feed station half way round with goodies and high energy snacks for the riders as they started to lose energy! At the end of the route all riders were presented with goody bags and a medal!

Sponsorship money is still coming in but at the moment Jo and and Jill have raised somewhere around £400 between them for Action Medical Research.
It is not too late to sponsor them! Please visit their sponsorships pages to chip in for a worthy cause.

Jill Spencer shows off her medal and goody bag

Jill Spencer with her medal and goody bag


Jo Homan fresh after 40 miles

Jo Homan still happy  after 40 miles

Bishopstone Bridge cycle lane now safer

Although it has not yet been formally opened, the cycle lane under Bishopstone Bridge is now usable. This is a very much needed link between the Ouse Estuary Trail and the cycle lane on Seaford seafront. It is now possible for families and beginners to cycle safely from Edinburgh Road, Seaford, to Newhaven Town.

The road crossings at the Newhaven end of the Ouse Estuary Trail (by the roundabout) were made cycle friendly last year, making it easy to navigate to/from Sainsbury’s, The Drove and The Flying Fish. This opens up the possibility for more club rides at level 1 & 2 – get in touch if you want us to organise some rides using this route.  Click here for our Grading System

Completion of this section was one of the priorities identified by Cycle Seahaven, and we are extremely pleased to see it near completion. There are still planning difficulties regarding the proposed 1.8m wooden fence alongside the caravan park, which is why the official opening has been delayed and the blue barriers are still up. Cycle Seahaven will continue their partnership with local councils to improve cycle safety in the Seahaven area.

Widened shared-use path alongside the Sailing Club, looking towards Bishopstone Bridge

Widened shared-use path alongside the Sailing Club, looking towards Bishopstone Bridge


The new cycle path. The Sailing Club boundary is on the right, looking away from Bishopstone Bridge.

The new cycle path. The Sailing Club boundary is on the right, looking away from Bishopstone Bridge.

The cycle path under construction

The cycle path under construction


Local riders meet Friston Forest Rangers

A group of 19 local riders met up with the Forestry Commission to discuss the possibility of forming a mutually beneficial partnership. Cycle Seahaven and other local groups & businesses were represented.

One of the outcomes was the forming of an online forum where options and direction could be discussed with a far wider audience.

To express your views and concerns you can join the forum at this address:

If you don’t fancy joining the forum then please contact with your views or concerns.


Minutes of the meeting

Meeting with Local MTB and Foresty Rangers 8th May 2013 Friston Forest Visitor Centre

Present: Mark Arno,  Marina Brigginshaw, Ian Bromley – Forestry, Leila Dawney – Highrollers, Mark Dawney – Highrollers, Nick Cole, Liam Harris, Kevin Head, Colin Homan, Harvey Homan, Nick Kelleher – Whipser Bikes, Gus Lock – Cycle East Sussex, Jamie Lynch – South East Mountain Biking, Dean McCartney, Ming (the merciless) – Sussex Muddy@rse, Philip o’Dwyer, Peter Rawlinson – Forestry, Chris Sparks, Mark Woodgate – Cycle Seahaven

Apologies: Sophie Anns, Lisa Bowell – Sussex Muddy@rse, Steve Carey, Edward Davidson-Bowman, Terry Edelston, Simon Godding – Cuckmere Cycles, Jors Man – Whisper Bikes, Jay McNally – Bespoke (Eastbourne)

Invited: The Facebook group FristonMTB (258 members at the time of writing) was the primary source of contact. This has been recognised as a limited medium for gathering interested parties and a better, more inclusive solution will be sought.

The meeting opened with introduction from Ian Bromley (FCE), the local ranger for Friston Forest. Ian outlined the reason for the meeting: to see if local riders would want to work with Forestry Commission (FCE).

Ian then explained the reasons why FCE would like to work with local riders: – FCE have a duty of care for all forest users (dog walkers, horse riders, walkers, husky trainers, …) – Ignoring the situation isn’t an option for such a large organisations such as FCE. – Apart from ‘Ignore’ the other option is to remove the trails/works. – The final option, preferred by FCE, is to engage with trail riders and builders, hence the meeting.

