Monday, 18 April 2011

Hastings Castle Cycle Challenge


It was an early start, leaving Newchurch at 06:50, for the cycle over to the meeting place at Pett near Hastings. A lovely, bright, fresh morning, trees full of blossom, birds singing – all be it a bit chilly. A straight forward ride for John, Tess, Graham and myself, on the flat through Rye, Winchelsea Beach and Pett Level, before the 25% climb up to Pett, where we had the first collision with Tarmac of the day, when Graham fell off - the steepness of the climb being too much for his much maligned legs. Soon after a familiar Thornton shirt draped over a broom head pointed us to Roy and Jane’s house.

Carol had driven over; so we seven set off to the start of the annual Castle Cycle Challenge at the Life Boat Station in Hastings. For a more literary description of the 40 mile route, through Bexhill, Pevensey, Herstmonceux, Pevensey and back to Hastings, see Eric’s report of last year!

We were pootling along nicely as a group, overtaking Rye Wheelers peletons on several occasions and enjoying the changing scenery of the traditional sea-front, Pevensey Castle and then the Pevensey marshland, before a short incline and then turning into the grounds of the impressive Hestmonceux Castle. The peace and tranquillity were interrupted as Jane, admiring the scenery, overlooked a speed bump on a decent and crashed to the road.
 Another casualty had come to a similar fate seconds earlier and he was lying beside the road, blood oozing from his wounds, in a state of shock and moaning about the lack of attention. Meanwhile we all rushed to Jane’s assistance – obviously grazed and dazed - a cigarette was just what the doctor ordered! Further investigation revealed deep cuts and grazes to her arm, leg and hand and lots of red stuff, conveniently mopped up in a Thornton shirt and fortunately no broken bones. Roy was very concerned about the scratched bike and new, now torn, handlebar tape. 

A ‘very nice’ paramedic turned up after some time and after dealing with the male casualty on the other side of the road (who was taken off to hospital in an ambulance), cleaned up and patched up Jane’s wounds. Bravely Jane was keen to carry on, so off we set again for the ride back across the marshes and then the sea front towards Hastings. 

Rituals are already developing for this annual event; so it was that we stopped for tea, a slice of cake and a bask in the sun at a tea shop on the sea front, before cycling on to the finish and collecting our medals at the Life Boat Station. Then on for fish and chips, more sun basking and people watching in the Old Town, before making our way back to Roy and Jane’s for the much talked about home made cake and more tea and coffee.

The cycle back into Kent and home for most was tough, with the easterly wind picking up. But all in all, an excellent and eventful day out on a splendid spring day in the Sussex countryside.
Jane’s wounds are bound to be a bit sore for a few days; so we all wish her a speedy recovery.

By Richard Foster