Roger’s excellent ride took us from Brighton along the Lewes Road cycle route to Stanmer Park and Falmer, for a tour of the latest developments on the University of Brighton and Sussex campuses and a view of the new stadium for Brighton and Hove Albion. The previous day’s heavy rain did not bode well for Sunday’s ride, but luckily the weather was dry for the entire day.
Brighton’s Loving Hut Cafe on the Level was the start of the ride for myself and Fred, where we met the Clarion contingent who had just cycled from the Palace Pier. As we cycled past the Level, some of us recalled this had been the location for many Brighton political marches and demos over the years. The Radio 1 Roadshow also parked at the Level for one of its last forgettable radio broadcasts in the mid-1990s. Currently fenced-off and flooded, following heavy rain, the Level didn’t look particularly inviting as it awaited its 2013 restoration development.
The smooth, tarmac cycle path to Falmer is an ideal route for any cycling students attempting to reach early morning lectures at the universities of Sussex and Brighton. We made good progress and had reached Stanmer in less than 30 minutes. It’s a pity the smooth cycling surface we encountered on the gentle ascent from the Level didn’t continue on the road which lead into Stanmer Park. A dangerous ledge at the side of the road, requiring tarmac, caused Roger to fall off his bike and cut his lip. The bleeding stopped fairly quickly and Roger was ready to lead the ride again relatively quickly. However, we were all aware the accident could have been much worse if Roger had been cycling faster. Photos were taken of the offending ledge, with the intention of alerting cyclists of the possible danger associated with the entrance to Stanmer Park.
We observed some of the damaged caused to Stanmer Park during the October 2012 Shakedown Festival. One of Roger’s potential lunchtime discussion topics concerned the council renting out Stanmer Park for large pop concerts, following the damage caused to the grass during the Shakedown Festival. I must confess I rather enjoyed the Essential day festivals held in Stanmer Park during the mid-1990s. October does seem to be far too late in the year for one of these events to take place, though. Perhaps the council needs to work on stricter guidelines for numbers in the park and the responsibilities of promoters to clear up any post-festival mess if similar events are to take place in the future.
We stopped to look at an over-priced Stanmer Park gated housing development and cycled past a group of dog walkers before reaching the University of Sussex campus. I wasn’t familiar with the new Northfield student residential accommodation, or the intriguing umbrella cycle storage units before Sunday’s ride. Roger wondered what Basil Spence would have made of the new buildings if he were still alive today. The new buildings seemed to make a large campus even larger and you could see why cycling appears to be a popular form of transport on the campus.
Roger decided to leave out the ‘country track across the downs’ option and we headed straight to the Swan Inn instead (a very wise move!). I had my usual pint of lime and soda and bought a plate of chips with side salad. I looked rather enviously at those who had opted for the pea and mint soup option, as this looked rather more appetizing than the dish I had picked.
The temperature seemed to have dropped significantly after lunch. In an attempt to keep warm, we cycled briskly round the Falmer Pond on our way to the Brighton University campus. We had to pass Brighton & Hove Albion’s impressive new stadium before reaching the University of Brighton campus and stopped for a couple of photos outside the new permanent home for Brighton’s football club. The Falmer Academy building was particularly striking sight when we reached the University of Brighton campus. It was then downhill all the way back to Brighton along the Lewes Road cycle path.
Thanks to Roger for devising a route which re-acquainted me with an area I thought I knew quite well, but had changed significantly since my last visit more than 10 years ago. A perfect winter’s day cycle ride.
[More photos on Flickr]