Nine riders met at The Level: Fiona, Fred, Jenny, John, Julian, Roger, Sikka Sue, Simon, and Suzanne. After negotiating the Vogue Gyratory we used the new improved cycle path along the A27 to get to our first detour, a quick buzz around always-beautiful Stanmer Park. Then through the underpass to the other side of the main road, and up the many twists and turns of the Meccano-like ramp over the railway at Falmer station. It’s amazing how much engineering and metalwork is required to provide access for wheel-users in a confined space – relative to building stairs that is.
The next detour was a pootle round the perimeter of the Amex ‘Community’ Stadium. What a soul-less, horrible building it is, with its acres of tarmac and wire-netting fences, and so out of place (other opinions are also available). Out and across the traffic lights we found the as-yet unmarked entrance to the lovely new shared-use path that runs alongside the B2123 from Falmer to Woodingdean. At last walkers, cyclists, and horse-riders are spared having to risk their lives in the fast-moving traffic, as what was once a lumpy permissive bridleway along the field edge has been upgraded, widened, and surfaced with fine crushed and rolled limestone that is suitable for all bikes, not just knobbly-tyred ones. Sadly, in some places the surface has already been a bit eroded by rain water but it was chosen to be less intrusive in the landscape than tarmac.
The path is separated from the road by a generous embankment, and there’s a grass strip alongside that hopefully will be preferred by horse-riders. The route provided an unaccustomed experience for the Clarions as the hill rose up and up, but the views from the top are spectacular. Julian reported that he saw a very low-flying buzzard, and Fred saw a kestrel. We passed Bullock Hill, the best-kept secret mentioned earlier. The descent into Woodingdean was long and exhilarating – my computer reported a maximum speed of 37.6 mph, in what could well have been a 30 mph zone, oops.
Lunch at The White Horse in Rottingdean was a slightly disorganised affair, with the food taking its time arriving, but it was worth the wait. Then we said goodbye to John and headed back into town along the pancake-flat and more Clarion-friendly undercliff. Six of us detoured back to The Level again to try the new Velo Café – good coffee, excellent cake, a reasonably priced menu of bike repairs on offer, and a flashing, vibrating gadget to alert customers to collect their order. We liked it. My route home along the seafront was enhanced by a millpond sea and a truly spectacular sunset.
Thanks Roger for organising this ride and introducing the new circuit – the link between Falmer, the South Downs Way, and the coast has been a long time coming and we enjoyed trying it out.
More photos on Flickr.