Ripe’s Winged Wheel: Good News

The CTC Winged Wheel plaque, which used to be on the old Lamb Inn at Ripe, has been restored and is now mounted on the wall at the front of the Ripe Village Stores. The above photo was taken by a lone cyclist who was passing through Ripe on Wednesday afternoon: Dave Sutton.

It’s almost two years ago when I took a picture of the derelict pub and posted an entry to the blog about the Winged Wheel. These cast-iron plaques, two feet in diameter, were issued by the CTC about 120 years ago to approved inns and hotels. The Lamb was clearly an approved inn so it’s seems apt that it should be transferred to the Village Stores opposite which has a superb cyclist friendly café inside. The plaque has been restored by members of the East Sussex CTC.

The café is, of course, closed during the Coronavirus outbreak but I’m sure that when the restrictions are lifted plenty of cyclists will be visiting the café as soon as it reopens. I know that the café proprietor is intending to have a ‘Winged Wheel’ event one Sunday at which local cycling clubs will be invited. We’ll certainly be there.

Ripe’s Winged Wheel: Latest News

The picture on the left was taken in May 2018. It shows a CTC Winged Wheel plaque on the derelict Lamb Inn in Ripe. The plaque had probably been there for over 100 years. I posted an entry on this blog at the time; we hoped the plaque could be saved although we feared it could finish up in a builders skip. Fortunately, the village stores opposite the pub was on the case.

Now, I should explain that the Ripe Village Stores includes a superb café. It’s a favourite of the tourers; in fact we visited it more times than any other café last year. It’s very cyclist friendly, the food, tea and coffee are great and we often meet other cyclists there as well

Over the past 18 months or so the plaque has been saved, handed over to the village stores and restored (it was in a bit of a sorry state) by someone in the East Sussex CTC. It’s now in pristine condition as you can see from the picture on the right.

The plaque is very heavy, being made from cast iron, but Derek managed to lift it onto a table so that I could take a photo. The next stage is for it to be mounted on the wall outside the café. This won’t be easy given it’s weight and size: about two feet in diameter. The café proprietor has advised us that when it’s installed there will be an opening event on a Sunday at which cycling clubs will be invited. We’ll certainly be there. Watch this space for more news.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Refreshment Stops Revisited

Looking for a good place to stop on your cycle ride for some rest and refreshment? If so, take a look at the list of refreshment stops that the tourers use on their rides.

It’s recently been revised to include only those which we consider local in touring terms so they’re all in Sussex plus a few on the western side of Kent. Those further away such as in the Seine-Maritime department of France have been deleted but will appear in a future list which may prove useful to cyclists staying in Dieppe.

This revised list comprises thirty refreshment stops of which the ten we most frequently visit are as follows:

The Refreshment List is a Google Map showing the location of each of the thirty places.

Happy cycling,

Clive

A Perfect Autumn Cycle Ride

Cyclists outside the Di Paolo Café in Bexhill

Thursday was a superb day, dry and sunny with no wind: the perfect autumn day for cycling. Our destination was Bexhill, one of our favourite destinations for a ride. It’s a virtually flat route apart from Chapel Hill just after the start; in fact roads don’t get much flatter than Rickney Lane which we cycled along to cross the Pevensey Levels!

This made for easy cycling, especially as there wasn’t a headwind so we cruised along at a rate of knots more familiar to the Intermediates and Sportives! it didn’t seem long before we reached Bexhill and was cycling along the promenade towards our café stop at the Colonnade, underneath the De La Warr Pavilion.

We were surprised to find the Colonnade fenced off. (It appears that ‘Tea Beside The Sea’ café has permanently closed; the lease expired). However, there’s no shortage of cafes in Bexhill so we soon found one the other side of the De La Warr Pavilion called ‘Di Paolo Café’. What a super place: friendly staff, good food and drink and quite large inside so plenty of tables and chairs. It’s since been added to our Refreshment List.

