The Next Ride: Sunday 25th June 2017

14 June 2017

A Crime Ride: Angmering to Littlehampton.

Intrigued? Read on…

We catch the 10.00 (10.03 from Hove) train to Angmering from Brighton, arriving 10.36.

From the station we head north over a roundabout through Angmering village. At the end of the village we turn left shortly crossing over the A27. Continuing, we turn right along a small road then left at Seldon Road which turns into a good (earth surfaced) bridleway heading uphill through woods to join the Monarch’s Way. We turn left where it is then a gentle downhill ride to a bridleway crossroads behind which is marked the site of the gallows where the last hanging in the area took place.

We leave the Monarch’s Way by continuing straight on through gates. At the next junction we take the right fork. We turn first right then left towards Arundel Station. We turn right at the station on to the A27 for a few yards to the roundabout where we take the Arundel turning, crossing the bridge where we have our lunch stop,the Moathouse cafe. Quick service with a cheap and fairly basic menu.

After lunch we weave our way under the A27 and join a straight road to Ford passing the Open Prison. We continue into Littlehampton crossing the river by the Old Swing/New Retracting bridge where there is an optional tea stop by the river before returning home from Littlehampton Station.

Terrain: gradual uphill climb on wide mainly firm good surface bridleways followed by long gentle downhills on bridleway and small country roads. After lunch, riding on flat but potentially busy roads. Approx 18 miles.

Train to Angmering from Brighton 10.00 (10.03 from Hove)

Trains from Littlehampton 15.54 (change at Ford) 16.15 (change at Hove)

For those who want to continue back to Angmering 16.12 and 16.46 (both direct).

Sikka and Tessa



The Last Ride. Anne’s Report

14 June 2017

Trains, planes, lakes & snakes.

Relieved to find Jim at Brighton station awaiting us, so I could check on our final destination & then no queue at booking office. Soon joined by Tessa, Sikka, Wendy & Prudence & off we go for a new-style new Thameslink train to 3 Bridges, where we change platforms via lifts, stairs & excellent toilet facilities for the 2 stops to Horley. 1st stop is Gatwick, so the already bit of a squash, became even more of a squash as tired international travellers [from Argentina in our carriage with us 2] attempt to enter between two bikes in a tight squeeze. Fortunately the 2 tourists assured us that Argentinian railways are no better, though improved over last couple of years & agree to move into the adjoining 1st class carriage so that we can alight at Horley.

Since Horley station has little to recommend itself for photographic purposes we agreed to postpone the customary group pic for a promised nature reserve.

We arrived at the first lakes at Earlswood Common & The Lakes Cafe & picnic stop, where we saw about a dozen swans, two baby coots & their mum on their nest about 8 feet away from us & were able to ask a dad to desert his toddler & take our photo; fortunately no toddlers were drowned & 2 pics taken. We set off again across the common & had another exciting moment when we had to pass between 2 holes of the golf course. Fortunately we were all wearing helmets & no angry shouts from distracted golfers caused tension. On through the trees & following the footpaths, we reached The Plough at the projected lunch stop time of 12.30.

Pub garden at The Plough, Earlswood CommonIt was/is a charming & quirky pub with the ceiling inside adorned with a dozen or more copper pots & pans & the garden decorated with unusual sculpture & knick-knacks. There was a little fireman, a giraffe, a bike, a witches broomstick, an ostrich, many mirrors, pigs, chickens along the top of the fencing & some flowers too!

This pub even had 3 bike stands which was just right for our 6 bikes! By now the sun was out & there was a struggle to set up the sunshades over the table. Fortunately there were few, if any, other diners as we were early & we were able to take out pick of seats, shade, & flowers. Food came fairly swiftly too & was scoffed before anyone remembered to snap it for Fred’s delectation. I made a wrong menu choice, as usual & ate far too much fish & veg, Tessa had duck confit, Wendy had tomato soup, Jim had veg curry & Sikka had lured me into the fish as she needed assurance it was free range & not farmed.

Think I dominated the conversation with praise for Yanis Varoufakis’ new book & its relationship to John Perkins fab “The Economic Hitman” & so I was the last to finish but we managed to keep to Jim’s meticulous schedule without any chivying from our leader. The church was huge with an impressively tall tower, but it was not ancient & we decided to give it a miss as we had been forewarned that a huge hill would be on the menu shortly after lunch!. Before “the hill” we had a detour for Redhill Common where trees & their roots overhung the path threateningly, seeming to cling precariously to the steep red slope.

Redhill Common

“The Hill” started gently & Prudence & Wendy managed to cycle all of it & reach its crown, but the rest of us had a breather 2/3 up & admired the views. Have to say the promised downhill afterwards seemed to go on for longer than the toils uphill. More lakes at The Moors Nature reserve, with much bird song, “haunts of coot & hern” [& crested grebe], wild flowers, peace, tranquillity, little bridges, pretty wooden gates & quiet, easy paths.

