It is a Marmite Thing – SS UK 2018.

Riding without gears isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some do it for fitness, others for ease of maintenance and a few are just plain bonkers.

We are lucky to have a high number of Single Speed (SS) riders in Cycle Seahaven but let’s face it, we aren’t an average club. Even more impressive is the fact that all the club’s SS female riders are formidable in their own right and they never cease to impress.

Nationally, it was inevitable with the increasing popularity of SS that someone would hit upon the idea of a dedicated SS (MTB) event. In 2014 the concept became a reality and SS UK was born.

This year the event was hosted on the Isle of Wight. 120 people registered from all around the UK with a couple of foreign visitors thrown in. The Cycle Seahaven contingent consisted of Lexi, Ellie, Gus, Chris ‘Girder’ and I. All of us were SS UK ‘virgins’ and we weren’t really sure what to expect.

The ‘SS UK 2018’ signs that had been dotted around the Island signposted the event’s location and it left me wondering how many of the locals thought there was some kind of neo-Nazi gathering occurring on their doorstep. Fortunately, there were no protesters and by Friday afternoon the participants started to gather in anticipation of the first event which surprisingly involved a pub.

The ride started at 7:30 PM and was billed as a ‘moderate level’ 14-mile cross-country ride. The 3 ride leaders had been told to expect 10 to 15 riders but were faced with just over 60 instead. I’d love to see the faces of the CSH ride leaders if that ever happens on a CSH pub ride!

The SS ride started on a series of bridleways and quiet roads of the kind you might experience on a Cycle Seahaven pub ride, but that is where any similarity ended.

It soon became clear that this pub was situated somewhere in the outer hemisphere. Two seriously big climbs that would have made Itford and Windover feel inadequate stood between us and beer. In the SS world, there’s no shame in pushing up hills, unless other single speed riders ride it, in which case you can expect to be ridiculed. On this ride, no one was going to be ridiculed as these hills would have been challenging on a pimped up E-bike on steroids.

Having made it up the last hill the riders were rewarded with spectacular nocturnal views of the island,  shipping lanes and the lights of Portsmouth reflecting in the Solent. The temptation to stand and stare was tapered by the realisation that 60 riders make for a very long queue at the bar. Well played Mr ‘Girder’, beer AND chips for his teamies!

Fast forward an hour and the ride leaders had managed to reassemble everyone on the top of the cliffs ready for the ride down to the nearest town (Sandown). The ensuing descent could have caused a Health and Safety Officer to melt down. After all, what could go wrong with 60 beer-fuelled riders descending cliff paths in the darkness? What you can’t see, can’t hurt you; right? I am not sure why, but I thought of Lemmings midway down.

Surprisingly, we all survived (maybe I was just being a wimp in the darkness) and we rode along the long sandy beach to join the promenade (and a few bemused Policemen), before a more conventional return to base. Ever concerned about the risks of dehydration our thoughtful organisers ensured there were multiple kegs of local beer at £2.50 a pint. Great value, even with the IOW exchange rate. Over a beer, I asked my CSH companions what grading they would have given the ride. ‘Z 10’ was the reply; enough said!

The following morning an even larger group set out on a 16-mile route that took us along one of the many disused railway tracks built by the Victorians, who were forward thinking enough to consider their potential use for future single speed events. Many of the riders had chosen to wear fancy dress just to make the ride a little more challenging (and for those wearing thongs, just a tad disturbing). Several miles later and just over a 100 SS riders moved over to the edge of the track to let a couple of horse riders go by. They were clearly impressed but after their 65th ‘Thank you’ their voices were getting a little hoarse (geddit?….Sorry).

Next came the anticipated, inevitable, hill climb for beer; the SS rider’s equivalent of a Donkey’s carrot. Whilst not as severe as the night before this was another one of those ‘get off and walk’ type hills that the organisers seemed to enjoy….sadists! However, good to their word, several kegs of beer had been positioned at the summit and pints of beer and children’s windmills, were given to each rider. These, we were told, would differentiate the ‘hard-core’ riders from those that had elected to do the shorter ride, ‘Shirkers’ ride; who we were destined to meet further along the route.

