Shoreham - October 2018: Ride report
And so the sun sets on another year of night rides, with the ride to Shoreham. Our Ride Leader, Adam sends this report.
Trying to organise a large ride in the autumn can be fraught with issues, mainly due to the weather, and Storm Callum certainly gave me plenty to ponder, especially the irony of naming a fierce storm after the Gaelic for dove. Whilst the South East got off lightly compared with the devastation caused in Wales, I had been expecting very heavy rain and very, very strong winds. And then the forecasts changed to no rain, and then a couple of days before, it changed again to rain showers.
The forecasts were also wrong about the wind. Leaving home on the south coast I had to struggle towards the station due to the strength of the wind, but I figured it would be a bit lighter in London. Arriving early in London I was a bit surprised about how calm it was in the suburbs and only a bit gusty in the centre due to the buildings. Bearing in mind the April ride to Bognor hadn’t arrived until 10 am due to the weather, I’d erred on the side of caution with the estimated arrival times, and also made an allowance for faffing time due to mechanicals – which also failed to appear. About the only thing that wasn’t an issue was the temperature. “Phew, what a scorcher” should have been my tagline. 18° in London, and it only dropped to 15° at the Scout Hut.
With hindsight I shouldn’t have done the first half quite as fast as I did. However I’m glad the Carshalton variation seems to have been enjoyed by all. At breakfast, I was asked how I decide what roads to use. My criteria are: something which avoids too many complicated turns (which creates lots of waymarking); not too hilly (no laughing at the back please), ideally smooth tarmac; somewhere convenient for a rest stop, and the possibility of a view if there’s enough light.
Due to the lack of a debilitating headwind, we rolled along the streets of London and out of the countryside and arrived at the Scout Hut very early where fortunately some of the volunteers were already there, and so they were soon up to speed dispensing hot drinks and reviving a few tired souls. Some may say we’re very dedicated cyclists to want to ride all night, but I think the Scout volunteers deserve a medal for providing such an excellent rest stop, as it’s very difficult to find places willing to do so.
One of the first-timers decided to bail for Gatwick but the rest of us rolled off into the balmy night air. Turners Hill has now been embellished with a mini-roundabout which leads off to a new housing estate but on the plus side, it’s meant new tarmac. Turning right off the Hill, if it had been daylight, there would have been lovely views to the south, so we’ll have to see if we can re-run it earlier in 2019. I’d checked the route the previous weekend, but on the section of minor roads heading south from Lower Beeding to Partridge Green, I was worried about tree debris out on the minor roads, but again that also failed to be an issue. On that section we also had a small amount of light drizzle which soon stopped, despite the sky turning very dark.
After going through the lovely village of Steyning – which a number of the riders told me is home to a number of top-notch cafes – we stopped for a while on a hill top and admired the sunrise over the decaying, decrepit hulk that was a cement works. We made a small diversion over the old Toll Bridge into Shoreham and then into the airport on the main approach road, arriving just after 8 am. Being slightly early (sorry again), there was a bit of a wait, but it was worth it, for the breakfast to end all breakfasts. Piled high on the plates, I don’t think many had room for seconds. The only small downside was that we had to wait until 10am for the beer to be served, and a while later, a small merry band made their way back to the station.
Having done these rides since 2006, the one abiding thing is the sense of camaraderie. I’d like to thank everyone who takes part, and also helping out at the back, either with their mechanical skills or just reassuring words, along with the way-markers and it was very nice to see a couple of the first timers also wanting to waymark. Incidentally, after asking the new riders how they heard about the rides, they were either friends of someone who’d already done a ride or had done the Dunwich Dynamo and had seen our rides mentioned on their Facebook page, whilst in one case, he had read the paean about London written in the FT by our stalwart German correspondent Olaf, which mentioned the night rides.