Ladies Ride: Saturday 20th July

The Cuckoo Trail – 8am to 4.30pm

This months ladies ride is a little later in the month. As Cycling UK celebrates the women’s festival of cycling this month, it’s something a little different – we’re riding the Cuckoo Trail!

The Cuckoo Trail is a 14-mile footpath and cycleway which runs from Hampden Park in the south, to Heathfield in East Sussex. It passes through the towns of Polegate and Hailsham, as well as the villages of Hellingly and Horam.

Cycling UK Says:

The Women’s Festival of Cycling returns in 2019 and events take place throughout the UK in July. We’ll be raising the profile of women’s cycling, putting on events to encourage more women to cycle, and featuring the women in cycling who inspire others. Join us and celebrate the fun, friendship and freedom that cycling provides.

To celebrate the Women’s Festival of Cycling this year Cycle Seahaven is hosting a ride from Heathfield, Sussex, along the Cuckoo Trail back towards Seaford. Bikes will be transported from Seaford to Heathfield using the club’s trailer, which will limit the number of riders to no more than 20. Early booking is therefore recommended. The ride is predominantly off road but on terrain that would be suited to hybrid bikes with the appropriate tyres. The ride is approximately 30 miles long across relatively flat ground. The group will stop at the Arlington Tearooms for refreshments along the way. If you require further details please contact the ride leader, Sarah Winser…

The bikes will be transported to the starting point at Heathfield via the club trailer, therefore there are limited spaces for this event if you require transportation. Book your place now by contacting Sarah Winser via the ride leaders page.

There will be two stops on this ride – one at Hellingly (bring your own snack and drink), and then lunch at Arlington Tea Gardens (cards accepted).

The ride will be at the pace of the slowest rider and is suitable for MTB, Hybrids & E-bikes, riding over a mix of tarmac, gavel and grass.

As always, a helmet must be worn and a spare inner tube, pump, bike lock and lights should be brought.

 

 

 

The History of the Cuckoo Trail:

The Trail largely follows the route of a disused railway line, the Cuckoo Line, which opened in 1880 and ran between Eridge and railway stations, creating a direct route between Eastbourne and London. It obtained its name from the tradition that the first cuckoo in Spring was heard at the Heathfield Fair. The line closed in 1968 under the programme of closures put forward by Forest Row resident and British Transport Commission Chairman Richard Beeching.

In 1981 the route of the old railway line to the south of Heathfield was purchased by Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council. From 1990 Sustrans developed the route along with District Council and the County Council into a shared track for walkers and cyclists, with horses also allowed on some sections. An extension was constructed to the south into Eastbourne and the trail became part of National Cycle Network Route 21. The Trail is currently used by around 200,000 people per year and serves as a traffic-free route between several local schools. It is jointly managed by the latter in conjunction with East Sussex County Council.

Along the route of the Trail are six original sculptures which act as mileposts. In May 1993 a dozen wooden benches were installed which had been hand-carved by a local artist out of trees felled during the Great Storm of 1987. In 2003 a five-year £65,000 package of grants for improvements to the Cuckoo Trail was awarded as part of the Woodland Grant Scheme. Part of these funds went towards the resurfacing of the Trail as far as Heathfield in October 2006.

 

‘Cyclists Dismount’ Signs

by Dave Sutton

Cyclists Dismount: Newhaven Railway Crossing

Occasionally when cycling you may come across signs like this. Do you know the differing legal status between them? Conflict with other users of the path can arise, due to lack of understanding of the legal status of such signs.

Although The Highway Code shows many of the signs commonly in use, a comprehensive explanation of our roads signing system is given in the Department of Transport’s booklet “Know Your Traffic Signs”, which is available to view online and on sale at booksellers. The booklet also illustrates and explains the vast majority of signs the road user is likely to encounter.

Page 9 of the Know Your Signs booklet states;

“Blue circles generally give a mandatory instruction, such as “turn left”, or indicate a route available only to particular classes of traffic, e.g. buses and cycles only.”

“Red rings or circles tell you what you must not do, e.g. you must not exceed 30 mph, no vehicles over the height shown may proceed.”

 “Blue rectangles are used for information signs except on motorways where blue is used for direction signs”  

The “Know your Traffic Signs” booklet, will include the words  “Must or Must Not” if there is a legal requirement to observe a traffic sign.

On page 36 of the Know Your Signs booklet is the Cyclists Dismount sign with the wording Pedal cyclists to dismount at end of, or break in, a cycle lane, track or route”

So by not including the words “Must or Must Not” on the cyclists dismount blue rectangular sign, the implication is that the sign is for information only, unlike the red Circle “Cycling Prohibited” which is mandatory.

