“Go East”, decreed Anne, so East we went … and it was loverly.
Anne, Annie, Corinne, David, Jim, John, Julian, Nick, Roger and Suzanne met at the Palace Pier on a hazy early autumn morning, just right for Clarion. Once the technology had been discussed (David’s new micro-video camera, Julian’s zoom capacities) and a bog-standard group photo taken, it was off along Madeira Drive (apologies to the cyclist on the “Doitforcharity” cycle ride who thought/hoped that our gaggle of momentarily stationary Clarion cyclists was the Finishing line) and thus onto the (… cliché alert …) sunny uplands of the cliff tops as far as Rottingdean where a vertiginous drop brought us down onto the Undercliff Path, Saltdean and Angela who was waiting to join us.
Then we were eleven.
Once we had conquered the daunting rise to Telscombe Cliff, Anne led us on a complicated but fascinating tour (aka “almost NCRN2”) of Peacehaven and finally onto what seemed like the top of the world above Piddinghoe. First set of Brownie Points to Anne for knowing the code to open the gate across the private road so we did not have to lift the bikes over.
Following a quick whizz down through Piddinghoe (Jim getting giddy by insisting on reading the inscription wound round their Millennium “pole”)
and round the back of Newhaven and once again we were in open cycling country, on our way to Seaford where all made a concerted attack on our sandwiches, scones etc sitting by (…cliché alert …) a sparkling sea. Our lunchtime was enlivened by the sight of (a) a lifeboat rescue practice and (b) Anne taking an energetic dip. Fortunately (a) did not attempt to rescue (b).
Jim opted to leave us at Seaford, thus missing the highlight of the ride – a first for many of us, and a loved, familiar spot for others – described rather boringly as “The South Hill Barn”. The area is, in fact, a charming nature reserve on the top of Seaford Head. Unfortunately Angela did not feel like making the last climb of the day up to the reserve, but Brownie Points to David for going down the mighty hill to check that she was OK, and then ( … mixed metaphor alert …), to burnish his halo even brighter, he looked after the bikes while the rest of the group went to see the (…cliché alert …) stunning view of the Cuckmere Valley and the Seven Sisters.
Sun drenched and tired we all met up with Angela again at the bottom of the steep hill, only to realise that Roger had left his helmet at the top. Not sensible! So it was then his turn to do an extra climb back up. Fortunately two kind people had put the helmet on top of a post where it was eventually found. Brownie points for them.
The ride back to Seaford Station was gloriously downhill. There was a very keen desire on the part of many to stop for tea. However, as a train was standing in the station ready to go,the unanimous decision was that an early cup of tea at home would do instead. In addition to our nine bikes (Brownie Points to Angela’s son, Jack, for going to Seaford to collect her in the car) there must have been another nine non-Clarion bikes spread over the four carriages. Brownie points to Southern for accommodating all of us with a smile.
Many thanks to Anne for an excellent, new, ride.