Tourist Section Take on the “Beacon”

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


Boldly to go where no grammatical cyclist has been before

Part of the key ethos of the (leader of the) Monday Rides is to use unexplored byways and bridleways.  On the Downs, this is ideal – there is a close network of tracks generally pretty solid most of the year.  But go further afield and this is not the case.  Off-road tracks are discontinuous, albeit joined by quiet country roads, and believe it or not, much used by Horses.  This results in winter use creating a pattern of deep hoof prints – up to 15 cms across and about as deep.  This makes for interesting, exciting and hard riding.  But many of the better tracks have a good surface and pass through gorgeous countryside.

Our ride last Monday illustrated this. We left from Hellingly carpark adjacent to the Cuckoo Trail, and headed east by road to Magham Down. Here we found the first byway, Squirrel Lane. Well surfaced and undulating through woodland – really beautiful.

Then we travelled by country road through Ginger’s Green, Stunts Green and Shreiks Lane to the next byway, Studdens Lane. This proved more problematic with ruts and a small area of mud but it then changed into a lovely section through woodland and a bridge across a stream until we arrived at Treliloes (sounds like Cornwall). There was now 4 kms of hilly country lane to get to Churches Green where the next bridleway started.
This was a different story and taxed our riders’ skills. It was quite overgrown, along the edge of a wood with a barbed wire fence one side, banks of nettles the other and severely poached along the whole length. Signposting was absent and a degree of dead reckoning was needed but there were several interesting steep descents and climbs across small valleys. We then picked up a wide byway but the surface was loose clods of earth and quite muddy in places, before emerging on to an inhabited track which returned us to a road and on to Three Cups Corner and lunch in the sunny garden of the Three Cups inn.

From there, a 3km gentle descent brought us to the fourth bridleway.  This started well through open woodland but then we lost it and ploughed merrily around in a boggy field (which cleaned the mud off our tyres) until we returned to high ground, removed the fallen tree that had put us off the right track and resumed our route west via another short bridleway to the Cuckoo Trail.  Then, joy, oh joy, a fast gentle 4 km descent to the carpark at Hellingly.

It was only 19 miles but involved some real challenges and a tremendous variety of scenery and terrain.  On checking Strava, I was surprised to see that some sectors had been previously ridden, but we saw no tyre tracks  . . .

Bike Building for Dummies #3

Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club -the community of speakers of that language. Frank Smith

Having managed to create a unicycle from my Singular 69er frame and a rear wheel, ‘What next?’  

I asked the combined wisdom of the Friston MTB group and the answers were many and varied.  The lovely Kate suggested a saddle which was a great answer because I know a) what a saddle is and b) which saddle I wanted.  Practically unheard of for this bike build, I promptly ordered my Selle Italia Gel Flow Diva .

My favourite answer however was this:

Were you going single speed? I have a Middleburn 33t chain ring (barely used), a Velosolo 21t sprocket (unused) and spacers that I’m selling.

The chainring is 105bcd so will need the correct sized cranks.

These two sentences were literally incomprehensible to me.  In my head, I understood that this was in actual fact the english language, however it might as well have been cantonese.  With google as my guide, I managed to do a bit of translation….

Chain Ring is the big pointy wheel thing with teeth that the chain goes on at the front.  The sprocket is the little one that goes at the back.  They look a bit like this:



The ‘t’ in‘33t’ and ‘21t’ actually relates to teeth which are the pointy bits on the outside of the ring, which makes sense if you think about it and the number is how many teeth there are on the outside.  Now this is actually really important for a single speed bike as the size of these rings determine your gear ratios.

The gear ratio is basically how hard you have to push to get your legs and therefore your bike up to Bo-peep / Eastbourne Lane for example and apparently it’s something that can take a bit of tweaking to get right for you.  Ellie’s singlespeed was a ‘32 / 18’, so 32 teeth on the big front ring and 18 on the back one.  It seemed to work for me. I made it up the majority of the hills and it was OK on the flat if slightly irritating that it felt like I was pedalling like Billyo and not getting very far. But I was being offered 33 / 21….what difference would that make?

Another bit of quick googling showed that it would make a massive difference.

Gear ratio online calculator….brilliant for bike geeks. Including me!

The gear ratio for 32 / 18 is 1.78.  33 / 21 is 1.57, so it would be quite a bit easier as the lower that number is, the easier it is to pedal.  The gear ratio for a granny gear could be around 40 / 30, so 1.33 to give a bit of perspective if that helps.

So the 33 / 19 chain ring / socket set wasn’t for me….

The chainring is 105bcd so will need the correct sized cranks.

Bcd? Better cycle daily?  Bikes crash dully? Turns out that it stands for Bolt Circle Diameter. In the picture above, it would be the distance between the holes across the middle of the chainring.   This is basically the size of the mountings which attach the chainring to the cranks (cranks being the bit that the pedals attach to), so I would need to get the cranks first (or make sure that the cranks I got were compatible with that chainring).

