It was a glorious morning, the sun was shining and there were plenty of smiles as riders gathered in the Six Bells car park for the second ever Tour de Chiddingly community bike ride on Saturday 16th September. The ethos for the event was to encourage everyone to cycle more, particularly for shorter journeys that would otherwise be made by car. Now that East Sussex County Council have patched the worst of the potholes in the parish, that’s much easier and safer.
In all, 40 riders had signed up for the event, ranging in age from 5 to 81 (no names mentioned). Some were very experienced cyclists, while others had obviously only just dusted off their bikes from the back of the shed. Riders were given the choice of two routes. A shorter, more family-friendly, 6-mile circuit took in the delights of Highlands, Ailies, Stalkers and Smithlands lanes before descending Scrapers Hill into Muddles Green and back to Chiddingly. A longer 13-mile circuit shared the same start and end as the 6-miler but also climbed four of Chiddingly’s infamous hills (Stone Hill, Pick Hill, Gun Hill and Thunders Hill), plus the long slog up Moat Lane to Waldron – that’s 930 feet (285 m) of elevation gain.
As you can see from the photos of the event, everyone had a great time, with the final riders on the 13-mile route returning to the Six Bells after 1 hour and 9 minutes (yes, I timed it). It was great to see such a wide cross-section of the community represented, meeting new people and making new friends over a drink and a bite to eat.
I need to finish with a few words of thanks. A great big "thank you" from everyone at Greening Chiddingly to:
Roll on next year and the Tour de Chiddingly 2024!
Saturday 17th September was a glorious autumn morning – bright, sunny and pleasantly warm, but with a gentle breeze – in fact, perfect weather for the first ever Tour de Chiddingly cycle event. Co-organisers Mark Valleley and Will Rennison had been out the evening before, marking out the deeper potholes, sweeping away areas of loose gravel and putting up signs for the routes (co-designed with Mike Goss). The registration desk was set up, with Greening Chiddingly group members Sheryl Rennison and Tina Letanka ready to welcome the first eager participants. In short, we were good to go.
The first cyclists started to arrive at 10:30 and by 11:00 the Village Shop car park was a sea of bikes, hi-vis jackets and cycle helmets. In all, 50 riders had signed up for the event, ranging in age from 5 to (at least) 65. Judging by the amount of lycra on display, some were very experienced cyclists, while others had clearly only just unearthed their bikes from the back of the shed.
At 11:15, David Nash, Chair of Greening Chiddingly, gave a short welcome, reminding everyone why the event had been organised – to encourage community members to see cycling as their first-choice mode of transport for short journeys. After that, Will gave a short safety briefing. The assembled cyclists were then split into two groups, the more experienced riders following a 6-mile route and a smaller group following a 3-mile route. Both groups had an allocated cyclist at the front and back to act as pacemaker and rear-guard trouble-shooter respectively.
Cyclists on the longer route set off at around 11:20. Turning right out of the car park, the peloton made its way up Scrapers Hill and along Smithlands Lane, Stalkers Lane and Ailies Lane before returning through Chiddingly to Muddles Green. The shorter route headed off about 5 minutes later, also following Scrapers Hill and Smithlands Lane but turning left down Honeywick Lane and Parsonage Lane before arriving back in Chiddingly. Everyone got back safely, although some cyclists following the shorter route took a little longer than expected owing, ironically, to a dodgy battery on an electric bike.
The end of the ride dove-tailed perfectly with the start of the 10th anniversary celebrations for the Village Shop. This included an al fresco barbecue – what better way to undo all the good work of a bike ride than a burger or hot dog? All in all, it was a lovely day, with many people saying how much they’d enjoyed themselves. Thanks to Mike, in particular, who was integral to planning and organising the event but couldn't take part on the day. Roll on next year and the Tour de Chiddingly 2023!
If you took part in the Tour de Chiddingly, we’d love to hear what you thought of the event. Were the routes the right length or would you prefer a longer ride? Is there anything we can do to improve the experience? Would you take part again?