Thirteen riders met at Aldrington on Mothers’ Day just as the sun was slipping behind a large grey cloud. They were Angela, Ann, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue (our leader), Suzanne and Tessa. Would we be lucky with the weather?
We set off through suburban Hove passing the impressive West Blatchington Mill. Then came the first of the various choices that Sue would be offering us during the day. Should we take the off-road track with its risk of mud, or stick to the slightly longer road? Some wanted one and some the other so we split into two groups, and met up again at the footbridge over the A27.
From here it was (fairly gently) uphill all the way to a spectacular view of the English Channel and our next choice: coffee inside at the Devil’s Dyke, or outside at the Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe with its home-made cakes? A quick glance at the sky and the vote was unanimous – the home-made cakes had it.
Thoroughly refreshed we resumed our journey, plunging down to Poynings, where Sue’s next question was posed: was Helen ahead of us or had we left her at the café? Blank looks all round, so Jim volunteered to ride back and look for her. Needless to say we were all soon reunited and Jim was pleased to learn that Helen had not been abducted by the hairy, vintage motorcyclists he came across during his search: she had been ahead of us all the time.
Onwards to the King’s Head at Upper Beeding for lunch. As it was Mothers’ Day all the inside seating had been reserved for those accompanied by their bona fide mothers. As a result we had to sit outside, as Sue had forewarned us. Well, there is outside and outside. We were soon seated around a magnificent table in an open-sided barn overlooking the garden and staring intently at the hi-tec gizmos we had each been given when ordering food. Whenever anyone’s meal was ready to collect, their gizmo turned into a festival of flashing LEDs. The meals were pretty good too.
The weather was still being kind as we started the final leg of the journey along the Downs Link to Shoreham and the next decision point: train or cycle back to Brighton? Four of our number peeled off to catch a train and the rest hurried on to Shoreham Lock for the final choice of the day: a cup of tea at Carats Café or straight home? Two more peeled off for tea and the rest pushed on along the coast.
Thanks for a great ride Sue – and for all those choices!
[More photos on Flickr]
Cycling the Pioneer Run
Roger’s report mentions seeing vintage motorcycles (or was it vintage motorcyclists? Probably both …) on Sunday’s ride. They were taking part in the annual Pioneer Run from Epsom Downs to Brighton – and I wasn’t on the Clarion ride because I was cycling the route in among the motorcycles with some friends. It was great fun! I had to get a very early train from Brighton to meet my friends at East Croydon, then we rode from there to Tattenham Corner, Epsom, and stopped for a while to admire the organised chaos of hundreds of very unusual motorbikes getting ready to depart.
Despite forecasts of rain at some point we had a dry ride under largely blue skies, and the atmosphere was very merry with motorcyclists and passengers (in some very uncomfortable-looking sidecars including a wicker one) waving and hallooing to us as they passed us – we were very careful to keep out of their way as their brakes are often not that brilliant, in fact we saw one guy stopping by simply putting his feet down! Several of our number abandoned their bikes at one point to help a poor chap push his stalled three-wheeled vintage number up the hill at Handcross.
No closed roads for this run, unlike the version for the vintage cars, but we had an excellent 58-mile ride with one coffee/snack stop at Pease Pottage. We were on the main roads a lot of the time, but the presence of the old motorbikes made the traffic behave very well all day and we sailed down the A23 on the cycle path. We got to Madeira Drive at about 2 pm, after most of the motorcycles had departed, so we could find some room at the Madeira Café to enjoy tea and chips – a grand day out!