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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle Seahaven Cycle with Recycle

Sussex Community Development Association invited Cycle Seahaven to organise a ride for staff and work colleagues who are involved in the bike recycling project, Recycle.  SCDA is a  charity who support a range of community activities, helping people gain confidence in the workplace whilst learning new skills. One of these is to up-cycle donated bicycles destined for scrap, giving skill training to their operatives and making the bikes available to the public to buy.

Our Ride Leader Co-ordinator, Mike Winser,   organised a route with the assistance of three other Ride Leaders – Sarah Winser,  Dave Sutton and Roger Lambert.

On August 17th the ride started at the Centenary Park Peacehaven and the eleven riders from SCDA, who were riding bikes that had been up-cycled by themselves, cycled 9 miles via cross country, cyclepaths and road to Denton Island where SCDA were running an open day which Cycle Seahaven supported with the help of Denis Bass and Diane Norman.

A great day was had by all and we received a lovely response:

 

Hi Mike

I wanted to say thank you and the others in your team for playing such a huge part in making the day a success.

Your team was a real credit to the club. I wanted to say a special thanks to the way you supported a number of different riders, those who had bike difficulties to encouraging struggling riders to enable everyone to get to the finish point.

Really grateful to those who had taken time off work to be there.

Lee Wakefield, Service Manager SCDA

 

 

Tourers and Friends Go Off Road.

Following a chat over a cup of tea on a recent regular Touring Section ride, a few stated we would like to have an off road ride before the end of the summer, with a ride graded at 2/3C duly posted with a 9:30 start.

This Wednesday, five of the Touring Section Riders were joined at the White Lion by three club MTB riders who had managed to slope work or free the busy retirement diaries for the ride. Bikes ranged from 3 of the latest MTB Ebikes, to an old school cool Peugeot Rigid, with all points in between.

Following the usual introductions, the safety brief was given (don’t fall off as I don’t want to do any paperwork) we headed off. As we went up the concrete road towards the Downs, the regular touring riders noted that this section was smother than the NCN Route 2 concrete road through Peacehaven!

Up towards the mist shrouded downs we went, with regular stops to admire the view/regroup, before we knew it we were at Firle Beacon, here in the absence of usual touring guru Clive, I informed the group that as this was the highest point on today’s ride it must all be downhill from here, judging by the groans from the group I could tell this was not met with glee.

With Sue Parker racing on and opening as many gates as she could, we descended towards Firle Beacon Car Park and on towards Beddingham Towers.

Coming up, was the only technical part of the ride, wet chalk descent of Itford Hill. I advised all of the line suggested by Team Winser, Michelle Brett advised us roadies of a suitable distance between riders, this was not for stopping distance but sheep pooh clearance, and sound advice it was too!

After crossing the A26 over the bridge, Michelle demonstrated the ancient Sussex craft of sheep pooh removal using available flora!

I was somewhat perplexed at C7 crossing, not at all safe! But after a little climb we were at the back end of Peacehaven, heading towards the Big Park for Coffee and Cake, well it was a Touring Section hosted ride after all.

Duly refreshed, following a democratic vote we headed off and rode the cliff top path back to Newhaven then the usual route back to Seaford.

In conclusion, all in all it was a great morning out, it was refreshing to ride with a mix of Roadies and MTB’ers, all getting along and having fun, not worrying about pace. We will be doing a repeat performance next month, watch out further details will be on the Calendar.

Dave Sutton.

 

 

July Family Forest Ride

On Saturday 28th July, while some members took part in the London Freecycle, 12 others joined us for our local freecycle courtesy of the monthly Cycle Seahaven Forest Family Ride.

As this was a smaller group we were able to let the kids play on the pump track and then onto the table tops where all the kids (both big and old) had fun discovering a part of the forest they did not know existed. 

 

We then headed past Moby Dick and on round to the Lookout where we did the Snow Run and Final Descent before heading back to the car park. 

Family Ride: Ride Report

 
On Saturday 30th June twelve riders took to the forest as part of our monthly Forest Family Ride. As it was a smaller group this month we were able to stop at the Pump Track where the kids (both big and small) enjoyed honing their skills around the berms.
 
This month we were joined by a local Seaford family who had only earlier that week googled local clubs as their 8-year old was getting more and more into cycling and they wanted to know if there were any local clubs they could join as a family. Fortuitously, they spotted the upcoming family ride this weekend so came along and are now planning on joining the club. As Dad, Dixon is a roadie, he even decided to join us on his eight-year old son’s second bike giving us a couple of great photo opportunities.
 
I sense the N+1 principle is soon to be evoked! Juliette commented on how, though she is glad they came along, she fears they will now be spending the rest of the summer with a very keen and enthusiastic eight-year old wanting to do this all the time now as he pretty much headed the ride and TOTALLY enjoyed showing everyone the Snow Run and Final Descent.
 
I’m very happy to report another young local lad has been introduced to the wealth of free fun available on our doorstep by simply bringing your bike down to the forest.
 
It was very hot and the shade of the forest provided some much welcome relief from the sun.
 
Mark Woodgate

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’.

