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Sunday Morning Touring Rides

Now that Spring has well and truly arrived, the Sunday morning touring rides will revert to an 8.30am start as from Sunday 20 March. Also, they will revert to starting at the Martello Tower.

Touring rides are for those cyclists who prefer to cycle at an average of 12½ mph whilst cycling; it is an average so clearly we go faster given a tail wind or flat terrain and slower uphill, especially Chapel Hill!

An aim of our Sunday morning touring rides is to be back in Seaford by about 12.30pm, give or take half an hour. Therefore, allowing for a 30 minute café stop, the distance of these rides is typically about 30 to 40 miles; occasionally a bit more or a bit less.

The ride next Sunday, 20 March will be to Horam, the distance being about 37 miles.

Happy cycling,

Clive

Ferry Saved

Since posting an item on the blog a week ago ‘Last Chance to Channel Hop to Dieppe’ it’s been announced this week that the Newhaven – Dieppe crossing will continue after the end of this year. That’s good news for Newhaven and the people who work on the ferry; also it maintains the vital sea link in the Avenue Verte cycle route between London and Paris.

The Syndicat Mixte de Promotion de l’Activité Transmanche (SMPAT) will run the service from 1 January 2016. (The SMPAT is comprised of the Departement de Seine-Maritime, the city authorities in Dieppe and Dieppe Chamber of Commerce). It says that it will continue to subsidise the route, but in the long-term is seeking to reduce the cost to the French taxpayer by attracting more investment from external partners.

The two vessels serving the route will be rebranded, but DFDS will continue to handle bookings and marketing until the end of March 2016, to ensure a smooth transition.

So, although there may not be the same urgency to hop across the Channel, an Autumn cycling break based in Dieppe still sounds like a good idea.

Happy sailing,

Clive

Two Hours to Bexhill

Cyclists taking a breather at the top of Chapel Hill

Cyclists taking a breather at the top of Chapel Hill

Rides to Bexhill always prove popular with cyclists who prefer to cycle at touring pace, i.e. an average speed of 12½ mph whilst cycling. The touring ride this morning (Sunday) was no exception as 11 cyclists met at the Martello Tower to commence the touring ride to Bexhill.

The route from Seaford to Bexhill is reasonably flat apart from Chapel Hill, a serious climb between Litlington and Wilmington. We always take a breather at the top and regroup. After Wilmington the route goes through Hailsham and then eastwards across the Pevensey Levels, along Rickney Lane and Sluice Lane to Bexhill. So, although this ride is a round trip of almost 50 miles, it’s quite easy to cycle; perhaps that’s why it’s so popular.

Cyclists outside the Italian Way

Cyclists outside the Italian Way

The weather conditions for the ride this morning were ideal, dry and sunny with just a slight breeze. We reached Bexhill in two hours, bang on schedule as the distance is almost 25 miles. Our refreshment stop was at the Italian Way restaurant, almost opposite the De La Warr Pavilion.

It was so pleasant sitting outside in the sunshine that we stayed there for quite a long time, about 45 minutes. The return journey was easy as we had a slight tail wind and, two hours later, we were back in Seaford.

The touring ride next weekend will be on Saturday instead of Sunday.

Clive

Our Annual Ride to Littlehampton

Cyclists at Littlehampton, on the Climping side of the river

Cyclists at Littlehampton, on the Climping side of the river

Our ride to Littlehampton has become an annual event having cycled it for the past three years, in 2012, 2013 and 2014. On Tuesday (16 June) we cycled it for the fourth time and as usual, the weather was kind to us being dry and sunny with only a slight breeze.

Most of the route is virtually flat with much of it being along promenades and the like so it makes for easy cycling. Just as well as the total distance is 75 miles so it’s our longest touring ride of the year although I’m considering a century touring ride this summer.

Every year the route improves. Last year we were able to cycle along Seaford promenade (in previous years cycling hadn’t been allowed along it) and we crossed a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists at Shoreham. This year we cycled on the superb new ‘shared use’ path between Newhaven and Peacehaven alongside the A259 which has a smooth tarmac surface; ideal for cycling on. Well done to Andy Lock and others in Cycle Seahaven who have campaigned for this path to be built.

Our route to Littlehampton follows National Cycle Route 2 except through Newhaven where we go via Elphick Road, Valley Rd, Brazen Close and The Fairway. This nicely joins the new ‘shared-use’ path alongside the A259. It’s far easier than following NCN Route 2 up Gibbon Rd and along the gravel and pot-holed track called The Hwy.

