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Final Touring Ride of Winter

Today, the 28th February is the last day of Winter; that’s the Meteorological Winter of course. There’s no point in pretending that Winter still has three weeks to run, ie to the Equinox, as it was clear on our touring ride today that Spring has arrived judging by all the daffodils blooming in hedgerows and gardens.

It was a beautiful morning as seven of us cycled towards Hailsham to join the Cuckoo Trail and then head southwards to the Old Loom Mill at Summerhill for a refreshment stop. It was virtually wall to wall sunshine, there was just a slight breeze and the air felt warmer than in recent weeks; ideal cycling weather for this time of year. It certainly felt like a springlike morning!

It’s been quite a good Winter for the tourers. A few rides have been cancelled due to inclement weather but, since 1st December, 23 touring rides have taken place which is possibly the best Winter season the tourers have had.

Hopefully, the number of touring rides during Spring will much greater, starting with a ride to Shoreham Airport on Thursday, 2nd March. Over the next three months there will be rides to all the café stops on our Refreshment List plus a few new ones like Old Loom Mill today.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Third Time Lucky for Muddles Green

It was third time lucky for a touring ride to Muddles Green today (Tuesday); two previous attempts this year had been cancelled due to bad weather. However, the weather today was fine and eight tourers cycled to Muddles Green for a refreshment stop at one of our favourite cafes, the Chiddingly Village Shop & Cafe. It’s a community shop located in what used to be a farmyard at Farley Farm.

Hopefully, the cold weather of Winter is over and we can look forward to more fine days; after all, Spring is just around the corner!

We try to have three touring rides each week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Tuesday rides are the shortest at approximately 25 miles. Those on Thursdays are the longest and are usually more than 40 miles; sometimes as much as 70. The Sunday rides tend to be between 30 and 40 miles. Our rides are called touring rides as we cycle at an average cycling pace of about 12½ mph, the sort of pace that most cyclists would adopt on a long distance cycle tour. Also, all our rides include a refreshment stop.

Other rides being planned later this month are to Blackboys, Horam, Rottingdean and Bexhill and possibly Isfield. So, if you’re an experienced cyclist and fancy a bit of ‘touring’ then please give our rides a try. Details are on the Rides Calendar.

Happy cycling

Clive

Viva Las Whitesmith

Four riders started at the Martello Tower for this Sunday’s Touring Section Ride to Happy Days Café at Whitesmith. However by the time we got there three other members had joined at various points along the route.

The ride took us along our usual lanes, after the climb up Chapel Hill, where we always take a breather at the top. Our pace was just right for riding as a group in the cool and damp conditions. And the refreshment stop was at café we hadn’t been to before – Happy Days at Whitesmith. The café owner is a big fan of Elvis and we were quite surprised to see he was in the building.

There are regular Touring Section (for riders who like to average about 12.5 mph) rides planned. Please check the calendar for details, you will always be given a warm welcome.

Happy Cycling.

Dave Sutton

Touring Rides Galore in 2016

There were over a hundred touring rides this year; there would have been more but some were cancelled due to bad weather.

Our last touring ride of 2016 was this morning (Thursday) which included a refreshment stop at the Luna Rossa Italian Restaurant in Newhaven, one of our favourite places to stop for morning coffee. We had intended to go to Rottingdean but the weather conditions suggested the risk of black ice on the higher ground between Newhaven and Peacehaven. We decided it was safer to cut the ride short at Newhaven; the thought of an excellent cup of coffee at the Luna Rossa helped with the decision making!

As usual we had a warm welcome at the restaurant, practised our Italian and drank some superb coffee. Then, before returning to Seaford we cycled along Fort Rd to West Side Promenade; there’s a good view of Seaford Head from there.

This was our 103rd touring ride of 2016 and was one of our shorter rides at just ten miles. Most of our rides this year have been between 20 and 45 miles; the total distance covered by all our rides being about 3,500 miles.

Our longest rides, all round trips, have been via Littlehampton (70 miles), Hastings Pier (51 miles) and Worthing Pier (also 51 miles). There was also a 200K (125 miles) Challenge Ride which comprised numerous laps around a Figure of Eight route passing through Arlington, Chalvington and Ripe.