The descent this time was more reminiscent of those we regularly experience on the South Downs Way and, with the addition of daylight, there were less ‘pucker’ moments than the night before.

Having joined up with the ‘shirkers’ group we all rode as one, along Sandown’s promenade towards the beach. This was to serve as the arena and racetrack for the main event. We were greeted by a local musician singing well know reggae songs in the afternoon sun, a nice touch, as we prepared for the race that would decide the SS UK 2018 champions.

This year’s course involved tearing down the beach for a quarter of a mile, rounding an oil drum and tearing back up the beach, through a chicane, towards the start line. Sounds simple right, but we were soon to discover this was the bike version of wading through treacle.

You will have surmised by now that anything related to SS UK wasn’t to be taken too seriously. The Championship was no exception.  Our bikes were left on the beach and we were walked to the far side of a playing field immediately above, but just out of view, of the beach. This was going to be a Le Mans style start and when the horn sounded we ran, walked and stumbled for our steeds before commencing the downwind, seaward side of the course. Skidding, crashing and in some cases remaining upright, the riders rounded the oil drum at the far end of the beach before the slog into the wind along with some soft, deep sand. This was energy sapping stuff and the brief was to keep going until you quit or were told to stop. Several laps later and the organisers called a halt. Those that hadn’t reached the finish line were disqualified, those that had progressed to the next round. After a brief pit stop of beer and jellybeans, the remaining survivors went again. This process repeated itself until only 10 were left. We had our finalists.

The male finalists were marched back to the field for yet another Le Mans style start; this time with a twist.

Whilst out of view their bikes were placed on a raft which was positioned about 20 feet offshore. Their faces as they ran into the waist-deep water to collect their bikes was highly amusing, at least for the spectators, after which the competitors commenced another two energy-sapping laps. Finally, we had a winner!

Next up was the ladies race. The six finalists (CSH SS ladies we need more of you there next year) had a more conventional start to the race. Amongst this group of athletes was our very own Ellie. Now, call me biased, but after Ellie’s serious ‘break everything I can’ crash two months ago I was amazed and impressed that she had done all of the aforementioned rides. So to see her on the start line champing at the bit filled me with a sense of pride; there’s no doubt she applies rule 5! Ellie took off like a whippet and her racing line, unlike the others, involved ploughing through a small section of the English Channel. The resulting plume of spray was visible from the far end of the beach. By the end of the race she had finished fourth; exhausted, sandy and wet. I had noted that the ‘winner’ wasn’t wearing a windmill and she was, therefore, a lot fresher than the other competitors but, as you’ve probably gathered by now, we weren’t taking this too seriously. However, for the record, I think this year’s female SS UK winner was a Scandinavian lass dressed as Goldilocks.

That evening the event concluded with Fish and Chips, a live rock band, more ridiculously cheap beer, a raffle and prize-giving. To my delight Ellie had been voted by the event organisers as the most deserving female rider of the weekend, a decision cemented by her epic water splash. As a prize she was presented with a brand-new Surly Cyclo Cross frame and for once, she was speechless. How many of you can say you’ve ever witnessed that? Well done Ellie, as rehabilitation rides go you smashed this weekend.

This was a brilliant, relaxed and fun weekend with so many Single Speed bikes to admire I nearly dehydrated through drooling. If you’ve ever fancied having a go on a single speed please get in touch, I’d be happy to arrange something for you. You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a Marmite thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strava – Are you protected?

Strava is a great tool, most of the riders I know in the club use it. However, it can be used for more sinister reasons. If you don’t apply some simple precautions anyone can view your profile. It will show them where you live, any pattern of activity and if you’ve described your bike, what type of bikes you own.

