Nine of us gathered at the Palace Pier under blue skies and sunshine, but layered up with additional headgear etc against the cold North-Easterly wind. We were Julian, our leader, Angela D, Wendy, Prudence, Sikka, Leon, Joyce, Tessa and Jenny. We set off along the cycle path towards the Marina to the tune of “Oh when the Saints came marching in” being played by a young, uniformed, marching band participating in a Remembrance Day event.
The undercliff path was pleasantly sheltered from the wind, then we made our way up to cycle alongside the A259 for a short distance, until we joined the cycle route running through Peacehaven parallel to the main road. Peacehaven was remarkably devoid of trees, as Angela D pointed out later in the day, but looking between the houses, we could see glimpses of the downs to the left and sea views to the right. The newly surfaced cycle path on the western side of the A259 took us to the pedestrian traffic lights where we crossed to join Upper Valley Road. It was quite blustery on the higher ground, but we were rewarded with a lovely view down towards Seaford Bay and the white cliffs beyond. After a gentle descent we made our way along West Quay to find The Ark, which was our lunch stop.
The Ark was warm and welcoming, with a comprehensive menu that seemed to suit everyone, and apparently the locals were impressed that we had cycled all the way from Brighton. After lunch, we split into two groups, some taking route a) back along the outward route, and the others taking route b), the cross country route.
Prudence, Angela D and I followed our leader through the backstreets of Newhaven to find the Sussex Ouse Valley Way, which proved to be fantastically scenic but also incredibly windy. The path was grassy but firm in spite of the recent rain. We passed Piddinghoe Lake and walked along the stretch by Piddinghoe village, as required.
Back on the bikes and along a minor road, then rejoined a newly surfaced stretch of the Sussex Ouse Valley Way up to Southease Bridge, and a quick stop at Southease church to admire the round tower.
With the wind proving utterly relentless and the sun already rather low, we unanimously agreed to forego the longer off road option b) with “a steep undulation” in favour of Julian’s new offer of route c). This was a delightful cycle along a quiet road towards Telscombe, with amazing views of the South Downs, which made Prudence contemplate capturing it all through the medium of paint on canvas. I reached for my iphone, which had inconveniently died.
We managed the downhill off-road section across Telscombe Tye with ease, and returned through Saltdean to rejoin the undercliff path. The sun was setting, giving a beautiful sky, but causing us all to reach for our bike lights. A few hundred yards later we were plummeted into darkness and managed to dodge the pedestrians on the undercliff, who were thoughtlessly devoid of lighting. The bright lights of the pier heralded the end of this really enjoyable ride. Hopefully Sikka, Tessa, Jenny, Joyce and Leon also had a good return journey.
Many thanks to Julian for planning such a great day’s cycling, and for coming up with a very timely 3rd option, which proved so spectacular.
Five of the nine riders chose to return to Brighton on the same route as outward. Jenny went off first and fast using the A259, a road not favoured by other riders, who were, Joyce and Leon, Tessa and Sikka.
We retraced our route in the face of a gale and bright low level dazzling sunlight. Needless to say it was quite difficult at times but we all got back into Brighton refreshed by the cold wind and fulfilled by the experiences of the day.