The likely legal interpretation  of the Blue Cyclists Dismount signs are clarified on Cycling UK’s website which states; 

No Cycling sign: Martello Tower, Seaford Seafront

The legal status of a ‘cyclists dismount’ sign depends on the type of sign. Where there is a ‘cyclists dismount’ sign with a bicycle in a red circle, the instructions are mandatory under s.36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If not, the signs are advisory and there is no legal obligation to follow them. They may, however, signal a significant increase in the risk of danger, so this does not mean they can be safely ignored. A failure to dismount could be taken into account if there were a collision. When considering the rights of the police to fine road users, it is also worth remembering that the police can fine a road user for anti-social behaviour. In some situations, this could justify fining a cyclist for riding through a ‘cyclists dismount’ sign”.

Cyclists Dismount: Newhaven Swing Bridge

So why are the signs there on both the bridge and the railway crossing you may well ask? Well, that’s because like all things that are controlled by Government, there is of course a standard to which road signs are placed.

 

The law for traffic sign placement is contained in the Statutory Instrument (SI) “2016 No. 362 ROAD TRAFFIC The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016”

This legislation details the legal status of such signage, page 205 of the SI shows the cyclists dismount sign and the cyclists rejoin carriageway sign in two variants along with the wording “Diagram 966 Pedal cyclists to rejoin main carriageway or dismount at the end of, or at a break in, a cycle track or route”

The Traffic Signs Manual is a UK government publication on traffic signs giving guidance on the above SI to Highway Authorities. Chapter 3 page 155 para 17.37 it states.

“The sign to diagram 966 (CYCLISTS DISMOUNT) may be used together with the sign to diagram 965, or on its own. The sign should be provided only where cyclists are required to use a pedestrian crossing facility that they cannot legally cycle on, at the entrance to a pedestrian area, at a location with a low headroom or width restriction (e.g. a subway or bridge) or at places where visibility is restricted to such an extent that cycling would be unsafe (see also para 5.8)”.

On that basis the Cyclists Dismount signs at the Newhaven Swing Bridge, would appear to be denoting the end of the shared use path where it becomes the bridge.

If the path at the side of the bridge is a footway, and not a cycle route, then of course cycling on it is illegal in contravention of the Section 72 of Highway Act 1835.

The legal status of riding on the pavement across the river bridge is unknown, as the footbridge is not defined as a public right of way on ESCC Rights of Way map. So in conclusion, the signs on Newhaven Swing Bridge are not a mandatory dismount for cyclists, however cycling across the bridge may be depending on the status of the pavement. As such this is very confusing.

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  . . .

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???

Roger.

New cycle facilities at Seaford Rail Station

Seaford train station has been given new multi-tier cycle parking, a maintenance stand equipped with tools and a floor-standing pump.

Parking for 20 bikes has been provided using Cyclepod’s Easylift+ system. Instructions how to access the top layer are posted on a blue sign just above eye level, attached to a nearby roof support (shown below).

There’s a handy floor pump, which should make tyre inflation a doddle. Remember to check the walls of your tyres to find the recommended pressure.

A selection of tools has also been provided, including hex keys, spanners and screwdrivers. These are all secured by a strong steel wire to prevent theft.

 

Cycle racks, pump and tools at the terminus end of the platform

Cycle racks, pump and tools at the terminus end of the platform

Selection of tools

Selection of tools

Cyclepod instructions

Cyclepod instructions

ICE

Ice is clearly a hazard for cyclists. It can catch out even the most experienced of us and in late Winter the roads can be unexpectedly slippery. Also, the temperature a few miles inland can be 2 or 3 degrees lower than along the coast. As a ride leader the possibility of ice is one of those things I have to consider when deciding if a planned ride should go ahead or be cancelled.

The latest weekly email newsletter “CycleClips” from the CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club) has a couple of good links on the subject of Ice. (You may already have seen these links if you’re a CTC member). They are:

http://www.ctc.org.uk/blog/metoffice/ice-time-ride-reading-signs

http://www.ctc.org.uk/news/20160115-ctc-aa-say-stay-safe-icy-roads

It’s certainly worth clicking on them and having a read.

Safe cycling,

Clive

Newhaven NCN2 changes

It was brought the attention of Cycle Seahaven that National Cycle Route 2 (NCN2) through Newhaven has seen some rather odd signage changes recently. Instead of following the shared path from the Ouse Estuary Trail (OET) and along to B&Q, riders are now directed to the Sainsbury’s side of the road. This rather unneccessary detour requires 8 additional road crossings (four roads with crossing islands). Also, when going to Seaford from Newhaven riders are directed onto the A259 rather than onto the specially built cycle-friendly crossing to join up with the OET. We have raised this issue with our local Sustrans representative who has forwarded it onto East Sussex County Council.

For safety reasons we suggest you consider continuing to use the old route to avoid crossing in front of the very busy entrance to the supermarket/petrol sation/pub-hotel. The old route is still fully signposted as a shared, cycle-friendly route.

Cyclists Dismount signs are advisory. If it is safe to do so then you can continue without dismounting. These blue signs are different to the circular white signs with a red border – No Cycling – which are obligatory and enforcable by law.

New NCN2 Newhaven Which side would you rather negotiate?