Cycle Helmets

Yes, they look daft. But when you fall on your head (like me this afternoon), it means you get up and walk away. Particularly if the speedo was clocking 40mph at the time.

Please wear a helmet cycling.


Chanctonbury Ring

Yesterday I cycled out to Devils Dyke, and along the South Downs Way towards Chanctonbury Ring. The south downs way is remarkably hilly. I was quite pooped by the time I got there. So I went back down through Steyning and on to Henfield over part of the downs link path. From there, it was a small matter of going back to Poynings and along the Saddlescombe road to Brighton.

In total, it took around 4 hours. I would have been slightly quicker if my chain hadn’t snapped in the last 15 minutes of the ride and I had to walk back. Naturally, the first thing that I did this morning was go and purchase a spare link…


Broken Bikes

I’ve been going through yet another round of enforced bike maintenance.

  • On Friday morning, my Brompton had a flat when I was leaving for work. Luckily, I had a spare inner tube, and could switch them quickly.
  • Over the weekend, I managed to snap my front derailleur on the mountain bike. Thankfully, it just locked my chainset into a specific gear, meaning I could finish the ride.
  • Which ended with a puncture out near Lewes. Again, I always carry a spare inner tube, so it’s not catastrophic (although it was cold enough to make the change difficult because my hands were so cold).
  • Yesterday morning, I took the mountain bike to the lovely people at Freedom Bikes, who fitted a new derailleur for me.
  • And this morning I’m just leaving for work when I find that the Brompton has a second flat in the same place. This time, I managed to find the stone stuck in the tyre. More worryingly, I also noticed a rust spot that’s gone through the frame in one place. It’s only a pinhole, but still…

I do love cycling, but I hate having to maintain the damned things. Like computers, I just have a hate/hate relationship with hardware.


This mornings cycling

I went out a bit late this morning—9am. If I’d gotten out earlier, I could have cycled for longer without it eating into the remainder of the day’s activities. So I took a short ride, similiar to last weeks (which I failed to mentioned, but which was utterly freezing thanks to the fog).

First I went up to Devils Dyke. This was the only cold bit, thanks to the brutal wind along the top of the ridge. Because I hadn’t been going for long, I was still warming up as well. My arms were exposed and turned bright red in a matter of minutes. At the Dyke, I saw some parents taking their small girl for a walk, in the most fabulous pink wellies. Kids clothes are always so much more interesting.

I turned back from the Dyke and headed left down the path towards Saddlescombe farm. This was surprisingly dry. There was a bit of mud, but nothing serious. It started getting a bit slippery as I got towards the road about, but that was it.

Crossing the road into Saddlescombe farm, I went through the farm, to the left and up the path under the trees. Full of branches and rocks, as well as being quite steep, this was a bit of a sod to get up. I came off twice. Finally getting through that, I went into the open fields and the steep climb up Newtimber hill. That was good, with plenty of work required, but pretty good traction on the grass. No wheel spinning.

At the top of the hill, I turned right to start the journey back home. I went through the gate down a small path which didn’t look as overgrown as the last time I went through there. This was a shortcut in order to cut out about 500 yards of cycling. Silly mistake. I got half way through the path and it was nearly completely enclosed in brambles. Thankfully, somebody else had obviously realised the same thing at the same point and there was a large escape hatch in the hedge where the previous person (probably a pony actually) had cut through back to the main path.

From there it was a regular farm road all the way down sweet hill to waterhall playing fields. Unfortunately, this is where I really started to encounter the mud. I had been this way once before in a thunder storm with some friends and the chalk had really stuck to my wheels. But this time, the mud was like super glue. It didn’t just stick to my wheels, it stuck to itself very well. So that every few metres a large clump of mud would gather on the front wheel and wedge itself into the arches, bringing me to a complete halt. Very frustrating. Especially when it happens in front of some farmer unloading hay for the cows.

The end result was that I had to repeatedly cycle for a few yards, and then shake the bike to clear the mud off for several hundred metres. Grrr. As I turned into the final downhill stretch of Sweet hill, I hit tarmac and managed to shake off some of the mud. But even when I got home about 10 minutes later, I still had more mud on my bike than I’d managed before. So I had a lovely afternoon cleaning mud off the bike. What a bonus…


Cycling Today

For today’s ride, I went down Mill road, under the bridge to Waterhall playing fields and turned right to go along the cycle lane by the A23. I followed along until I came to the bridge to cross over into Pyecombe. From there, I went down the hill to the road to Clayton. After a mile or so, I turned right into Underhill Lane. A few miles of twisty, narrow road ensued (although a van politely decided to stop and let me past!). Eventually, I came out at the road up to ditchling beacon.

Yesterday, whilst out walking, a friend had commented that cycling up to Ditchling Beacon was best done only once a year. And I realised that it had been over a year since I’d last attempted it. So off I went. ANd to my surprise, it was nowhere near as difficult as I expected it to be. I’ve obviously been cycling a lot more in recent times. To my mind, Bear Road in Brighton is far, far harder. I think I had this irrational fear of Ditchling Beacon. But now, that’s all over.

At the top, after a few minutes rest admiring the view, I set off home again. I went along the top of the downs towards Pyecombe, following the path from the beacon. At the third field, I turned left and downhill via the extremely stony path that leads towards the Chattri. Eventually I arrived at the Chattri after watching some cows chewing the cud on the way. Seeing as today is Remembrance Sunday, there were fresh wreaths from a variety of groups. I took a snap as it looked rather lovely (even though the Sun had long since passed over).

