After chatting to Julia, our amazing Warm Showers guest, over a freshly prepared breakfast of banana, date and home grown strawberry smoothies with a few rounds of toast and giving our chains a good seeing to we finally left, late as always!
We have ridden the Portsmouth to Chichester section of the route countless times, but with the sun out and not a care in the world we took our time taking in the beauty of the route.
Before long and after passing West Ashling pond (a slight detour from the official route, but no longer and much nicer) we could see the spire of Chichester cathedral in the distance. We stopped briefly, but with all the Sunday shoppers snuck off down some ally and bypassed the centre of town.
Moments later we were back in the country with the South Downs off to the north and flat country roads weaving their way out in front of us.
Due to the late start we opted to stop for lunch after fewer miles then anticipated, but Alex soon rustled us up a lovely healthy picnic with some home made goodies (just one reason to own a Carradice) and some bargains from the local shop. We were directed to new town hall in Barnham and soon had our picnic laid out like we were back on tour, all that was missing was a tartan rug!
To my horror a hungry dog had also noticed our feast and was making straight for us. He was followed by his owner, Brandon, who apologies and went to walk away. As he did so his eyes fell of Alex’s All City Big Block. Wow that’s nice he proclaimed, and its fixed! ‘Where did you get it build up?’ This lead to an hours conversations about all things bike related as it turned out he too was quite the tourer and had ridden most of Europe, including London to Budapest as well as riding the Trans Continental route way back in its inaugural year of 1976!!! He had always watch the tour live, the worlds when it was a Goodwood back in 82′ and had even been in the presence of the cannibal himself Eddy Merckx. He had ridden all the major col’s including alpe d’huez and mont ventoux and was about to take the Irish contingent of pipes and drums over to Russia for the military tattoo. But best of all he gave us the code to some locked toilets 😉
Our speed, if you can all it that, continued to drop as we stopped on the beach in Ferring to admire the Mediterraneanesque sea and got court up in traffic both on the road and the seafront cycle path as it seemed everyone else in the south had also realised it was the perfect day to go to the beach.
Bike traffic increased after Worthing and we cruise along in a mass of carbon roadies and tandem couples until Hove where we figured ‘The Meeting Place Cafe‘ was an idea spot to meet Lyndsey, a fixed gear riding, Warm Showers guest from a few weeks back.
After again spending probably to long chatting bikes, touring, her friend Ben Sherrattworld record beating mountain bike ride and fixing Alex’s rear wheel after it mysteriously punctured while lent up again a fence, we were escorted out off town and on to new roads for me. It turned out that we had well over estimated the distance to Eastbourne and instead of 100 miles it was more like 80. This gave us the boost we needed and we set of with faith we would be there by 8pm.
The route to the East of Brighton was lovely and quiet with very different scenery, white cliffs and rock pools, compared to the West and had a great cake shop halfway down 🙂
Lyndsey left us at the start of the hills and headed back into Brighton as we grinded up the first major incline of the day, I say ‘we’ but as I was on my Carradice sporting gentleman’s bike (Surly Pacer) I just dropped a few gears and took the time to enjoy the view.
This was the first time we had used the Garmin Touring’s self made routes option and all was working well, until it sent us down a very gravelly bridle way for a few 100 yards. We didn’t learn our lesson from this and soon found ourselves on some off road single track as we navigated our way through Seven Sisters Country Park. Although it was slow and bumpy going is made for a great adventure and reminded us of our full South Downs Way ride a few years ago. The feeling of being in nature, rather then just passing it by was intense and we now more than ever both want mountain bikes!
We managed to get back on the road and after one last hill we could see Eastbourne laid out far below us. The decent down into the town was the fasted of the trip and and was a great way to end a fantastic ride!