Present on the ride were leader Leon, Joyce, Wendy David Sikka and Richard. A well prepared and clearly experienced Leon led us for about an hour and a half from Hassocks station over gently undulating roads in brilliant sunshine via pretty Sussex villages like Albourne and Hurstpierpoint to our lunch stop at Woods Mill Nature Reserve.
A leisurely picnic in the shade of ancient oaks was followed by a short stroll to the nearby mill lake, sadly now lacking water movement and covered in algae but still a lovely tranquil spot with damsel flies in profusion. It was time to follow the butterflies, including slightly elusive but gorgeous Red Admirals, so some of lost ourselves in that blissful and innocent activity for a while.
Refreshed, we set off again towards Bramber. Sikka and David left us for a while to investigate a possible future ride (watch the Clarion site). Cars, and sweating young men hunched over the handlebars, shot past in both directions from time to time. The author wishes them no ill but fancies we enjoyed our ride somewhat more.
Outside Bramber Castle entrance we regrouped and availed ourselves of David’s knowledge of a newer and alternative route to the Adur on a pristine cycleway, flanked by fields in which the grass grew tall. Soon the wide river came into view, which we crossed, and passing through the ancient Salts parishes of yesteryear found ourselves on the eastern bank on the old railway track. Back then through the northern suburbs of Shoreham, where David took his leave, and beneath the railway bridge at Southwick to Shoreham Lock.
Glancing idly down at the collection of Sunday boaters waiting for the lock gates – all amateur maritime life is to be observed there – the party unanimously decided that a swim was irresistible. The water temperature was perfect for cooling off after twenty miles or so of midsummer cycling and a certain stoniness of beach did not discourage us. The author learned that Lycra cycling shorts and tiny pebbles are unfortunately inseparable, and that this does not increase saddle comfort. No matter. Suitably cooled we headed off to take tea in a suburban garden in Hove. Apple and blackberry cake, muesli bars and fresh strawberries were thoughtfully provided by Wendy and Sikka.
The author hopes that our predecessors of 1893 are looking down on us benevolently and feeling that our summer idylls are not so impossibly different from theirs. Thanks again to Leon, without whom…
EXTRA! a video from Leon: https://flic.kr/p/WpyzXh