One of our most enjoyable and easiest rides of the year was a tour of Romney Marsh, a ride of a tad under 50 miles. We simply put the bikes in the backs of our cars and drove to Rye Harbour; it took about an hour to drive there. We’ll do more of those ‘drive and ride’ trips in 2017.

All our rides include refreshment stops and during the year I’ve been updating a map (Google Maps) to show the locations and brief details of those we’ve found to be welcoming to cyclists. There are now 25 refreshment stops on the map. The link to it is: Refreshment Stops

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. But, please don’t arrive in mud splattered clothing and footwear as the welcome may not be so friendly, especially at restaurants.

Our next touring ride will be on New Year’s Day, weather permitting. Hopefully, this will be the first of another 100+ rides in 2017.

Happy New Year,

Clive

Another Superb Autumn Touring Ride

This morning (Tuesday) was superb for cycling: warm, dry and virtually no wind. Our touring ride was shorter than usual at only 20 miles but it included some gravel tracks where our speed is less than when cycling on tarmac roads.

Seven of us started at our usual place, ie the car park in Friston Forest, and cycled towards Wilmington which, of course, meant cycling up Chapel Hill. It’s a super hill as it provides a reasonably challenging climb and you feel you’ve had a good workout by the time you reach the summit. We always take a breather at the top, admire the view and regroup.

We continued down the other side, through Wilmington, across the A27 and headed towards Robin Post Lane. Shortly after joining this lane we turned right to follow NCN Route 2 through Oggs Wood which eventually leads to the Cuckoo Trail near Polegate. In the past this route through the wood has been quite difficult to cycle along with a road bike as it has usually been muddy with one part being quagmire. There is now a small bridge over the area that used to be the quagmire with a gulley underneath; presumably this allows water to flow through. Also gravel has been added to the path so it’s much easier to cycle along, especially with treaded tyres.

On reaching the Cuckoo Trail we headed north towards Hailsham. The surface of this shared use path is very good between Polegate to Hailsham so, this morning we were able to glide along without being troubled by ruts and potholes, whilst admiring the Autumn colours of the trees and hedgerows.

We have a new short cut through Hailsham so it wasn’t long before we were back on Robin Post Lane and cycling through Abbot’s Wood; the colours of the trees were stunning. The gravel track is in good condition apart from a few potholes at the Hailsham end so it makes for a very pleasant cycle ride if you have the appropriate tyres.

Our refreshment stop today was at Arlington Tea Garden, one of our favourite refreshment stops. Whilst we sat in the garden enjoying our elevenses in the Autumn sunshine we realised that this could be our last ride this year in such brilliant weather. A cold front was due later today with the possibility of unsettled weather next week.

We’ve enjoyed some superb cycling this Autumn but it looks as if Winter is just round the corner!

Happy cycling,

Clive

Easy Cycling on Romney Marsh

If ever you want somewhere flat to cycle with plenty of quiet county roads then try Romney Marsh. Three of us did precisely that last Thursday. We put the bikes in the back of our cars and drove to Rye Harbour where there’s a large car park and, it’s free! It took just over an hour to get there.

Joe had plotted a route of a tad under 50 miles for our Romney Marsh Tour; it proved to be the easiest half century I’ve ever done on a bicycle!

We cycled into Rye (there’s a cycle path for most of the way between the harbour and town) and then along a fairly straight and flat road to Appledore for a refreshment stop at Miss Mollett’s High Class Tea Room. It was excellent and has been added to our Refreshment List.

Then, we cycled on some very quiet and narrow roads to New Romney where we crossed over the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch narrow gauge railway line and on to Dungeness; nice view of the power station! There was a gentle breeze which wasn’t a problem but it did cross my mind that on a windy day it could prove quite challenging. Being flat, Romney Marsh is rather exposed with little in the way of shelter; it’s similar on the Pevensey Levels.

A few miles later we entered Lydd Airport for a spot of lunch in Biggles Restaurant and watched a biplane practising landings and take offs. There were plans on the wall for a future expansion of the airport with a longer runway and more terminals. Perhaps we won’t need that third runway at Heathrow after all!