This list now has over 40 cyclist friendly refreshment stops that the tourers are happy to use. Most are in Sussex but a few are in Kent and the Seine-Maritime department, just across the English Channel in France. This list may be of use to anyone who is planning a ride and looking for somewhere to stop for a rest and some nourishment.

Cyclists at the rather spooky Arlington Tea Garden

The first place on the Refreshment List is the Arlington Tea Garden which we’ve been stopping at for many years, often on a Thursday when returning to Exceat on our longer distance rides. It’s only about six miles back to the finish at the car park in Friston Forest. Thursday was no exception. We’d made good time and the sun was shining so we called in for a cuppa. We were impressed by the Halloween decorations.

All in all this had been a perfect autumn cycle ride: excellent weather for the time of year, great company and two super refreshment stops.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Tourers visit the Lavender Line

It was off to the Lavender Line at Isfield for the tourers on Sunday, a round trip of 43 miles, to visit one of our favourite refreshment stops, Cinders. It’s the station buffet which is run by volunteers and, as you walk in, you feel as if you’re going back in time to the days of steam. There are plenty of old railway signs and pictures adorning the walls which add to the interest. After getting our drinks we decided to sit outside on the platform and admire the trains; there was certainly plenty happening!

The ride to and from Isfield took us along some very pleasant country lanes passing through Laughton and Palehouse Common on the outward trip, coming back via Glynde on the return trip. At this time of year of course, the leaves of the hedgerows and trees are changing colour so we’ll soon be doing some Autumn Colours rides, similar to last year. As usual, details will be on the Rides Calendar.

Happy cycling,

Clive

More Refreshment Stops

The Refreshment Stops map has recently been updated with a couple more café stops in Sussex and seven in Seine-Maritime. I’ve decided to start adding some in France as I know that some Cycle Seahaven cyclists hop across the Channel to Dieppe for a bit of cycling in the Seine-Maritime départment and, of course, some continue to Paris.

This map may be of use to anyone who is planning a ride and looking for somewhere to stop for a rest and some nourishment. All the stops on this map, mostly cafes, I’ve found to be cyclist friendly. Some are better than others but I’m not going to grade them, suffice to say that they’re of an acceptable standard. However, I will start adding a bit more detail to the descriptions which may prove useful, especially if there’s something unique about the place.

For example the café we visited today on our Sunday ride is a gem of a place. It’s the Castle Cottage Tearoom by the castle in Pevensey. As you enter the café you feel you’re going back in time to the 1930/40s; the background music reinforces that feeling. The service is very good as well and there’s a lovely garden to sit in; well worth a visit.

The following link will take you to the map: Refreshment Stops

There are now 37 refreshment stops on the map. More will be added whenever we find a café, tea garden or bar that we like and is cyclist friendly. None are shown in Seaford as they are too close to cycle to on a touring ride.

I hope you find it useful.

Happy café wheeling,

Clive

A Superb Long Touring Ride

Following our superb short touring ride on Tuesday five of us cycled to Littlehampton on Thursday, a round trip of 70 miles.

A ride along the coast to Littlehampton is completely different to our usual rides which are along picturesque country lanes. This trip mostly involves cycling along cycle paths and promenades but still very pleasant as we see a variety of seascapes.

We set off from the Martello Tower in Seaford on Thursday morning and were fortunate to be pushed along the promenade by a strong tailwind which made for easy cycling. However, the thought crossed our minds that this could become a challenging headwind for the return trip. We wondered whether we may have to cut the ride short at, say, Shoreham or Worthing.

We carried on at a fair pace. It wasn’t long before we reached Saltdean where we descended down the short steep hill onto the undercliff path. Then it was ‘plain sailing’ and apart from a small hill at Brighton Marina, it was virtually flat all the way to Littlehampton.

We seemed to reach Worthing quite quickly where we had a refreshment stop at the ‘Coast Café des Artistes’ on the seafront. The wind had died down somewhat so we decided to press on to Littlehampton for lunch.