I’m told  a gang of professional bike thieves were arrested in the North of England after they researched ‘unprotected’ Strava accounts to target houses were high value bikes were kept. It crossed my mind that many people probably don’t know about the importance of  Strava privacy settings. So here, courtesy of Strava Support, is the information you may want to consider to make things just a little more secure:

Creating a Privacy Zone

On the website, go to your Settings page by hovering over your profile picture in the top right and selecting “Settings”.

Click on the Privacy tab on the left side of the page.

Enter a location in the text field provided under “Hide your house/office on your activity maps”, select the size of the privacy radius, and click “Create Privacy Zone.”

https://support.strava.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000173384-Privacy-Zones

How it Works

The portion of your activity that starts or stops within your privacy zone will be hidden from other Strava athletes who view your activity. You will be able to see data inside your privacy zone, but other athletes will not.

  • If you stop in a privacy zone during the middle of an activity, this portion will not be hidden.
  • Your privacy zone will be automatically applied to all past and future activities.
  • GPS location-based lat/long coordinates can be used in place of a street address for cases where there is no street address.
  • Only one privacy zone can be applied to the start or end point for each activity. So if you have multiple, overlapping privacy zones, only one will be applied to each start or end point.
  • If a friend starts their activity from within your privacy zone, the portion that began in your zone will not be hidden on their activity.
  • You will not appear on any segment leaderboard that starts/stops within your Privacy Zone and you cannot hold or earn any KOMs/CRs on those segments. Removing a Privacy Zone will reinstate your segment matches and any associated KOMs/CRs.
  • Your Privacy Zone will be respected when you share on Facebook.

Manage Followers & Block Athletes

From your profile page, you can easily manage your current followers from the “Following” tab. When you block an athlete, it stops him/her from following you again, seeing certain Profile details, or accessing your activities. You will be removed from his/her list of followers and Activity Feed. Someone you’ve blocked will be able to see your activity entries in public areas like segment leaderboards, club feeds, and segment explore.

https://support.strava.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000173484

SOUTH DOWNS NATIONAL PARK AMBASSADORS

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’.

 

Local rides from schools to the beach

Sustrans are working with Sussex Wildlife Trust in Seaford, offering led rides from local schools to the beach. This is part of their wider Active Access for Growth project and Sussex Wildlife Trusts Wild Beach project, which encourages children to hop on their bikes and explore their local environment.

As a result, Sustrans are looking for willing volunteers to assist rides on the following dates. Times will be announced asap but the rides will probably be  during the school day:

  •  Annecy Primary School, Monday 30th April
  • Cradle Hill Community Primary, Tuesday 12th June and Tuesday 3rd July

Any club rider can be an assistant or backmarker providing they have experience of taking part in previous Sustrans rides or have experience of riding in a group and being part of an organised led ride, with an understanding of the principles of group management (so that’s most of you).

There will be more in rides planned for the future and Sustrans are hoping to extend this to other schools in the area very soon. Please let us know if you would like to assist and what dates you can help by contacting us here.

 

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

Another Super Christmas Meal for the Tourers

Another highly convivial time was had by twenty-one of us at the Cycle Seahaven ‘Tourers’ Christmas meal in the British Legion yesterday evening. It was our third year in succession at the Legion so it’s becoming something of a tradition.

That’s hardly surprising as the meal is excellent value for money and it’s a very relaxed atmosphere in the Legion. No doubt we’ll be making a return visit next Christmas!

The touring rides will continue throughout this festive season, weather permitting, although not on Christmas Day or Boxing Day! The next planned ride will be on Christmas Eve to Molly’s Café at Rottingdean, then the café at Ripe on Thursday 28th December and to Wesson’s Café at Horam on New Year’s Eve. There may be some other touring rides if the weather remains mild so please keep an eye on the Rides Calendar. Those in the CSH Tourers WhatsApp Group will be kept informed of all the news on the rides as usual.

