Third time lucky after my two previous occasions when no one showed up due to rain (and who could blame you for turning over), I was fortunate enough to set out in the select company of Chris, Walter, Neil and André on a loop down to Shoreham. Considering there were a number of sportives in progress as well as Rick’s excellent IoW tour the turnout was more than satisfactory and in the spirit of the Sunday Steady event, represented a fairly wide range of capabilities and aspirations varying from a manic summer’s racing programme, through an upcoming ‘Y’ ride to Bruges and the Grand Vincento’s ultra aller-retour à Paris.
In view of the westerly wind direction supposedly freshening towards the afternoon we set out clockwise through Copthorne, a short section on the Balcombe Road and then to Handcross past High Beeches. At Shaves Wood on the B2117 André peeled off for an early engagement and we four continued over the Dyke in weak but bright sunshine. After a guided tour though the back streets of Portslade we arrived for a hoped-for tea stop at Carats on the beach at Shoreham. One glance at the half hour queue changed our minds and we headed through the harbour locks (busy with shipping) to the well-used safe haven of the terminal building at Shoreham Airport. Here we were blessed with their usual prompt and efficient service. Oh, and the plane is a Pilatus PC-12 if you are interested.
In flight refuelling complete we pottered though the back streets of Lancing before embarking on the glorious passage over the South Downs from Sompting to Steyning. It’s like heaven on earth up there with the Seven Sisters reflecting the sunshine. On a good day they say you can see Chicago. Steyning speaks for itself: if you haven’t been there go immediately and soak in this quintessentially English village nestled hard up under the downs.
With much mutual support and the hand of God blowing the prophesied westerly, we put in a respectable dash through Ashurst, Partridge Green, Maplefield and Nuthurst. Walter disembarked at his house in Charlwood and Chris towed Neil and me up Lonesome Lane to Woodhatch. A great day’s cycling in good company – thanks chaps.
Advertised at 77 miles and 3.6k feet climbing, the outcome was nearer 90 miles and 4,000ft., pace 15.5mph.