The Chattri with wreaths

By now it was getting quite chilly with the wind and lack of Sun, so heading home was the prudent thing to do. Thankfully, it’s only 20 minutes or so to get home from the Chattri. A quick ride down to the A27 interchange, along Braypool Lane, over the A23, along Waterhall road and finally back up Mill Hill, where I’d started from.


Wet & Windy Cycling

Today’s cycling was very wet and very windy. I set off around 3pm (after finally fixing the puncture from last week) and headed for Devils Dyke, along the cycling path. It was pretty clear which way the wind was blowing by the fact that I had to lean my bike to the left in order to move forwards in a straight line. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only cyclist around. I cycled all the way to the dyke with another chap. He set off in a different direction when we got there though.

At the Dyke, I turned left and headed for Truleigh Hill. It’s a very up and down route, through lots of grass and chalk paths. The grass was completely sodden—it was like riding through a pond. And the chalk was immensely slippery because it was so wet. Add to this, the wind trying to push you off the path and down the escarpment, it was a challenging ride. Normally, I’d race down there in top gear, but I didn’t even get close this time. Everything had to be done slowly and carefully. I’m immensely grateful to the lovely lady hiker who held open a gate for me so I didn’t have to stop.

Finally, I got to Truleigh Hill and the YHA there. No time to stop though, I had to keep going in order to try and get back before the light went. The road turned into tarmac at this point, so I could go up a few gears. Plus it was all downhill to Shoreham. The main problem was still the driving rain, which was beginning to feel like bullets at this point. The wind was still troublesome. I turned a corner at some speed and almost stopped dead because of it. I met a couple of cars going that way. I have no idea why they would want to do such a thing.

From Shoreham, I cycled along the sea front road all the way back to Brighton. This was really quite pleasant after being so exposed on the top of the downs, despite there still being a strong breeze. Eventually I got to Hove, turned up First Avenue and carried on. Eventually, a sharp right up the Droveway (I had no idea there was a tennis club up there!) led me on to Dyke road and home once more to freshly cooked food. I’m exhausted, but I feel great.


Today’s Cycling

Today’s ride: Down mill hill, into waterhall playing fields. Turn right and go up sweet hill, following the path all the way to newtimber hill. This was exceedingly slippery with all the rain and mud, I had a hard time keeping my back wheel from spinning out under me. At newtimber turn left and descend rapidly towards the farm at saddlescombe. Sadly, it was pretty dark by this point, so I couldn’t go too fast as the light was poor. Cross over the road and head up towards Devils Dyke. I nearly ran over a belligerent sheep at this point, the thing was snoozing in the middle of the path.

Just before I got to Devils Dyke, I had a puncture on my back wheel. Thankfully, it was close enough to walk to the pub and use the outside lights to fit the spare inner tube. Only after I had finally wrestled the tyre back on after changing the tube did I realise that I hadn’t checked inside the wheel for pointy bits. Nah, it’ll be alright. It’s only 15 minutes back to Brighton.

Duly, just before I get to the outskirts, I get a second puncture. That’ll teach me to be sloppy. So I walked the rest of the way. The rain was starting by now, but it was light and not too cold, so not a problem.

The best bit of the ride? Being faced with baked potatoes upon my return. Yum!



I am greatly amused by the fuel protests (or lack thereof) that are supposed to be taking place today. Every morning as I cycle in to work, I look at all the fools in their tin-boxes-on-wheels and wonder why they are so addicted to their ugly, smelly devices.

I certainly acknowledge the utility of owning and using a vehicle (as I do). But I am continuously astonished by the complete and utter lack of thought that goes into their use. If you’re only driving into work, why not take a bus instead? Or cycle and get fit at the same time.

By curious coincidence, I’ve just been listening to midweek, which started off with John Grimshaw, mastermind of SUSTRANS. They’ve just opened their 10,000th mile of the national cycle network. I can’t recommend that enough. Great idea.


Bad Bike Luck

My poor bikes. Firstly, riding into work one day a few weeks ago, I managed to snap the pedal off of my brompton. I have no idea how. Unfortunately, it was the folding pedal, at £32 a pop. And the part had to be ordered. So I started using my mountain bike instead.

This worked fine, until I took my mountiain bike home to my mothers for Easter. Whilst I was there, I managed to snap the derailleur hanger off, again I have no idea how. Unfortunately, this left the bike in a state where it couldn’t even be wheeled along. Thankfully, it was close to the house so it could be carried.

The bike’s still under warranty, so I was going to send it back to Halfords to get fixed. Except that they’re busy. And when I call back they’re still busy. And then they have to order the part first. Net result is that I have no idea when my mountain bike will be working again. They’d just better fix it before the warranty runs out. 😦

But to really top things off, my brompton broke again. This was my fault. When the pedal sheared off, I also managed to break the front mudguard. So when I got the pedal repaired, I took off the front mudguard to look at mending it myself. And I must have put the front wheel nut back on badly because when I looked at the bike on Friday morning, it was missing. And it’s not terribly safe to ride around with wheel nuts. I managed to talk to the very lovely Andy at Freedom Bikes and he gave me another wheel nut to try. So, on the mend we go. Thankfully, the mudguard is all mended now so I’ll have a stab at putting everything back together this morning.

I do love my bikes, but they’re such a pain when they go wrong.



Last night on my way home, I managed to cycle into a pedestrian who walked out in front of me. Thankfully, neither of us were hurt that much; just a little dazed. Unfortunately, this morning I found that my hip is bruised on the bone from falling off the bike. That means this evening’s walk is probably off. Whilst I can walk, I can’t walk fast or long distance.

Still, at least I didn’t manage to injure myself more seriously!