The Sussex Ways Ride for Fun – Den’s CS 100 Mile loop from Seaford via an Overnight stop in Pound Hill, Copthorne and Gatwick
Denis Bass (Den) designed, mostly pre-rode and led a ride to include the Cuckoo Trail, NCN21, Forest Way, Worth Way and the Downs Link in a 2 day mix of off-road, and country lane riding. With additional thanks to David and Jane for devising the initial route from Three Bridges southwards. There were 7 of us; Sue, Mike, Jane, David, Hilary, Den and me. David rode lantern rouge on the way north and I took that role on the southward leg. The weather was kind to us to say the least!
A Friday night briefing at Denis and Sharon’s plus some lovely food and drink and meeting with some new friends and co-riders.
Saturday – Day One….54.2 miles, 3,471ft, average 9.3MPH.
Like so many great rides we set off at 8am for a leg warmer up the concrete track to Bopeep. Then it was straight down the other side via Arlington, a brief puncture stop and the Cuckoo Trail. Then Coffee at Wessons, obviously. After Heathfield the climbing was a bit more serious.
I was very impressed when we rolled in to Eridge for our 1pm lunch stop at the Huntsman about 3 minutes earlier than planned…! People worked hard and Den kept us to the timetable.
There were still climbs aplenty after Eridge but it felt like we soon entered the Worth Way/Forest Way trails on the way in to Three Bridges and Crawley. Three of us also added a quick blast after the Worth Way round Grattons Park to David and Jane’s place for a convivial and very welcome supper at Jane and David’s. I mention this because I was surprised (pleasantly) at the amount of green space and rideable trails actually in the greater Crawley area. (Don’t prejudge eh?)
NB like all the best CS ride leaders when Den says ‘It’s mostly downhill from here’ he means ‘It’s mostly uphill from here.’
Sunday – Day Two …..53.4 miles, 2,089ft, average 9.5MPH
An 0830 start and a puncture out of the garage for one of us – soon fixed ahead of our rendezvous by the A22 (and a helping hand for a passing rider who was new to gears!) and on through the suburbs of Crawley; Three Bridges, Broadfield, Tilgate etc etc. David and Jane’s route took us (over some short sharp bumps in the road) past the ultra manicured Manning Heath Golf Course which looks more stately home than sporting amenity…and via Hammerpond Woods to Clearwater Country Park and a coffee stop (who said Grand Tour?). We took the Downs Link from here and though delayed a little by punctures arrived in plenty of time for lunch in Shoreham.
We nearly missed a turn in Shoreham but a generous roadie pointed us in the right direction and rode a short way with Den and Mike, just to make sure we would find NCN2: probably thought he’d keep it simple for mountain bikers on that unfamiliar tarmac stuff. By now the sun was out but, surprisingly, the Brighton seafront seemed a bit quieter than usual from kamikaze pedestrians determined to walk in front of the bikes. And back to Seaford for 5.30pm on a lovely evening and a quick catch up. Last but not least a group hug for Sharon who toted our overnight bags.
Everyone contributed to two full days of riding – with plenty of banter, mutterings about steep hills, the usual questions about the ride leader’s parentage – or sanity – (joking, honestly) and lots and lots of positive effort to encourage each other over the lumpy bits. I loved it!
We look forward to another similar ride