Then it was back to Rye Harbour and one last refreshment stop at the William The Conqueror pub (super little pub) before driving back to Seaford.

Certainly, Romney Marsh is a good place for cycling if you don’t like hills although not on a windy day!

Happy Cycling,

Clive

A Superb Autumn Cycle Ride

Cyclists joining Robin Post Lane near Arlington

Cyclists joining Robin Post Lane near Arlington

Today (Tuesday) was a superb day for cycling.

It was a typical early autumn day. The morning started a bit chilly but soon warmed up and there was very little wind. The trees had started to lose their leaves but most were still green; the autumn colours are still two or three weeks away.

Our ride was different to our usual touring rides in that we departed from tarmac and used a gravel road for a change. This was Robin Post Lane between Thornwell Rd near Arlington and Arlington Road West near Hailsham. It’s only about 1.5 miles long but it’s very pleasant as it goes through Abbot’s Wood and the gravel road is quite good to cycle along if you have the appropriate tyres. Everyone had treaded tyres on their wheels, mostly 32 mm wide.

After Robin Post Lane we cycled into Hailsham to join the Cuckoo Trail to Horam where we stopped for elevenses at Wesson’s Café. After that it was back to Exceat via Muddles Green and Arlington, a round trip of 32 miles.

Some of our future rides on Tuesdays will include gravel roads and the like so, as long as you have treaded tyres of about 32 mm wide, you should be fine. Our longer touring rides, ie those on Thursdays and Sundays will not include gravel roads so should be OK for 25 mm slick tyres such as Continental Gatorskins.

We will repeat this particular ride in two or three weeks when the autumn colours have arrived. It should be fantastic.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Bluebell Cycle Tour

Cyclists in a woodland glade on the Cuckoo Trail

Cyclists in a woodland glade on the Cuckoo Trail

Our touring ride this morning (Tuesday) included cycling along the Cuckoo Trail from Hailsham to Heathfield and returning along country lanes through Lions Green to Muddles Green. There were bluebells aplenty along these stretches of the route; carpets of them in woodland glades.

Five of us took part in this ride and at times we spent more time admiring the flowers rather than watching the path or road ahead but there were no mishaps. Apart from the bluebells there were primroses and wood anenomes and the occasional whiff of wild garlic. It made for a fantastic springtime cycling experience.

Cyclists at Frenches Halt on the Cuckoo Trail near Heathfield

Cyclists at Frenches Halt on the Cuckoo Trail near Heathfield

 

The photo above is one such woodland glade on the Cuckoo Trail about a mile south of Horam. On both sides of the trail were extensive carpets of white wood anenomes with a few bluebells mixed in.

Further along the Cuckoo Trail we came across Frenches Halt. It’s in a back garden which includes a signal box! Press the nose of Thomas the Tank Engine (on a poster) and all manner of things happen: the signal changes, a whistle blows followed by the sound of a steam engine puffing away; great fun!

It was another super touring ride and at the end I felt we should have called it the Bluebell Cycle Tour. I’ll be repeating this ride on Sunday, 1 May. Not to be missed!

Happy cycling,

Clive Aberdour

A Perfect Springtime Ride

Cyclists at Chiddingly Village Shop & Cafe

Cyclists at Chiddingly Village Shop & Cafe

Seven members took part in the touring ride to Muddles Green today (Tuesday), a round trip of 37 miles at our usual average speed (whilst cycling) of 12.5 mph. The spring weather was perfect, dry and sunny with the temperature reaching 18ᵒC and just a slight breeze.

Spring is a great time of year to cycle along the country lanes of Sussex with the hedgerows bursting into life and the grass verges being full of wild flowers including primroses, bluebells and celandines. Couple this with today’s excellent weather and you could say that this is cycling paradise!

As usual our ride included a refreshment stop which today was at one of our favourite cafes, the Chiddingly Village Shop and Café at Farley Farm. We’ve been frequent visitors of this café since it opened in 2012 and have never been disappointed. It’s run by volunteers who are always cheerful, it’s cyclist friendly, the service is good and they make a nice cup of coffee!

This was a perfect springtime ride. Let’s hope for more fine spring days.

Happy cycling,

Clive