Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Away-Day Ride to Devil's Dyke, 3rd May 2009.

This is hopefully more of a factual report than those produced by you know who, but probably not as interesting to read.

Arriving at the green in Staplefield in good time for our 10 o'clock departure, I was extremely concerned at the apparent lack of parking space. A few weeks previously, I had visited this location on a Sunday afternoon and observed only a handful of cars parked along the green, and decided this would be a good place to use as our start for the away-day ride. Today however, there was some sort of classic/vintage motor cavalcade passing through on its way to Brighton, drawing, many spectators and their cars to this spot. Something I have since learnt happens whenever there's such an event.

Well, Kate and I found a good parking spot and unloaded our bikes. Ron cycled over, having found a parking spot on the other side of the green and Rob was also there with his CV2. Graham arrived by bike, having cycled from East Grinstead and as 10 o'clock approached, Steve and Zoe arrived and managed to find another vacant parking spot. So there we were, seven intrepid cyclists waiting to tackle the dizzy heights of Devil's Dyke.

It is seven years since we, my cycling companions at that time, had done any trips in this area and I remember that some of the routes we used were a big mistake, traffic-wise. Also, I needed to make the ride suitably long enough to satisfy my companions of today. This in mind, I planned an added slight deviation. Unfortunately I missed the start of this deviation and unwittingly followed an original route, being unaware of my error. When road junctions happen to come along, and they sort of coincide with the map, one is unaware of one's mistake. Hence I agreed to take an incorrect left when it should have been straight ahead. Quickly remedied, about turn and back on track.

It's a good idea to follow the leader and not cycle straight on a roundabout when the leader intends to turn right. This was only o few minutes after the previous about turn. No more errors though as we made our way to the garden-centre café.

Bit of a disappointment here though. I had checked up the day before that they would be open, and that they could accommodate a dozen cyclists turning up for a late breakfast.
"We don't do breakfasts", she said.
"But when I phoned you a few weeks ago you said you did do breakfasts".
"Not me", she said, "but I'll get in extra scones etc., and we can't reserve a table".
Anyway, we were too early for lunch or soup, but managed on hot pasties, sausage rolls and cakes. This was just about ½mile before we started the "col de Devil's Dyke". Actually the climb was not as bad as I remembered, and would have been quite pleasant if we hadn't had to share the first half of the climb with so many cars. It was of course a bank holiday, and every Tom, Dick and Harriet was out in his or her car.

The final part of the climb was into a fairly brisk headwind. Arriving at the top was very rewarding with fantastic views across the lowlands where we had come from and down onto Poynings and Fulking where we would be going after the decent. The whole place was buzzing, lots of cars and lots of people, almost a carnival atmosphere. Hang gliders struggling to take off against the strong wind, radio controlled model gliders and the ice-cream van. We stayed about ½ an hour. Some had bananas and some had ice creams.

Now the decent, with a very sharp left off the decent to Poynings. I was expecting it, but the sharpness surprised me for sure. Into Poynings, through the narrow village streets, along the bottom of the Downs to Fulking, where we turned north onto the return part of the trip.

The outward part of the trip through narrow country lanes had almost been devoid of traffic. Not so now. The lane was narrow and for a couple of miles we seemed to meet a car coming against us every few minutes. That stretch over, it was really quite tranquil. I suppose it was at about Wineham that the road starts to climb and it was at this point that Ron started mentioning "Tea and scones", and when were we going to stop.

The last couple of miles into Warninglid were very steep, especially coming towards the end of the ride. Warninglid is a pretty village with its private fishpond. One can always look from the road. And Ron was still talking about "Tea and Scones". From there it was only another 4 miles to Staplefield to pick up the cars, apart from Graham, who cycled back to East Grinstead. Actually, he had reached Worth School when Kate and I overtook him in the car.

It was nice that everyone thanked me for leading the ride, and comments from some on how good to use unfamiliar roads. Next time, if there is one, I must remember to plan for "Afternoon Tea".


If you took part in a ride, why not write a report? The more florid the language, the more inflated the hyperbole, the more tumescent the innuendo, the greater your chance of winning the FRBC Prize for Original Plagiarism.

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