She-Rides second timer Sam gives the low-down on last weekend’s ‘We Ride to Alfriston Off-Road’
“What a great day out with She Rides! I’m still quite new to mountain biking and this was a 30 mile off-roader so was a bit concerned about how well I would cope! We started out from the Pier and headed up to the Downs near the racecourse and then on to Kingston Ridge. Next we zoomed down into Southease for a lovely downhill and a stop at the new Youth Hostel over the river for tea. Then it was a great climb upwards and onwards to Firle Beacon with some breath taking views along the way over the Ouse River Valley, Lewes, the South Downs and the sea. Spring was finally underway and there were beautiful, bright fields of rape seed flowers and cherry and apple trees covered in blossom everywhere. No cars to contend with, no traffic lights: just the occasional walker, other mountain bikers, some cows, sheep and horses. It’s so much less stressful than road riding and you have the freedom to speed along with nothing to worry about, apart from the odd rabbit hole to outfox you! cope since I’ve only done about 15 miles off road before in one go! But there was no need to worry at all. It was a nice gentle pace with a couple of stops along the way for a rest. Everyone was really friendly and happy to be out for a top ride in the countryside.
The next section took us down into Alfriston for a steep, bumpy descent into the village where we stopped for ice cream and pies from the local shops. It’s a really pretty place and there’s a good reason it’s a bit of a tourist honey trap – timber framed buildings hundreds of years old, a history of smuggling stretching back centuries and some lovely pubs, not to mention some great mountain biking routes. Then it was on to Middle Farm by road for cider! Hurrah! And brilliant value at just £1.84 for a pint of Devonshire cider. Double hurrah! After that we took lovely quiet country roads to Glynde, stopped for another pint at the lovely Trevor Arms and hopped on the train back to Brighton.
I’m definitely hoping for another off road ride like that – maybe from Brighton to Eastbourne next time please? Thanks so much to She Rides for organising such a fab day out. I had a lovely day, learned some new things, saw the most stunning scenery and had a lot of fun! Looking forward to the next She Rides off road adventure!
She Rides first-timer Claire gives the low-down on one of our recent off-road rides….
“The She Rides Off Road to Lewes bike ride was my first She-Rides adventure and my first experience of mountain biking near Brighton. I am from Worthing and met a couple of the She-Rides girls out on my local girls shop ride, organised by Quest.
We got chatting and they invited me over to join them, I was a bit nervous about coming over on my own but i’m so glad I did, the girls were all lovely, the views were beautiful and the ride was challenging without being too technical.
I met the group at Stanmer Park and after some introductions we set off towards the South Downs Way and along to Lewes. There were some nice steady climbs and wide grassy downhills as our reward, great fun! We stopped to regroup regularly so no-one was left behind or struggling whatever our level of experience and fitness.
Once we got to Lewes we decided to get a picnic and sit down by the river, not quite as warm as we thought if was going to be and despite a nice big cup of tea I was pleased to be back on the move!
We headed south, over the A27 and towards a very steep hill! This was the only time we all had to admit defeat and get off and push, it was worth it for the view from the top though, we saw the whole route that we had ridden, from the Amex in the distance, along the ridge of the downs and into Lewes, and all of it basking in the Sussex sunshine on one of the nicest days of the year so far, how lucky we were!
From here there was a choice of heading down to Rottingdean and along the seafront or across the hills and down into Moulscombe, we all said our goodbyes, thankyous and see you soons and the two groups headed off our seperate ways
What a fabulous way to spend a sunny Sunday, making some new friends, seeing the beautiful countryside and burning a bunch of calories on the way, Bonus!
Thankyou girls, I look forward to the next time! x”
Check out our Rides page for details of up and coming rides. Come join a cycling adventure!
One of our riders made a video of Sunday’s ride. Maybe it will tempt you to join us on the next off-road excursion.
There’s also a video of the descent back into Hove:
What a great ride! With sub-zero temperatures, it would have been easy to stay indoors, but Bekah’s route from Hove to Devil’s Dyke was a hidden gem.
Thawing out over a cuppa in the Devil’s Dyke pub before a speedy descent back was real joy, too.
She Rides Off-Road
She Rides have a series of off-road rides planned for the coming months, starting with an all ability ‘She Rides Off-Road Taster‘ on Sunday 10th March and leading up to a 30 mile ‘We Ride Off Road Adventure‘ in May, for more experienced riders. We Rides are for girls and guys so invite your friends, partners, dad or grandad!