Littlehampton was bathed in sunshine; it usually is when we cycle there! After fish & chips at the ‘Gallery Tea Rooms’ (very good value) on the promenade we started on our return trip. There was a slight headwind but nothing too challenging. However, cycling on flat terrain against a slight headwind means that there’s no opportunity to freewheel; you’re always pedalling! It was a bit tiring so, on reaching Rottingdean, we stopped at ‘Molly’s Café’ on the promenade for afternoon tea. After about 20 minutes and suitably refreshed, we set-off to cycle the final ten miles back to Seaford.

It had been a superb long touring ride. The three cafes we stopped at are on our Refreshment Stops list.

Happy cycling,

Clive

A Superb Short Touring Ride

We aim to have three touring rides each week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Tuesday rides are the shortest at approximately 25 miles; the ride today was no exception.

The weather conditions this morning were ideal for cycling: dry, sunny and virtually no wind. Eight of us gathered at the entrance to the car park in Friston Forest at 9.30 am and it wasn’t long before we were puffing and panting up Chapel Hill. As usual we took a breather at the top and admired the view before coasting downhill to Wilmington, passing the Long Man on the way.

Our destination was Ripe but rather than go directly there we took a more circuitous route via Chalvington and Golden Cross so we could spend more time enjoying the beautiful countryside as we cycled along some superb country lanes.

Ripe Village Stores

The café in Ripe Village Stores is one of our favourite refreshment stops and, as usual, we were warmly welcomed by the staff who are all volunteers. We lingered there for quite some time; elevenses almost became twelveses!

Then it was back on our bikes and, this time, we took a direct route back to the car park at Friston Forest. It had been a thoroughly pleasant morning of cycling, superb scenery and great company.

Our next ride will be to Littlehampton on Thursday, a round trip of about 70 miles. Thursday rides are our longest touring rides and are often over 50 miles.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Tourers clock-up the Miles

Over the past week there have been five touring rides and anyone cycling in all of them would have clocked-up 250 miles. It provided a good opportunity for cyclists to get some decent mileage in their legs, especially for those going on long distance cycle tours soon.

It started with a ride to Heathfield on Sunday which always proves mildly challenging as there’s a fair bit of climbing involved to get there. However, as usual, the return trip via Lions Green, Muddles Green and Chalvington was very pleasant as it’s mostly downhill or flat and goes along some very picturesque country lanes. That was 42 miles completed.

The following two days (Monday and Tuesday) were birthday rides for Joe and John. Each ride was 70 miles so no prizes for guessing how many years they were celebrating! The rides involved cycling a few laps of a route based on a ‘figure of eight’ circuit starting at Arlington Reservoir and passing through Ripe, Golden Cross, Chiddingly, Laughton, Chalvington, Arlington and Upper Dicker. There were many refreshment stops at some of our favourite cafes such as the Ripe Village Stores, the Village Shop Café at Upper Dicker, Chiddingly Village Café at Muddles Green and the Arlington Tea Garden.

Cyclists at the entrance to Lydd Airport

Wednesday was a rest day but on Thursday six of us loaded our bikes into the backs of our cars and drove to Rye Harbour for a 48 mile tour of the Romney Marsh. This area is a cycling paradise as the terrain is virtually flat and the country lanes are extremely quiet. Lunch was at Biggles Restaurant in Lydd Airport and afternoon tea at Miss Mollett’s High Class Tea Room in Appledore. It was certainly high class: bone china crockery and pots of leaf tea; no tea bags here and, yes, we were provided with tea strainers; remember those?

Friday was another rest day but on Saturday morning, some of us cycled to Molly’s Café on the promenade at Rottingdean for morning coffee; no bone china here but the Americano was superb. This was a round trip of 20 miles which raised the total distance for the week to 250 miles.

It was a great week of cycling and all of us now feel a bit fitter and ready for those long distance cycle tours.

Happy Easter,

Clive