Ian then went on to say why some sort of recognised group would assist FCE: – there would be a single point of contact representing MTBers – sharing of information would be simpler (harvesting operations, events from MTB or other groups, access problems, confrontations…)

Peter Rawlinson (FCE) expanded on Ian’s introduction, and gave a brief outline of the new management structure. Friston Forest is now managed from Norfolk, in a ‘patch’ extending out from there to Oxford Brighton. Ian has responsibility from Friston and up as far as Gatwick.

Ian and Peter then gave examples where FCE worked with volunteer trailbuilders and a dedicated trails ranger (Thetford) to give the locals the ability to develop and maintain their trails.

A discussion was then had regarding liability for any local MTB group, i.e. who takes ultimate responsibility? Peter pointed out that litigation would automatically be directed at the organisation with the most money – that being the government funded FCE, rather than a local group of riders. Peter expanded on FCE’s duty of care and gave real examples of litigation against FCE in other forests. He also pointed out FCE’s ‘second to none’ record of successfully defending against claims where life changing incidents had occurred on FCE land.

Peter was keen to point out that any partnership (if at all) could be as formal or informal as the group desired. Examples were given of various partnerships with different levels of expectation and responsibility and that FCE were not looking to impose anything.

A lot of talk covered the expectations of local riders, namely to keep things pretty much as they are: to ride natural and built trails – official & unofficial, current & new. Two examples were given (by local riders) of sections that FCE might want to address – FourDrops and the DH run. Plenty of suggestions were made on how to address these, but FCE were keen to state that this would be a working partnership and dialogue would nearly always find a solution. The priority for now was to establish a channel for such dialogue.

Interaction with other forest users (walkers, equestrians, dog walkers) was discussed and examples given of possible conflict of interest. Local riders explained the steps already taken to engage with TROT (who manage the fee paying access to the forests for horse riders), whose main issue was the lack of clear signage throughout Friston Forest. There was strong support from those present for improved signage, which would clearly mark MTB trails/areas and would make it clear to other users (including MTB of different skill levels) to: be aware; take care; keep off.

FCE were quizzed regarding development of trails, including North Shore, the availability of heavy machinery and access to a budget. The response was that the level of development was dependent on the level of reposibility and formalisation that could be established by a partnership.

FCE have a ‘constraints map’, showing rare flora/fauna, Ancient monuments and New plantings. Any further development would have to be with consideration to this map.

There was some talk about the forest itself and how there is little in terms of restrictions of use due to conservation/ archeology etc.

FCE were asked about holding events and that there was no problem with that, the application of which would simply have to be assessed and approved by the FC. The process usually takes 8 weeks.

There was a brief discussion towards the end of the meeting about the “FourDrops” onto West Dean road. This has been identified by the FC as a dangerous area that needs addressing. Various options were explored and the discussion ended with a suggestion at this stage of an FCE notice simply warning riders of the danger.

There was general agreement that a representative group would be beneficial for all. It was pointed out that there are many who do not (and will not) have a Facebook account, which is a barrier to using the current Friston MTB account. An online forum was suggested, and strongly supported.


The next steps were discussed, and agreed:

– The attendees would exchange contact details and work out a way forward to creating a more formal group.
– FCE would assist in communication between local riders and FCE, other user groups and existing MTB groups working with FCE.
– There was general agreement that a representative group would be beneficial for all. It was pointed out that there are many who do not (and will not) have a Facebook account. An online forum was suggested, and strongly supported.
– Date of next meeting was not decided.


Sunday Blast Ride Report

The weather was perfect on Sunday morning. The 4 riders were Mat, Simon, Mark & Dave, all experienced road riders. Our pace was pretty fast so after a little pep talk we got ourselves organised into a train and took our turns leading. We stopped for coffee in Bexhill then headed back towards Eastbourne. We had a slight head wind but it didn’t slow us down, in fact our train was working so well we were speeding along at 24mph until we dropped Mark off he back! We slowed it down through Eastbourne then tackled Beachy Head. Mark ‘the mountain goat’ then overtook us and steamed off up the hill. After a fast descent and the East Dean and Exceat climbs, we finished within 4 hours. Probably one of the fastest club rides we have done, ever!

Stats; Distance 52.6 miles, Avg. speed 16.9 mph, riding time 3:05 hrs, time elapsed 3:57 hrs.


This ride was published as a level 4, but turned out to be a level 5!

Our ride levels are for guidance, and the level/grade can go up or down to suit whoever turns up on the day. This time it was definitely up!