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How to: Cycle Hove to Shoreham

Ever since moving to Hove in 2017 I have been Musical Director of Sussex Voiceworks, a choral society based in Shoreham. Someone wise once told me that a choir is a community and I learnt how true this is during the pandemic. We helped each other through those long months with our weekly Zoom rehearsals, singing from our bedrooms and laughing and chatting together. We’re all delighted to be back to ‘real’ rehearsals now. There’s nothing like gathering together and singing in harmony and it’s my job to help make it happen.

I had always driven the 10-mile round trip on Monday nights and never even considered an alternative. When I started cycling we made a commitment as a family not to drive any journeys within Brighton & Hove where possible so I was still off the hook with this one! I couldn’t imagine being able to cycle that far and lead a rehearsal. For a while I took the train but the wait for a train home was a pain after a long day’s work. 

My confidence riding our e-bikes began to grow and we would regularly cycle to Shoreham and beyond as a family at the weekends. I became comfortable with the route past Shoreham Port on Basin Road and then following the National Cycle Route 2 along Middle Road. I find familiarity with a route gives me a big confidence boost. Maybe I could manage the distance after all. It was frustrating to think that if the temporary cycle lanes had remained in place on the Old Shoreham Road and the Upper Shoreham Road I would have had a direct route virtually from my front door. Another thing holding me back was having to make the journey in the dark. I wasn’t sure about cycling through Shoreham Port in the dark. So I waited for the longer days and finally took the plunge this Spring.

At first I cycled along Basin Road on the way but tried an inland route on the way home once it was dark. I actually found negotiating all the side-streets in the dark more scary. Car drivers don’t always behave sensibly when it comes to navigating parked cars and narrow stretches. There are also some useful shortcuts through Southwick Park and Portslade Cemetery but I really didn’t enjoy these as a lone woman at night. Occasionally I cycle home on the main road, the A259. I would never cycle along here in the day but at 9.30pm it’s actually pretty quiet and I mostly don’t mind it.

My preferred route though has become Basin Road both ways. It feels quiet and safe to cycle with good street lighting. Plus the big added bonus of beautiful sea views. The wind can be a challenge but that’s another huge advantage of riding an e-bike. The locks are generally nothing more than a minor inconvenience, having to get off and give way to pedestrians coming the other way. Only once have I been completely held up there. More direct routes on segregated cycle lanes would encourage far more people to make this journey.

A 10-mile round trip is a decent distance for me. I have a mild neurological condition (CMT) which means I’m not at all sporty and causes me fatigue if I don’t manage my activity levels. Leading a 2-hour choir rehearsal also takes a lot of energy and I thought it might all be too much for me. But I have discovered that cycling in the sea breeze actually gives me more energy than it takes away.

The journey is a good 30 minute cycle each way compared to a 15 minute drive. Sometimes life gets busy, I run out of energy or I have to transport a keyboard which even our Tern GSD can’t manage! On those weeks I drive. Cars can be useful too. But the pleasure of jumping on the e-bike, knowing that I’m doing a good thing for the planet and watching the sunset over the sea means I will probably choose the bike next Monday night.

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