Resting planes at Redhill

After a few roads & side roads we arrived at the noisy aerodrome for our tea. Fortunately, the titchy, fragile plane making all the noise, finally took off, presumably to the skies, but I didn’t really care as long as it buzzed off! More excitement as the SKY News helicopter arrived causing some to think there May be a VIP inside, but ’twas not to be, as both London police & ambulance are based at Redhill Aerodrome. There were dozens of planes & again I wished Fred was there to enjoy them with us. Tea & staff [& toilets] were much appreciated there, but Tessa was let down by the ungingery ginger cake & since we were both hitting the indigestion pills hard I didn’t offer her any more of my medicinal crystallised ginger.

Back on the bikes & off to the NCN 21 on delightful wooded paths, twisting & turning a bit, led by Jim, so that we savoured all the best bits.

If you were hoping for snakes too, that is a Greek saying from Yanis’ book – ”snakes in the stomach” describing his anxiety before meeting Eurogroup ministers & the arch neo-liberal Chair, Schauble. Mick tells me my stomach ache was unfit stomach muscles from missing my bike rides & it disappeared soon after arriving home, so was no fault of The Plough, merely my greed.

Trains for return were fine & uncrowded, but it was a long day & we were all tired, arriving home at 6.30pm. Jim had really packed a delightful ride into our day & meticulously looked after us. Just a sad note in the evening as I looked at facebook, I saw that Linda Mabey had intended to join us but had ended up in Worthing A&E having twisted her ankle in Horley before the start. Hope she is feeling bit better now. We would have been a Magnificent Seven, but it’s a brilliant ride, well-worth repeating anytime Jim has time, though think I would certainly get lost without his leadership. Still if we keep the instructions us women should be able to take back control!

Sikka and Tessa at Three Bridges Station

Sikka & Tessa relax at Three Bridges station after a tough ride

Thanks again Jim – it was a great day.
Detail from Sikka's high-vis jacket

Sikka’s wonderfully decorated high-vis jacket


14 June 2017

13 June 2017

Dear All

Ian is away so I’m standing in as newsletter editor.

It is still possible to sign up to the Dieppe trip (31 August – 5 September) as long as you do so very soon, and are prepared to commit yourself to it.

The first night will be in or near Dieppe. Then on to Forges les Eaux for three days exploring the area. The fifth night will be en route back to Dieppe.

If you’d like to know more or to bag a place, please email Angela ASAP.

Leon has drawn our attention to an article from a Sustrans newsletter about electric bikes. He suggested we include it in the newsletter. (See below).



How I became an e-bike convert – by Ross McGill, 10 May 2017


Ten years with Sustrans and a lifetime of cycling adventures hadn’t really prepared me for this: my first ride on an e-bike.

I’ve always been sceptical and a bit of a purist when it comes to e-bikes. I have to admit I thought they were cheating and unnecessary.

After all, with a good range of gears and route planning even a hilly city like Derry, in Northern Ireland, can be navigated by bike.

Times and waistlines change, however, and as part of a recent workplace project that Sustrans is delivering in the North West of Ireland I was finally given the chance to see if I could be converted.

My first e-bike experience

The machine in question was a German made Focus Aventura (actually classified as a ‘pedelec’, a low-powered e-bike where the rider’s pedalling is assisted by a small electric motor). It’s one of four e-bikes being used to encourage Derry City & Strabane District Council and Western Health and Social Care Trust staff to try their commute and local trips by two wheels.

My first impression of the e-bike was that it didn’t look like an e-bike, not the clunky, motor scooter kind that I had in my head anyway.

Apart from a narrow rectangle shaped 400v battery on the down tube there is little indication that it runs on anything more than your own steam. And unlike some e-bikes that have incorporated the motor in the rear hub, the Aventura’s motor is cleverly housed in the front chainset.

The bike has four settings that provide increasing levels of assistance to your pedalling: Eco, tour, sport and turbo which very quickly became my favourite setting).  The bike also has an eight speed Shimano derailleur gear set that you use just like a conventional bike.

Once I selected the appropriate assistance setting and gear I was off.

Gently pedalling up Lawrence Hill at a top speed of 12mph whilst still on the saddle is a very satisfying experience.

As I glided to a stop, not even slightly out of breath, I thought wow! Now, this changes things.

Shipquay Street, Lawrence Hill, Chapel Road and Creggan Road are notoriously steep streets in the city that are usually avoided by all but the diehard cyclists with a wide range of gears. On my Focus the hill didn’t exist anymore and that was only the start of the enjoyment.

Getting a boost up hills was an obvious one but the more I cycled around town the more I realised many other, no less welcomed benefits.

At roundabouts and junctions, statistically the most risky areas for cyclists, I was given smooth, quick starts to get me through them safely. Along the quay I breezed by two club cyclists on racing bikes struggling against the headwind, the dreaded “horizontal hills” (to their credit I did need to use ‘turbo’ to overtake them).

The final benefit I experienced was just how much your distance and range can be extended. Returning back to base less than 30 mins later, I realised I had cycled around half the city at an average speed of 11 mph and never broke a sweat.