 

SDW in 3 Days

Thursday evening saw 16 bikes loaded on to the club trailer and overnight bags loaded into Sherpa Diana Normans car ready for the off on Friday morning

Roger Lambert was our nominated driver of the Lions Club Mini Bus which took 12 cyclists together with the trailer. We also managed to rope in a friend Damien Watts to drive another 4 cyclists to our start point in Winchester.

Arriving in Winchester at 8.30am we finally found a suitable place to unload and get ready for the start of a great adventure. Waving goodbye to Roger and Damien we cycled up to the start point of the South Downs Way.

Our target on day 1 was Winchester to Harting Down through the rolling Hampshire Countryside. Approximately 30 miles and 3000 feet of climbing.

The start of the ride saw us battling stinging nettles and brambles for a short distance however after this we enjoyed beautiful views and undulating terrain. Buster Hill was probably our biggest climb of the day however it was certainly rewarded with the most amazing decent enjoyed by all.

Our first nights accommodation was at The White Hart in South Harting. A beautiful pub where we were made to feel so welcome. The staff were so friendly, food was delicious and the rooms were stunning we really did have a great evening here.

Saturday morning saw us start the day with a 1 mile nasty climb taking us back up to the South Downs Way. Super tough after a lovely cooked breakfast.

A few of us were tired today and struggled to get going but our lovely group rallied round and gave support. Before long we were up on top and rolling over the undulating terrain of the SDW.

The weather was perfect and the views amazing. Constant changing terrain kept us all on our toes but we managed to enjoy some wonderful breaks to enjoy our surroundings and take time out to eat.   Eating and drinking became a very important part of our daily routine. Especially the ice cream breaks

Day 2 saw a couple of riders crash and a few technical issues. As a group we rallied around and the support meant everyone getting back on bikes and continuing on the ride despite the bruises and blood

Following the grind up Truleigh Hill we all arrived at the YHA with huge smiles and definitely ready for dinner, showers and a nights rest

Sunday morning brought a tasty cooked breakfast, sore muscles and some very tired riders but today we were on our own playground. We knew what was ahead – the 4 big climbs but also with them the descents and of course the finish line.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Hilary who had been an inspiration to us all over the past 2 days but after a nasty fall and badly bruised ribs had no option to pull out. Lots of tears were shed by all and we have all promised to ride the last day again once Hilary is fully recovered.

Today was probably our best riding day. Every rider dug deep and rode like demons. We covered the miles so quickly that we all surprised ourselves. As a treat we stopped in Alfriston for a well deserved ice cream before tackling the last few climbs

Joined today by Alien and Gus who helped with gates and encouragement also helped the ride go smoother.

At the top of Eastbourne we hit the Elliedrome and we believe broke the record for the most number of riders at one time.

Emotions were high as we stopped to take in the views of Eastbourne and of course the final descent to the finish line where Sherpa Diana, Christina and Ellie were waiting to film and cheer us on and pop the bubbly

The descent was amazing and such an achievement by all. This ride has been so much more wonderful thanks to the group working so well together and supporting each other throughout the journey.

We are all so lucky to be part of such an amazing club and to have such a wonderful family supporting us all.

Summertime Cycling has arrived

Astronomers think that summer starts on the summer solstice (21st June) but meteorologists and cyclists know that it really starts on the first day of June. It’s now the 3rd June and the weather conditions for today’s Sunday morning cycle rides were perfect: warm, dry and virtually no wind. Yes. Summer has certainly arrived.

The three road cycling groups, the Tourers, Intermediates and Sportives met at the Martello Tower at 8.30am. The destination was Horam so the tourers took the direct route and headed northwards to Horam. However, the sportives went west and the intermediates went east but arrived at the Lakeside Café in Horam before the tourers! Perhaps that’s not surprising as the tourers like to chat and admire the countryside.

It was great to see so many other cyclists on the roads; it almost felt as if we were cycling in France although, of course, we were on the opposite side of the road.

There will be more such cycle rides during the summer so it’s worth keeping an eye on the Rides Calendar.

Incidentally, there are three touring rides each week, on Tuesday and Thursday as well as on Sunday. Our Tuesday touring rides now incorporate sections of shorter, flatter routes aimed at those wanting to get back into cycling. We call this ‘Easy Touring’ and the typical route distance is 11 miles. This Tuesday, we’ll be going to Ripe. Details are on the Rides Calendar.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Springtime on the Cuckoo Trail

It’s a great time of year to cycle along the Cuckoo Trail. Spring has well and truly sprung; there’s an abundance of bluebells, primroses and wild garlic in the hedgerows and woodland glades, the birds are in full song and, of course, it’s traffic-free.

Seven of us cycled along it today from Hailsham to Heathfield, a distance of almost eight miles. It’s a gradual climb so nothing too challenging but it probably took us about an hour to cycle as we pedalled along (at 8 mph) admiring the wild flowers and listening to the bird song.

At Heathfield we had elevenses at the café in the Co-op supermarket. It’s not the sort of place where we normally have a refreshment stop but, on Joe’s recommendation, we gave it a try. Great! Good quality food and drink at competitive prices. We’ll go there again.

It was a super ride back via Lions Green and Muddles Green to Exceat; all downhill apart from a couple of lumps.

Happy cycling,
Clive