AArrggghhhhhhhh……With fingers in ears, eyes closed, I rocked silently back and forth for a few moments before my head exploded.   At this point I had a glass of wine and gave up on chainrings, cranks, bcds and all that gubbins for the sake of my sanity.  Obviously I will have to revisit at some stage but for the time being, it is parked…

Calm once more, I was still keen to get on with doing something, ANYTHING to keep the bike build moving forwards.  Thankfully, a friend had donated some pedals and brakes which he had spare and was looking to declutter.   One of the pedals was stuck, but just needed cleaned and lubed up again to get it moving.  How hard could that be?

Well, I have to say it would have been easier if we had the right tools.  A set of spanners and a vice would have been handy, but we made do with an adjustable spanner, two pairs of hands, an allen key and a cloth to stop the flipping thing moving around all over place.  Once again, google and my ‘quick guide to bike maintenance’ book came in handy.  We basically had to take the inner bit out of the pedal, take it all apart, clean it thoroughly, then put it all back together again with a shedload of grease.

Things I have learned about pedals

  • There are 24 teeny, tiny ball bearings inside these pedals
  • The old rule ‘righty, tighty, lefty loosen’ rule doesn’t apply to all pedals.  It worked for one of mine but not the other and this is apparently correct.
  • It’s really important not to lose any of the aforesaid teeny tiny’ ball bearings
  • The inner core bit has lots of little parts which need ‘fettling’ which is fiddling about with all the little bits as you put them back together until it works.

We thought we’d done a pretty good job of cleaning / regreasing, so were a bit disappointed when the dodgy pedal was still stuck.  Luckily a passing bike guru (thanks Gus) was able to advise on the fettling element and with a bit more fiddling around we got it unstuck and working.  It only took an hour and a half….but another bit of the bike was ready.  Success!

Next time:  Wheels revisited…



A Superb Long Touring Ride

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.

Happy cycling,


MTB Training Discount Offer

Jamie Lynch from South East Mountain Biking has kindly offered to provide MTB training at a special rate for Cycle Seahaven members only of a 10% discount.

These trail rider sessions will work on core bike skills and are ideal for those looking to enhance their existing skills. The sessions can be held on weekday evenings or on a Saturday afternoon.

Jamie can be contacted at

Tel: 0771325004  Website:

2B MTB Improvers via the Coach Road

Fifteen of us completed the ride last Sunday morning. Following a scenic spin up to Bopeep and a bracing brakes-off run down the road from Firle Borstal car park – a first time for some of us – to the track at the bottom, we then turned on to the Old Coach Road and followed our noses to Alfriston. The description of our route as ‘undulating’ was questioned by some, who preferred ‘very hilly!’

The weather wasn’t especially clement – chilly and breezy on the top but then warmer under the shelter of the trees – but at least we missed the rain. Once again it looked like there were plenty of PBs including the road ride to our left turn at the (former?) YHA hostel, before we dropped down to the footbridge and along the Litlington road back to our re-grouping point at the pub.

In Litlington we met, briefly, the 4D and Helen’s Birthday Ride groups, looking purposeful, on a day when there were a further 3 road rides. That’s a lot of rides!

Couldn’t help but notice the sheep field was despatched a bit more casually and with more bunching than usual. Getting faster.

So, if my Garmin would give up it’s secrets, which it won’t for some reason, I’d pass on the ride data – distance, feet climbed, average speed. I’m guessing we did about 16/17 miles, climbed over 1000 ft and averaged maybe 7 mph???


A Superb Short Touring Ride

We aim to have three touring rides each week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Tuesday rides are the shortest at approximately 25 miles; the ride today was no exception.

The weather conditions this morning were ideal for cycling: dry, sunny and virtually no wind. Eight of us gathered at the entrance to the car park in Friston Forest at 9.30 am and it wasn’t long before we were puffing and panting up Chapel Hill. As usual we took a breather at the top and admired the view before coasting downhill to Wilmington, passing the Long Man on the way.

Our destination was Ripe but rather than go directly there we took a more circuitous route via Chalvington and Golden Cross so we could spend more time enjoying the beautiful countryside as we cycled along some superb country lanes.

Ripe Village Stores

The café in Ripe Village Stores is one of our favourite refreshment stops and, as usual, we were warmly welcomed by the staff who are all volunteers. We lingered there for quite some time; elevenses almost became twelveses!

Then it was back on our bikes and, this time, we took a direct route back to the car park at Friston Forest. It had been a thoroughly pleasant morning of cycling, superb scenery and great company.

Our next ride will be to Littlehampton on Thursday, a round trip of about 70 miles. Thursday rides are our longest touring rides and are often over 50 miles.

Happy cycling,