Are e-bikes the perfect solution?

Well, of course there is no such thing as a perfect solution.

Starting at around £750, for most people the cost of e-bikes is unaffordable compared to conventional bikes. The battery on the model I rode needs to be taken off and charged from a mains connection. Also, the additional weight makes e-bikes more difficult to transport (although some models feature a walk assist mode for when you are pushing the bike).

However, as costs come down and battery life and recharge times improve e-bikes could start to become more viable and attractive option.

It’s been coined the “e-mobility” revolution, with the attention tending to be on e-cars and buses, but the highest selling electric vehicles on the planet are actually e-bikes with an estimated 35 million e-bikes sold in 2016.

In many Western European countries e-bike sales have been steadily rising. This year, e-bikes are expected to out sell conventional bikes for the first time in Germany and the Netherlands.

I can also see their attraction from those returning to cycling or the elderly and less abled in society who may find it difficult to hop onto a conventional bike. Many European cities are also turning to e-cargo bikes to help move goods more efficiently in increasingly crowded urban areas.

With more and more kilometres of greenways being planned for in Derry and the North West, particularly the cross-border greenways to Buncrana, Muff and between Strabane and Lifford, e-bikes could offer a viable alternative to the car especially for journeys longer than 10km. And what a fantastic offer for the region we would have if Derry introduced the island’s first public e-bike share scheme.

So yes, you could say I’m a convert. I’ll always own and use a conventional bike for as one fellow cyclist told me “Lawrence Hill is the difference between what I wear now and elasticated trousers.”

However, for those of us who are also serious about the bicycle as a mode of transport, e-bikes aren’t cheating, they’re just a more sensible way to move about.

The Next Ride: Sunday 11 June 2017

1 June 2017

Horley Circular via Redhill 

Earlswood Common – Redhill Common – Redhill – Nutfield Marsh – Merstham – South Nutfield – Whitebushes

This is another variant on my Gatwick ride, but although originally intended to start from there, I decided that, as it’s a longish ride, the change at Three Bridges might be seen as a lesser evil than the extra 3 miles.

We start out in a north-westerly direction along the wonderful 3½ miles of Meath Green lane/Lonesome Lane, running parallel to the river Mole, but sadly out of sight of it; on the way we pass over two of its tributaries, the Salfords Stream and the Earlswood Brook.

About 7 miles of this ride is off-road, though on good surfaces. We’ll traverse Earlswood Common to reach the lunch stop, the Plough, at about 12.30. After lunch, passing (or possibly stopping briefly at) the huge St John’s Church next door (not very old, but quite striking) we’ll have a quick look at Redhill Common before emerging into more familar territory – the Moors nature reserve at Redhill. We then strike out northwards, so as to traverse Nutfield Marsh in the opposite direction to previously (from Spynes Mere nature reserve to Cormonger’s Lane).

Then comes the hill. I’m sorry, but there really is no other word for it; the southern end of Cormonger’s Lane is a whopper; we’ll have to walk it (it’s about half a mile from bottom to top). But it’s NOT MY FAULT! Incredibly, the countours on the OS map just stop in mid-air in that area, so it appears that the lane is dead flat. I’ve never seen such a thing before. (And then, once across the A25, we go all the way back down again. You’d think they’d have built a tunnel!)

Quite why this should be, we may discuss over a cup of tea at Redhill Aerodrome – or just watch the helicopters practising take-off. Then we return to Horley courtesy of the wonderful NCN21 cycle route.


Start: Horley station car park, 11:05.   Length: 20 miles.

Duration: about 6 hours, including lunch and tea stops.

Terrain: Quiet lanes and cycle paths. Only one hill (see above).

Getting there: Get the 10:14 train from Brighton to Three Bridges, and change there for Horley (about a 15 minute wait). Hovians will have to change twice (at Brighton or Burgess Hill).

Getting back: trains to Brighton from Horley at 23 and 41 minutes past the hour, journey time 45 minutes, again with a change at Three Bridges.



1 June 2017

31 May 2017

Dear All

A bit late so just a short newsletter this time. As you’ll see all our ride slots are now filled until the end of July.

Last Sunday was very frustrating. As I predicted might be the case in my cancellation message the way it turned out we could have had our ride on the Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels without any weather problems.

But I suspect that if we had gone ahead with it we would have been worried about the predicted ‘torrential downpours’ throughout the day – wondering whether, in spite of the clear sky, something of that sort was suddenly going to materialise. And the thunder and lightning did arrive eventually – though long after we would have been safely home.

We all know that weather forecasting is not an exact science when it comes to predicting precisely when storms are going to arrive but at the end of the day you have to act on the best advice available.

I’m going to be away for both of the June rides so Roger will be looking after the newsletters. So from now on please send ride details, ride reports and anything else you want in the newsletter to Roger as well as to me.  I will be preparing the newsletters in advance as much as possible so if you can send me anything before the middle of next week I will incorporate it before sending on the ‘templates’ to Roger