Merry Christmas everyone,

Clive

Good news looming on the Newhaven pump track project

From Jon Younghusband

In my last update I discussed the possibility of getting a pump track build at the Salts Field in Seaford. This could still be a possibility but, due to Craig leaving his position and funding being secured for the skate park and not a pump track, it looks like this will need to be on the backburner for the time being.

However, I have just come from a second meeting with Chris (Project Manager for Lewes District Council) where Tom (Pump Track Consultant for Velosolutions UK) attended to see if the proposed site below Newhaven Fort would be suitable.

Firstly, an update on funding, Chris has applied for some funding from the District Council that is tied into the regeneration of Newhaven Town Centre. He hopes the funding (£100,000) could be available next year

£30k of funding from Newhaven Town Council has been promised for the skatepark and pumptrack project subject to additional funds been secured. A Stage One Veolia application has gone in and been accepted so we need to spend December evidencing the need for the facility in order to get the Stage 2 application in by January 4th: we will know in March 2018 if this has been successful. This means that hopefully we will have £80k early next year to use for the skate park/ pump track. We are also going to look at other funding options to push up what we can spend on this. One of these could be Cycling UK but if you have other ideas please let me know.

With the funding situation in mind, Chris came up with a great idea of putting forward £80k straight into the pump track and looking at the skate park for later in 2018. We can use the success of the pump track to try to get additional funding from the Newhaven regeneration funds for the skate park. The design of the pump track will include provision to integrate into the skate park at a later date.

PROPOSED SITE AT NEWHAVEN

The site has good access for works and it looks like soak-away drainage shouldn’t be an issue, but Chris is going to organise topographical and geotechnical and environmental survey for the site so that we know exactly what we are dealing with. For those of you who don’t know the current site, there are a few dirt jumps that snake down over two distinct terraces. Typically a pump track needs to be on a level piece of ground. At first we worried that this would be a major road block for the project but Tom had a great idea of incorporating a smaller ‘beginner’ track on the top level and a full sized track on the lower level. Each terrace would link with the skate park and possibly the two tracks would link together too. This would give the tracks a really unique design.

From the image you can see the upper level to the top left and the lower level will span from the trees in the centre along the bank and all the way to the fence on the left and bottom of the image. We’re probably looking at around a 40-meter beginner track and 125-meter main track.

Tom is going to work out some basic designs for the Stage 2 Veolia bid, at some point in the new year.  We can start deciding then on what features and design parameters we would like on the pump track.

All in all we would be looking at a June/ July build date.  The opening could be a lot of fun.  Velosolutions will invite some pro cyclists and record a promo video of the track for the opening. I would also hope that we can get the Cycle Seahaven gazebo up there and include a Dr. Bike session to get the kids on their bikes enjoying the track straight away.  But this is a way off yet.

Winter Touring Rides

The weather is getting colder and Jack Frost has started to visit us. As in previous years, our touring rides will continue throughout Winter on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week. However, please check the Rides Calendar on the morning of a ride in case there’s been a change.

Changes to rides are more likely during Winter because of inclement weather. Certainly, if there is a risk of ice then a ride will be cancelled or sometimes the route may be changed. This can happen because the temperature inland can be several degrees colder than on the coast so a ride to, say, Horam or Heathfield may get changed to Rottingdean or Brighton to avoid the risk of black ice.

If a ride is cancelled, altered or delayed then the Rides Calendar will be updated with the details at least one hour before the planned start time of the ride. Members in the CSH Tourers WhatsApp Group will receive a message immediately a decision is made to change a ride. (Please see my previous post: Cycle Seahaven Tourers’ WhatsApp Group).

Sunday morning touring rides are now starting at the slightly later time of 9.00am at the Martello Tower on Seaford Promenade. The start time for Tuesday and Thursday touring rides remains unchanged at 9.30am, usually at the entrance to the Seven Sisters Country Park car park in Friston Forest although occasionally at the Martello Tower.

Happy and safe cycling,

Clive