Eleven riders set out from the White Lion at 8:15 on a bright and sunny Sunday morning to follow Firle Road all the way to Bopeep , where we met up with our twelfth rider. The going was slow due to the very soft conditions (as expected), so we took plenty of breathers on the way. At BoPeep, an hour into the ride, one of our regular riders shared out some homemade orange and brandy flapjacks – and very nice they were too. After sustenance (as per the nutrition blog) we struck out for Firle Beacon, which was covered in thick fog. Visibility was very poor but the route was well worn and easy to follow. In dry conditions it’s best to know your way because it’s easy to get lost when the tracks are not so well defined.
Up till now the route had been mostly uphill, so at the top of Firle Beacon we could look forward to some gentle rolling descents. The fog hid the bright sunshine so it was pretty chilly on this section but we all had warmer gear to put on. The easier terrain meant we started go gain a bit more pace, so we were soon at the top of Itford Hill. It’s a shame we couldn’t see the stunning views along the River Ouse from Newhaven to Lewes, but there’s always next time. The descent of Itford Hill down to Southease is very steep, so we took it easy on the wet grass and chalk. At the bottom of Itford Hill we crossed the A26 over the wooden bridge that took us to the Courtyard Café for teas and coffee (and maybe a little bit of cake). Two riders had continued onto to catch the train so, after the second round of sustenance, the remaining ten returned home via the river bank – a much easier and flatter ride than the outward journey.
The top of the river banks was easy going (well, compared to the rest of the ride) so we made good time to Piddinghoe where we had to ride a short section on the road. We then cut back onto ‘The Hoe’ (a hidden park with a new children’s play area and tennis courts) and re-joined the river banks to continue to Newhaven. At the boatyards we rode up Elphick Road to link up with Newhaven’s growing cycle network, where one of the riders departed for home which was nearby. We then rode onto the Ouse Estuary Trail and back to Seaford, arriving at around noon.
The outward ten miles (mostly climbing) took around two hours. We stayed in the café around 45 minutes (partly my fault for forgetting the code to open the secure bike sheds outside the café) and the return 9 miles took about an hour and 20mins.
Sunday has been alternating between beginner and intermediate, this ride being intermediate.