It was most certainly a ride of two halves today. Of the ten on the ride, six – Anne, Roger, David, Julian, Sue and a very welcome new rider, Delia – set off from Palace Pier under an auspicious combination of bright low sun and a high silvery moon. Mick very kindly stayed behind to meet your correspondent who arrived rather late and by multimodal transport (replacement bus service). As we put the hammer down to catch up with the peloton, we were unaware that Nick was conducting a search for his wallet and then pausing for photo opportunities, eventually catching the group at the lunch stop.
The ride proceeded enjoyably along the Undercliff Walk to Saltdean where Angela joined us. From there to Hoddern Farm where new lambs were admired, ponies approached and a buzzard and various corvids spotted, then on to Southease where the new Egrets Way was tested until the made path ran out. A short visit to the Southease parish church of St Peter (Saxon, dating from 966, notable for its unusual round tower) was followed by a lunch stop at the Abergavenny Arms, an excellent choice as not only was the food good, it was served extremely quickly.
Lunchtime conversation was split between the intellectual end of the table where I am assured that serious political debate took place, and the other end which focused on lycra louts, the undesirability of modern brewing methods and the Clarions’ penchant for food photography.
The afternoon brought a change in fortune and weather, the predicted ‘freshening’ became a howling icy blast and some of us struggled to climb the hill to Telscombe where superb views were on offer. A puncture then struck, following the rules of punctures which are that it should occur at the most inconvenient time and in the worst possible conditions. The best of Clarion fellowship was then seen with a team of volunteers (thank you Mick, David and Roger) fixing it, with other riders recording the event and offering helpful suggestions on the need for a bucket of water and giving an inventive description of how to improvise when this was not available.
Some hard work followed as we rode on into the headwind over the Tye and down to the Undercliff Walk. We considered taking the road but concluded that what Anne described as the ice bucket challenge was preferable to the likelihood of being blown into the traffic. This ride had it all – fellowship, farm animals, great views, a more challenging climb than usual and some extreme weather – possibly the most exciting Clarion ride ever! Many thanks to Anne and Mick for a great day out.