Gracie does a century

Posted: August 15, 2015 in Audax, Cycling
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The forecast was good and I’d earmarked today to go for a nice long ride. The early start that I’d envisaged did not materialise, early starts on a Sunday rarely do, but as I’d made sure that I had no commitments in the evening due to the very high possibility of being very tired, time was not a pressure that I would be entertaining today. Once all the preparations had been done (four cups of tea and a cheese omelette for me, two bottles of water and air in the tyres for Gracie) it was time to go, stopping only for a quick chat with some friends meeting for a morning ride.


Stenying high street in the sunshine

The first part of the ride was down to Stenying, I’ve been down this route before and know it like the back of my hand. This does mean that I tend to day dream my way along, hatching impossible plans and believing that they are possible. Today it was working out what I could do during the forthcoming bank holiday weekend: maybe a very long ride, a swim, a visit to an agricultural show, a meal out, a run, some gardening. No matter how I juggled the ideas they refused to fit nicely into the three days and that was without factoring in the tiredness quotient. I’m still clueless about what I’m doing during that weekend but I managed to reach Stenying. The local Co-op provided me with breakfast and a puzzle as to why the breakfast sandwiches only came as triples. I was hungry but not that hungry.

The next part of the ride was the meat of this cycling sandwich: a trundle down the side of the River Adur and then along miles and miles of glorious coastline, though Brighton, Newhaven and Seaford before turning in land. I’d decided that the cycle path through Shoreham Docks would be best as it would avoid all the traffic lights on the road. I’d not bargained for the wait by the sea lock. There is something very satisfying about watching a lock slowly fill with water and the boats gently rise up. I sat there completely captivated by the sight whilst I was questioned about Gracie by three kids on scooters.


Boats rising in the Shoreham locks

Brighton was crowded; it was a sunny Sunday, so it was not unexpected. I was quite thankful that the cycle path avoided the lights. There were a couple of people who thought it was their right to stand in the middle of the path whilst using a mobile phone but they were the exception and I’m sure that if they were not being a nuisance here they would be being a nuisance somewhere else.

I had a chat with the Sustrans man in Brighton; he wanted to chat about trikes and me joining Sustrans. I can talk about Gracie all day but my enthusiasm for cycle paths can be mixed at the best of times. After that chat though, I thought I’d use a few just to see if my prejudices could be quashed. This is why I got into the following exchange a few miles out of Brighton.


Pedestrian: “Oi, it’s illegal to cycle on the footpath”

Me (pointing at the circular blue sign on the lamppost showing a cycle and a pedestrian) “it’s a joint use path.

Pedestrian: “It’s Illegal to cycle on the footpath”

Me (Still pointing) “It’s a joint use path, I’m allowed to cycle here”

Pedestrian: “And you haven’t got insurance!”

Me: “Yes I have, third party liability”

Pedestrian: “Well you just be careful”

This is why I don’t like cycle paths, especially the joint use variety, I really don’t need a confrontation with someone who clearly thinks they are right (yes, it is illegal to cycle on a footpath) even when they are wrong (except when it’s marked as a joint use path) who then changes the subject to go down a well-worn path (just because I don’t have to have insurance doesn’t mean I don’t; almost every cycling organisation offers 3rd party insurance as a benefit of membership) before ungracefully accepting defeat by attempting to have the last word. These few minutes took the shine off a really rather spectacular ride.


Gracie in repose in Alfristion

At Seaford I headed in land to Alfriston, only a lovingly made Cornish Pasty delivered to me piping hot in a brown paper bag could lift the pedestrian encounter black cloud from above me. As I sat there in the centre of the town, devouring the Pasty my mood brightened. The Pasty had done its work. Gracie just sat there and charmed the admiring bystanders. She is above such petty squabbles as who is allowed where.


Blue skies over Heathfield

100 miles after starting we were back home, happy, tired and ready for a good shower. Today had been another good day.


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