15 April 2018: Hove to Shoreham
On their last ride, Sikka and Tessa introduced a revolutionary idea – having the lunch at the end of the ride rather than the middle. Not content to rest on their laurels, for this ride they pushed the boundaries even further by having the coffee stop at the beginning – at Tessa’s house, in fact, where Angela D, Marilyn, Prudence, Sikka, Wendy and I were served our chosen tipples by our attentive hostess. This was actually the first of two coffee “stops”, the second one being at Saddlescombe Farm, where we enjoyed either second breakfast or (in Wendy’s case) what looked more like first lunch; for David, a fruity ice lolly; for the rest, various teas, coffees, scones and cakes. Later we had our proper lunch stop, of course, at the Kings Head at Upper Beeding, where Wendy had her second lunch and everyone else their first. Unfortunately, plans for a proposed third lunch, or third coffee stop, or afternoon tea, at Shoreham Airport were shelved in order for us to fully appreciate the new extension of the Downs Link path right down to the Ropetackle centre in Shoreham.
In between the eating and drinking, there was actually a bit of bike riding. We cycled through Hove Park to the Engineerium (scandalously, still closed), then, skirting Hangleton, we arrived at the footbridge over the A27 where, after a few minutes’ rest, David caught up with us, having cycled from Shoreham. At the top of the path we joined the road, then down to Saddlescombe for the aforementioned breakfast/coffee/lunch, then whizzing on down to Poynings (this ride did appear to have more “downs” than “ups”, somehow) and Fulking, stopping to admire the two antique drinking fountains on the way.
Along the road towards Edburton, with the glorious backdrop of the Downs to our left, the ride leaders came across a horse in a field struggling to get up. Prudence knocked a couple of doors and found the owner, who explained that the horse was 27 years old and suffered from arthritis, but thanked her for telling him. Further along, we came across another horse with its head poking out through a seemingly purpose-built dip in the wall. Unfortunately we had nothing to feed it with. Behind, a tiny pony stood in the yard.
After a scary mile or so of the A2037 round Windmill Hill, we came at last to Upper Beeding and the aforementioned lunch stop. Obligingly, the forecast rain arrived just as we got inside; disappointingly, however, it refused to yield on our emergence an hour later. But it did eventually let up and we saw the sun again, whilst riding southwards along the Downs Link.
Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for a very enjoyable ride and for arranging the weather so neatly.