Sunday’s cross country ride was joined by a total of 21 riders of varying ability and fitness, joining or leaving the ride at various intervals. Here’s our ride report of a day blessed with sunshine, cool breezes and great company.
We started by taking the train from Seaford or Eastbourne to meet up at Falmer railway station where we joined forces with our 16th rider. After some introductions and a quick chat about the ride we headed of through AMEX stadium’s perimeter road to join the long climb heading North towards Woodingdean on the new cycle lane. Before we reached the top we cut the corner to link up to the South Downs Way, then onto Kingston Ridge on the Northern border of Castle Hill nature reserve. Such a big climb was a rather tough start to the day, but the weather was dry and we had a slight following breeze.
After a rest we continued on the undulating South Downs Way (SDW) with epic views over the Weald, to be rewarded with the long fast descent of Iford Hill down the concrete farm road.
Gus at the top of Iford Hill
After going though a particularly muddy cow field we had a puncture – the only one on the ride. 10 minutes later we had repaired the tube (and had a welcome breather) so we all continued down to South Farm, crossing the C7 into Southease. After crossing the railway and the road-bridge over the A26 we ‘looked forward’ to climbing the steep and daunting Itford Hill towards Firle Beacon. We were already an hour and a half into the ride, so Itford Hill did not look welcoming. We had the option of taking the train home and we were on the doorstep to the YHA café – two alternative and attractive options – but everyone wanted a crack at the hill. There was no rush and we still had a long way to go, so we got there when we got there. Some rode, some walked, and some did a bit of both.
Two hours into the ride and we were riding along the top towards Firle Beacon, past the carpark at the top of Firle Bostal, and onward to the carpark at the top of BoPeep Bostal (a bostal is a small road up a steep hill). 12.5 miles from the start we had reached Bopeep carpark where four riders (one only 14 years old – amazing!) left the group and went down the hill to Seaford. We had planned to meet four others at this point but we were late, so that group had arranged to head off with Debbie (our latest ride leader) to Alfriston for Coffee and to keep warm. The main group caught up with the other five riders (one rode out from Polegate to join us) and, after a headcount and a bit more banter, we headed off towards Windover Hill via Lullington Church – a 580′ climb in only two miles – another one of the tough climbs one expects on the SDW.
Riders spread out across the middle of Windover Hill
After the long and arduous climb (and plenty of rest, snacks and hydration) four riders split from the main group and continued on the South Downs Way to go home to Eastbourne, led by Ray. The remaining thirteen continued into the top of Friston Forest for a lovely fast descent of ‘Cardiac Hill’ and along to West Dean pond and the road over to Exceat Hill. We took the alternative cycle route at the back of the Golden Galleon (Cuckmere Inn) before saying our goodbyes to go our separate ways to various parts of Seaford & Newhaven.
The ground conditions were soggy, making it hard going, but we had a great time. Roll on the drier months where we can go further and faster.
Falmer to Windover to Seaford – 25 Miles
Falmer to Seaford – 17 Miles
Seaford to Windover to Seaford – 17 Miles