Six of us started the ride at the Martello Tower in Seaford with two more joining us at The Peace Statue in Hove. It was interesting to see the building work starting on the  i360 Tower close to the West Pier. It should be an amazing sight when finished.

It wasn’t long before we reached Worthing where we had a café stop than on to Littlehampton where we crossed over the River Arun to the Climping side to have lunch at the West Beach Café.

Our return trip was back along the same route with an ice cream stop at Lancing. It had been a very enjoyable ride and no doubt we’ll be doing it again next year.

Our touring ride next Tuesday will be to Hastings.

Cycle Touring in France

Some Cycle Seahaven cyclists on the Avenue Verte near Dieppe last September

Some Cycle Seahaven cyclists on the Avenue Verte near Dieppe last September

Fancy some cycle touring in France?

If you’re a member of the CTC then you have the opportunity to do this with Phoenix-CTC, as explained in my previous post on this subject ‘Cycle Touring in France with Phoenix-CTC’.

There will be three cycle events in France this year, starting with a channel hopper to Dieppe in early May. You can find more details of these events at www.phoenix-ctc.org.uk. If you’d like to enter any of them then you’ll need to be quick as the closing date for entries is Thursday, 15th January.

If you have any queries then don’t hesitate to contact me at clive.aberdour@phoenix-ctc.org.uk

Bon Cyclisme,

Clive

Cycle Touring in France with Phoenix-CTC

If you’re a member of the CTC then you may be interested in a new CTC Member Group called Phoenix-CTC as it runs cycle touring events not only in Great Britain but also France, in fact mostly in France. Although Cycle Seahaven is affiliated to the CTC it’s insurance policy precludes the club from organizing events abroad. That limitation does not apply to CTC Member Groups.

So, if you fancy some cycle touring in France then take a look at www.phoenix-ctc.org.uk. I’m on the committee of Phoenix-CTC as well as being a ride leader for Cycle Seahaven so if you have any queries then please don’t hesitate to contact me at enquiries@phoenix-ctc.org.uk. Alternatively, have a chat with me on a cycle ride which starts at the Martello Tower at 8.30am on Sundays.

If you’re not a member of the CTC and would like to join, then please Click Here.

Bon cyclisme,

Clive

What’s your Pace?

Start of rides to Chilley Farm Cafe

Cyclists at the start by the Martello Tower

Which speed to you like to cycle at? Do you like to cycle at a touring pace, a sportive pace or something in between? If you’re an experienced cyclist then there should be a ride to suit you most Sunday mornings starting at the Martello Tower at 8.30am.

Last Sunday morning was a good example when fifteen cyclists turned up to cycle to Chilley Farm Café on the Pevensey Levels. We divided into three groups, Touring, Intermediate and Sportive. The Tourers cycle at an average speed of about 12 mph, the Intermediates at an average of 13 to 15 mph and the Sportives at an average of 15 to 17 mph. These are average speeds and the speed on the road can vary considerably; as much as 50% slower when on a stiff climb such as Chapel Hill and 50% faster when on a flattish road with a tail wind.

There was a strong westerly wind blowing on Sunday so anyone cycling eastwards to, say, Hailsham had the assistance of a tail wind which significantly increased the pace.

The three rides took different routes. Six cyclists joined me on the Touring ride which went via Chapel Hill, Hailsham, Stunts Green and then across the Pevensey Levels to Chilley Farm. Two cyclists joined Mark Cottenham for the Intermediate ride which went via Drusillas roundabout, Hailsham, Herstmonceux and the Pevensey Levels. Both groups met at Chilley Farm as planned but there was no sign of the Sportive cyclists.

On leaving the Martello Tower in Seaford they had headed out to Lewes, Barcombe and Ringmer achieving an average of 20mph! Strong tail winds perhaps??? They then slowed down the pace and decided to go to the café at Blackstock Farm, between Hailsham and Horam rather than do the extra miles to Chilley Farm. Their average speed by the time they finished at Seaford was 17 mph over a distance of 45 miles. The other rides were about 40 miles.

Everyone enjoyed themselves even though they had to battle against a strong headwind on their way back to Seaford.

Channel Hopping to Dieppe

Cyclists near Le Treport

Cyclists near Le Treport

Last Friday six of us,  who usually cycle in the Cycle Seahaven touring rides,  hopped across the channel for a weekend of cycling in the countryside around Dieppe.

