There were still patches of blue sky when I arrived at Shoreham station for a 10 o’clock departure, and I wasn’t really expecting anyone to be there, with a start from Portslade always being the best option. At 10.45h, after the customary group photo, I set off for the start of the Dyke Railway Trail where I thought there might be a couple of more riders to join me.
Undeterred, I started the leisurely climb to the top of Devil’s Dyke and shared an animated discussion with some other visitors about the breath-taking views from the summit.
Cruising back down the hill and passing the Dyke Golf Course Clubhouse, I contemplated whether I should snap up this special offer for spending my winter months hacking towards some sodden greens.
It was now downhill all the way to Saddlescombe Farm and a spot of lunch at the Hikers’ Rest.
After some surprisingly tasty organic coffee, I was able to direct some fellow cyclists who had come over the Downs from Amberley, back to Brighton station, as one of their group had got his bike stuck in top gear.
As it had just started to rain quite heavily, I opted for a hearty lunch of an organic lamb pasty, just when another group headed off to conquer the Downs Way in the mud.
After an hour the rain temporarily ceased and I headed off through Poynings and Fulking, to meet up with the second group of cyclists who had been washed off the Downs and we joined up to cycle back to Steyning together.
I was back in Shoreham by 3pm for a cup of the best Honduran coffee on the south coast at Tom Foolery, and in plenty of time to get to Ropetackle for a Glynebourne-style picnic and production of Tosca.
Somehow along the way I had missed Julian, who I can only think had started from the Railway Trail just before I arrived, and got to the Hiker’s Rest while I was still sight-seeing on The Dyke, and then decided not to stop for lunch.