Check out our Rides page for more info…Let’s Ride!
Freshly trained new She Rides ride leader Alison shares her experience of leading her first ride last month …
“I’d been interested in becoming a She Rides leader for a while, as I’m passionate about getting more women cycling regularly. When the opportunity came up, I grabbed it with both hands and made sure I booked a date for my first ride as quickly as possible.
To get me into the swing of it, I assisted the lovely Lucy on a ride to Shoreham a fortnight before my ride. That really gave me a good idea of what was most important as a ride leader with She Rides (I lead cycle rides for other cycling organisations, so it was important I judged the tone needed on She Rides correctly), and Lucy was an excellent role model for me. One of my biggest fears as a ride leader is getting a group lost, or mis-reading the map when plotting a route and finding it’s actually much tougher or longer than anticipated, so I took myself out to pre-ride the route the week before. What a joy! As well as the more serious side of risk assessing the route, and being able to manage expectations of the women who join us on a She Rides outing, the pre-ride gave me the perfect excuse for getting out on my bike and trying a route I’d never ridden before. I had planned to do the pre-ride with Helen and she knows the Sussex roads much better than me, but the weather on the day we had set aside for it was actually unsafe for riding (30mph winds and driving rain) so I had to go on my own a couple of days later. I happened to choose a brilliantly sunny and calm day, so I had a brilliant day out on my
The week before the ride date saw flooding across much of southern England, so my anxieties rose again as I had visions of my She Rides ladies riding through waist-deep water and finding our way blocked by flood waters. I happened to be driving past part of the route a few days before, so drove up the country lane to indeed find flood water covering the road in Botolphs. Horror! It was only when I stopped the car, put my wellies on, and walked through the water that I realised it was actually only a couple of inches deep (then a couple of early morning cyclists passed me and I could see it was easily passable).
The day of the ride dawned and it was dry and calm with just a slight sea mist keeping the sun off the seafront meeting place. Lucy was my assistant ride leader (thanks, Lucy!) so I felt reassured that I couldn’t muck things up too much, and three other riders met me at the Peace Statue, making me happy that I’d written the ‘advert’ for the ride well enough to attract some interest. After introductions, signing in, and brief bike check, we set off along the cycle path towards Shoreham, happily chatting as we went.
Unfortunately, one of the riders got a puncture when we reached the Hove Lagoon, and without a spare inner tube, we set about attempting to fix it. After valiant attempts, we had to abandon our efforts however, as we discovered the valve itself was also damaged. Sadly the rider had to walk back home with her bike (and even though it was a shame she couldn’t continue her ride with us, I was glad it had happened where it had, as further into the ride would have made it much more difficult for her to get home). I now include on my ride leader checklist asking riders to bring a spare inner tube, as despite having three spares between us as a group, none of them were the right size for the particular wheel!
A bit later than anticipated, the four of us remaining set off from Hove Lagoon towards Shoreham, enjoying the sea air in our faces and friendly cycling company. At Shoreham we picked up another rider for whom the Peace Statue would have been difficult to get to. She’d decorated her bike for Christmas (antler and red nose on the handlebars, as well as tinsel and fairy lights!) so we were all smiling as we rode of towards Botolphs. My worries about the flood waters were proved unnecessary, as everyone squealed with delight when riding through
it, lifting their legs up and watching the ripples spill into the hedges. As we gently climbed towards Steyning the views opened out. I was aware that we all climbed hills at different paces, so I made sure I didn’t ride up too fast (as if I had a choice!) and paused regularly at the top of hills so that everyone could re-group and catch their breath.
After a warming late lunch in a café in Steyning, we returned home, using our lights in the gathering gloom. The ride home seemed much faster as certain landmarks were familiar and we knew each other so well that we were chatting about all manner of topics. By the time we reached Hove again it was truly dark – only late afternoon, but since the ride was 2 days after the winter solstice, we lost the daylight quicker than at other times of year.
As I soaked in a hot bath when I got home, I reflected on my first experience of leading a She Rides group. I’ll worry less next time, whilst still making sure I’m fully prepared. I’ll know what to emphasise to riders (bring a spare inner tube and good lights) whilst still keeping the mood friendly and informal. I’ll book another ride in soon, as the whole experience was enjoyable and six local women got out on their bikes on a day when it would have been easy to go shopping for last minute Christmas gifts and food instead. Perhaps I’ll meet you on the next ride I lead!
Here’s the video I made of the ‘She Rides away from the Christmas Madness’ ride: