After the torrential rain and gale force winds of our first day at Newhaven (see https://anerleybc.org/stormy-south-downs-and-sussex-coast/) the next day was blue sky and sunshine. Our advance planning had been to cycle to Seaford, head inland to see the Long Man of Wilmington, then return to the coast and cycle on to Eastbourne via Beachy Head. The return circuit was to be via Polegate. Although we had done part of this on the previous day’s wet weather hike to Alfriston, the bike route was different from that of the hike. Plus we did want to see the famous, Long Man of Wilmington!
So this time we left our hotel at Newhaven and cycled along the top quality, off-road tarmac cycle path (NCR 2), to Seaford which parallels the main A259.
The cycle route took us into Seaford and along the seafront, from where we could look back to see Newhaven in the distance.
NCR 2 continued along the coast but we turned off, heading out through the town centre to take the road which climbed up to Alfriston. This South Downs climb is described thus “Not well known, the High and Over viewpoint is an absolute delight to those who come across it.” From this high point there is a 360 degree view over the best of the Sussex countryside, and looking back towards the coast, the most famous view in the distance – Cuckmere Haven.
A couple of days previously I had got a tough bramble shoot caught in my front wheel. It had bent the mudguard stay causing the mudguard to rub on the tyre. I took the opportunity at the viewpoint stop, to once again try to stop this annoying bit of friction. If anything I made it worse so that as we came into the outskirts of Alfriston I decided to stop at the first convenient place we came across, to do a proper fix it job.
So tool kit out to loosen off the mudguard attachments, bend and adjust as necessary, and this finally resolved the annoying problem.
Our second mechanical issue was a few miles after Alfriston, when Julie had gear change problems. This resulted in her having to get off and push the bike to the top of a steep incline. It was found to be due to a broken rear derailleur cable. This results in the chain being stuck on the smallest rear cassette cog = highest gear. The bike was rideable, but a real problem when climbing hills!
Mr Google showed that we were about 4 miles from two bike shops – one back at Seaford or in the other direction at Polegate. We knew how hilly the ride would be if we went back to Seaford so headed for Polegate. This took us onto a new, purpose built cycle path alongside the main east/west A27 and past the turn off to Wilmington, but due to the Julie’s gear problem we never did get to see the Long Man.
However Julie remembered Vince showing her a “get you home fix” using a short off-cut of gear cable.
So we stopped on this new cycle path, and working as a team of 3 we managed to move the chain onto a bigger rear cog and lock the rear derailleur in the appropriate position using the the short bit of cable. At least Julie was now able to spin the pedals in a low gear and climb all the hills that we came to, with relative ease.
Eventually we arrived at the bike shop on the corner of the main cross roads in Polegate, where the bike mechanic said that he would have a new cable fitted within an hour. Fortunately there was a nice charity shop/cum cafe a few doors down so we all took the opportunity of a well deserved lunch stop.
Now that we were at Polegate I realised that the bike shop was on the corner of the road back to the coast, via what would have been our originally intended return ride from Eastbourne! So after our lunch stop when Julie had her bike back back and fixed, it was a nice bit of downhill to start off our bike ride to Jevington, followed by a steep up, to join the main A259, coast road at this junction.
And from there it was a fast descent down the very steep Friston Hill, to take the right turn which leads to Birling Gap and Beachy Head. We stopped for ice cream at the N.T cafe at Birling Gap to refuel ourselves for the monster climb back up Friston Hill at the start of our return ride to Newhaven.
We had a brief rest at the top of the Friston Hill climb to get our breath back, and to let the traffic caused by our snail pace, to go by. Then it was our turn to feel the wind in our hair on the long and fast descent on the A259 to Exceat and the bridge over Cuckmere River. Here we again joined NCR 2 and followed it’s off-road section which took us into the western end of Seaford. Here, back at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a Martello Tower was built to protect England from an invasion by the French. Note the cannon still on it’s roof to repel any invaders!
Regardless of our mechanical problems and the much shortened route that they caused, it had been a most enjoyable day. So a celebratory toast was in order to finish the day in the warmth of the late afternoon sun.
This was our day’s route via Seaford, Alfriston, and Polegate, back to the coast at Birling Gap