A Perfect Touring Ride

Cyclists leaving the Arlington Tea Gardens

Cyclists leaving the Arlington Tea Gardens

The weather last Sunday was ideal for cycling;  it was sunny and warm with virtually no wind. Eight of us met at the Martello Tower in Seaford of which two sped off to do a sportive type of ride and the rest of us embarked on a more leisurely touring ride to the Arlington Tea Gardens,  one of our most frequented places for a refreshment stop.

They’re quite close to Seaford,  about 8 miles,  so we usually add a loop to extend the round trip to about 20 to 30 miles. On this particular morning we extended it to 30 miles by going via Arlington,  Chalvington,  Golden Cross,  Muddles Green and Upper Dicker before arriving back in Arlington at the ‘Tea Gardens’.

It was a super route as it was mostly flattish and went through some delightful country lanes. The only significant climb was Chapel Hill between Litlington and Wilmington so,  with no head wind to contend with,  we arrived at the refreshment stop a bit earlier than anticipated;  we’d obviously achieved a slightly faster average speed than our usual 12 mph without really trying.

The Arlington Tea Gardens are popular with cyclists and invariably we meet other cyclists there. (It’s in a good location as it’s on a National Cycle Route and the Avenue Verte,  the cycle route between London and Paris). That was certainly the case on Sunday which was hardly surprising as there were lots of people cycling along the country lanes that morning. There’s no doubt that cycling as a leisure activity is becoming very popular,  especially at weekends. Let’s hope it continues that way.

All in all,  this was a perfect touring ride given the superb weather,  a flattish yet picturesque route and a very pleasant refreshment stop.

There’ll be another touring ride next Sunday,  starting at the Martello Tower in Seaford at 8.30 am. Details are on the Rides Calendar.


Touring up Chapel Hill

Cyclists in Hampden Park

Cyclists in Hampden Park

Most Sunday mornings,  weather permitting,  some of the more experienced Cycle Seahaven cyclists meet at the Martello Tower on Seaford Promenade at 8.30 am to embark on a ride of which there may be a choice of up to three. There is usually a ride for the tourers,  ie those who prefer to cycle at an average of 12 mph,  sometimes there is also a ride for the intermediate cyclists,  ie those who prefer the slightly faster pace of 13 to 15 mph and occasionally there is a ride for the sportives who cycle at an average of 15 to 17 mph.

Last Sunday twelve cyclists turned up at the Martello Tower of which eight opted for the ‘tourers’ ride and the others for the ‘intermediate’ ride to Chilley Farm Café on the Pevensey Levels. The touring ride was to Hampden Park in Eastbourne,  a round trip of 37 miles and fairly easy going as the route was mostly fairly flat except for Chapel Hill.

Whenever we head inland from Seaford we invariably cycle through Litlington to Wilmington which involves the reasonably significant climb up Chapel Hill between these two villages. However,  the view at the top is stunning so we always take a breather and regroup there. An alternative to climbing up this hill is to cycle along the flatter but rather busy Alfriston Road to the Drusillas roundabout but we feel that the Chapel Hill route is safer and it’s certainly quieter. Also,  it makes one feel good,  even invigorated,  to cycle up at least one real hill on a ride;  as some wag said on Sunday “It’s only a hill. You soon get over it”!

After the hill,  our ride to Hampden Park was easy going. There was no wind and the route was quite flat,  especially the Cuckoo Trail from Hailsham to Hampden Park;  there are some mild undulations after Polegate.

The Lakeside Tea Chalet in Hampden Park is ideal as a cyclists’ café stop. There’s a large terrace outside with plenty of picnic tables and parasols,  prices are reasonable and,  just across the road,  there are bicycle stands to which bikes can be secured.

Our return route was simply a reversal of the route from Seaford to Hampden Park. We had to tackle Chapel Hill again but the climb from Wilmington is tame. Nevertheless we still had a rest at the top,  admired the view and shouted encouraging comments to other cyclists climbing the hill from the Litlington side.

Our touring ride next Sunday will almost certainly include Chapel Hill so if you fancy a bit of a challenge then come along to the Martello Tower at 8.30 am. Details are on the Rides Calendar.

Happy cycling,


New Café Stop

Cyclists at the Waldron Stores Cafe

Cyclists at the Waldron Stores Cafe

In my previous post,  Touring Rides Aplenty,  I explained that our touring rides always include a café stop. Some of the cafes have been visited by us many times so we usually vary the routes to and from them to give variety to our rides. Occasionally we find a café that we haven’t previously visited as was the case this Tuesday.

I had spotted this café when planning a route using Google Maps/Streetview;  I plot all our touring routes on Google Maps. It’s in Waldron,  a village we don’t usually cycle through and clearly we’ve been missing out on a fine café. It’s the Waldron Stores Café which is next to the Star Inn.

Our ride was a round trip of about 40 miles and must rank as one of our most picturesque routes. That said,  all our rides use quiet country roads as much as possible so they are always a delight to cycle along. Six cyclists were on our ride to Waldron which passed through Littlington,  Wilmington,  Arlington,  Berwick,  Chalvington,  Golden Cross and Chiddingly before gradually climbing to Waldron.

After a superb café stop at the Waldron Stores we returned to Seaford on a slightly different route via Lions Green,  Muddles Green and Ripe. It’s a route we’ll certainly use in the future but,  before then,  the Tour of Britain will be going through Waldron although I doubt the cyclists will have time to stop at the café,  not even Wiggo!

Sunday Morning Ride to the Velo Café – 12 January 2014

It was a beautiful Winter’s morning – dry, a slight chill in the air and a gentle breeze blowing; good cycling weather as long as you’re wearing the right clothes for it. Six of us cycled to the Velo Café in Brighton, only about 4 weeks after our first visit to this splendid cyclists’ café.

The ride from the Martello Tower in Seaford is a round trip of 30 miles and includes the undercliff path between Saltdean and Brighton Marina, sea on one side and a chalk cliff on the other. This part of the ride is quite invigorating especially when, as it was this morning, the waves are splashing against the sea wall and the fresh smell of sea air wafts in on the onshore wind.

The ride to the Velo Café takes about 1¼ to 1½ hours at touring pace so, with a 30 to 40 minute stop at the café, the round trip takes about 3½ hours so is ideal for a Sunday morning bike ride.Cyclists and bikes hanging around at the Velo Cafe

Getting through Newhaven is much better these days as we use a route identified by Andy Lock which makes use of Valley Rd between the C7 and A259. In fact, Andy was on our ride this morning.

The Velo Café is briefly described in my previous post, Touring Ride to the Velo Café. I should add that the service is very good and a major advantage of this café is that the walls are made up of large windows, presumably bi-fold doors, so you can keep an eye on your bike whilst you’re inside. You can even hang your bike up as several of our cyclists did this morning, see picture.

I’m sure we’ll be going back there during February so, if you haven’t been to the Velo Café yet, why not join us!

Happy cycling