Cycling offers a wide choice of experiences and we offer most types of ride during the year.
These vary in length from 20 to 100 or more miles, at different speeds, some with lots of hills and some almost flat. We are lucky that our area offers varied riding terrain. People do these rides for fitness, fun, company (some of it quite good), an excuse to eat cake, or just for the love of riding in the fabulous Sussex countryside. Club rides run all year round and make up the majority of our activities. They are not races.
Known as the ‘race of truth…’ Running from early May to late August, time trials are just you against the clock (and against the others as well – it’s always good to beat a friend). We race over four different approved courses at distances of between 8 and 18 miles. There are points for winning and for being placed up to 11th overall, with a trophy at the end of the season for the rider with the most points. For most of us, we are competing against ourselves and against other club members of a similar ability, comparing times year on year and hoping for bragging rights!
Open time trials are also available. The most popular one for the club is the ESCA Hardriders, over 14 hilly miles in the countryside north of Bexhill; usually the first time trial of our season. Other local clubs offer time trials that you can enter, the nearest clubs being either Eastbourne Rovers or Rye Wheelers.
Also, the East Sussex Cycling Association (ESCA) organises time trials over distances from 10 to 100 miles. These events usually have cash prizes.
The club has an active mountain biking group that organises rides on the Sussex Downs, at Bedgebury and Bewl Water. You will need a mountain or cyclocross bike for this sort of riding.
Hastings and St Leonards Cycling Club has a long and fine tradition of racing, although fewer members than usual currently do so. Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can start racing through British Cycling, as a ‘category 4’ rider, building up experience and points that allow you to move up through the categories. Locally, Preston Park offers circuit races. Road races need to be properly sanctioned by an approved authority.
These are rides over distances from 30 to 100 miles organised by, for example, Wiggle or Cycling Weekly (we do not organise these ourselves). The route is waymarked and there is usually support for mechanical problems. They can be quite expensive but the club takes part in a good number of these rides through West and East Sussex, and Kent. These rides are increasingly competitive in feel although they are not races as such. There is usually a finishers medal and a goody bag at the end.
Popular local sportives include Castle ‘On Yer Bike’ cycle challenge for charity, organised by the St Leonards Rotary Club, and the Eastbourne Festival of Cycling sportive.
Sometimes described unkindly as ‘cycling in sandals whilst wearing a beard’, these were the precursor to modern Sportives. They are ridden more slowly and the route is not waymarked. They are much cheaper to enter and the club takes part in a good number of local audax rides through some of the most beautiful countryside in East Sussex and Kent.
This is a face-paced and disciplined training ride for experienced riders, some of whom use it as training for racing, others to improve their fitness, speed and handling skills by riding at a high intensity. It runs from September until the end of April. You will need good lights as we ride over the Pevensey Marshes on unlit roads.
Some of our more masochistic members enjoy riding long distances over one, two, three or more days, or rides over huge distances of 4,000km. These can either be organised events or rides they sort out themselves. Cheeks of steel are needed.