The ferry crossing from Newhaven only takes 4 hours and is quite cheap so it’s an attractive proposition to hop across to Dieppe and do some cycle ‘touring’ rides in France. It’s something I have considered in the past but Cycle Seahaven isn’t insured for organising rides abroad.

Therefore,  we decided to each make our own ferry and hotel arrangements for this weekend of cycling so that the club wasn’t involved;  hence it wasn’t shown on the Calendar of Rides.

Anyone who has cycled in France will be well aware that cycling there is a rather different experience to cycling on this side of the channel and,  arguably,  a more pleasant experience for road cyclists. Country roads tend to be quieter,  road surfaces in better condition and drivers more considerate towards cyclists.

Cyclists at the start of the Avenue Verte

Cyclists at the start of the Avenue Verte

Over the weekend we cycled just over 100 miles which included some cycling along the Avenue Verte to Neufchatel-en-Bray and along country roads to Criel-Plage,  Le Tréport an Eu. There were also many café stops!

The Avenue Verte,  which starts a few kilometres south of Dieppe and continues for about 45 kms to Forges-les-Eaux,  is part of the signposted route for cyclists between London and Paris,  also called the Avenue Verte. This 45 kms stretch of Avenue Verte to Forges is a superb path for cycling as it’s wide,  superbly surfaced and virtually flat although there are some gradual ascents and descents which are hardly noticeable. We cycled along it for about 30 kms to Neufchatel for a café stop.

Dieppe is a good place to be based for a few days of cycling as there’s plenty of accommodation as well as bars and restaurants. We stayed at the Hôtel de la Plage which has a garage to the rear of the hotel where bicycles can be stored. Also,  it’s in a good location along the boulevard on the seafront and only a short walk to the shops and the marina where there are many of the bars and restaurants. We spent two very pleasant evenings at the marina;  there’s certainly no shortage of fish restaurants!

All in all,  this has been a super weekender in Dieppe. We’ve had some good cycle rides,  the weather has been reasonably good for September and we’ve had a couple of very pleasant evenings in Dieppe;  good food and drink and great company. We must do it again next year.

Our Longest Touring Ride of the Year

Cyclists at Littlehampton

Cyclists at Littlehampton

Our touring ride on Tuesday (9 September) was a round trip of 75 miles which makes it our longest such ride this year. It was to Littlehampton and back,  a ride which has become an annual event as we’ve now cycled it on three occasions,  in 2012,  2013 and now in 2014. Most of our rides are between 20 and 40 miles so a 75 miler is exceptional;  hence we do it just once a year.

The beauty of this ride is that most of the route is virtually flat as it largely follows the coast and makes use of promenades and shared use paths such as the Undercliff Walk between Saltdean and Brighton Marina. There are some terrific sea views to take in whilst cycling.

The weather on Tuesday was ideal for cycling,  dry with plenty of sunshine and a very light easterly breeze. We started at the Martello Tower in Seaford and,  this year,  we were able to cycle along the Promenade thanks to the trial to allow cycling on it. In previous years we’ve had to use the road which can be hazardous for cyclists. Therefore we were able to cycle the 4 miles to Newhaven without having to go along a road;  much safer.

Unfortunately there still isn’t a cycle friendly route for road bikes between Newhaven and Peacehaven so we took our usual route through Newhaven via Elphick Road,  Valley Rd and then on the narrow track alongside the A259,  which is separated from the road by a kerb,  into Peacehaven. After that it was plain sailing.

There were five of us on this ride who started in Seaford and a sixth member joined us on the seafront at Hove. It wasn’t long before we reached Shoreham and the new bridge across the River Adur. Just before this bridge we went along East Street,  a pedestrianized area with several cafes. This was too good an opportunity to miss;  time for elevenses.

Suitably refreshed we went across the new bridge known as the Adur Ferry Bridge which joins the town centre with Shoreham Beach. It’s a splendid looking bridge with glass sides and is quite wide so suitable for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists. It was opened in November 2013 and replaced an old footbridge.

The remainder of the ride to Littlehampton was as flat as the proverbial pancake so the cycling was easy,  especially with a slight tailwind. On reaching our destination we crossed over the River Arun to the Climping side to have lunch at the West Beach Café.

The return trip was back along the same route albeit at a slightly reduced pace due to a slight headwind. It had been a very enjoyable cycle ride which we’ll repeat next year. Let’s hope that there’ll be a cycle friendly route between Newhaven and Peacehaven by then.