16 years or so ago- I got taken out by a cyclist for my first "Real" bike ride. Like a fool I had let it be known to a friend that I had a bike and intended using it to get fit with. He had a bike and rode a bit so- "Why not come out with me tomorrow and I'll take you up a couple of hills" That first ride took in 1500 ft of steep climbing- or so it seemed at the time and about 25 miles. All that on an old bike- with very high gearing and only about 10 gears in any case. Don't think I sat down for a week afterwards, but my legs were aching enough to say that I didn't want to get out of an armchair for about a fortnight. I may have ached all over and been shattered but the following week I was out for another dose of the punishment. Now- Many moons later- I have just got back from the same ride, and although I do not feel as tired- Have still got the same buzz and the same wish for lower gears, that I had on my first "Real" ride on a bike.
Route takes in a couple of local landmarks so Pics are attached to show some of the reasons for liking this ride. This is a road ride so is fairly easy- providing you have low enough gearing. Starts of with a ride to the top of the South Downs- Only 800ft high and this the easy climb over 3 miles Except it is a double climb- First is 600ft, climb, about 10%, for just on a mile- then a bit of downhill followed by some flattish road- Then the second climb of 300ft with the nasty 15% just at the end of it. Drop down to the coast then and you realise how steep the hill was when you touch 50mph down the 16% gradient. You go down to Birling Gap and this is a bit of the coast that is eroding very fast. The Scene of the cliffs is the 7 Sisters and the houses on Top of the cliff used to have 200ft rear gardens. Then you climb up to the Top of Beachy Head. Another big cliff onto the sea and famed for its lighthouse and the Suicide jumpers. This is a nasty long drag that just climbs at around 5% for a couple of miles- then down into Eastbourne. Best thing about Eastbourne is Fuscardi's- My Coffee stop and yet another reason to keep riding if they can serve cheescake like this- and Doughnuts and the coffee is superb.
Then it was onto part of the ride I did not do 16 years ago to Sovereign Harbour. The harbour was not there 16 years ago and is now a housing development around a Marina. Mainly second homes for the City dwellers and if you fancy a 2 bedroom house with no garden for around $500,000, then this is the place for you. Then onto a bit of a local landmark that has been around a bit longer and is need of some renovation to make it habitable. Pevensey castle dates from Roman Times, about 200AD, but this is the place where the Normans invaded Britain in 1066, and they built their own castle on the site of the Roman one. The view through the arch is Pevensey village and quite a few old buildings within the village. From here, we were on our way home but a good interesting ride that is almost as tough today as it was 16 years ago. Took the road bike, and the hills are just as steep, just as long and just as tiring as it used to be.
Did this ride as a memorial to my friend who got me into cycling- Mike Jones. Same age as me- superb rider that Liked his riding as much as I did. Unfortunately he died 5 years ago of a Congenital heart problem, but his memory and his rides are now teaching a new generation of riders to appreciate what hills are all about.