“(…)how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing the blind, deaf stone alone with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”Christopher McCandless
On Tuesday night I cycled down to Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs to arrive before dawn so that I could see the sunrise. I’d planned on going on Sunday to see the it on the solstice, but cloud was forecast, so I delayed it by a few days. The ride down was a nice route and pretty easy cycling. I had reached the suburbs by dusk and enjoyed the empty roads. It was a clear night and as an added bonus I got to see a thin moon set.
For the last few miles approaching Chanctonbury Ring there was a bit of nightime off-roading involved, but it wasn’t so bad that I needed to get off and walk at any point.
I arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise and the sky was already beginning to lighten. There were some campers on the Western side, but I had the Eastern side to myself. I found a nice spot to rest and had a quick nap for 20 minutes before waking to watch the sunrise. The hill sits proud on the South Downs, so the view over which the sun rises is impressive.
I then cycled over to nearby Cissbury Ring. This is a much larger area of land, less mysterious and more natural looking than Chanctonbury, and also very beautiful. From there I cycled down to the coast and along to Brighton, then back to London via Ditchling Beacon and Farthing Downs.
The way back after Ditchling was tough; the temperature went above 30C, and combined with hills and hot-tempered heavy traffic didn’t make for as pleasant a journey as the way down had been. There were nice sections though, some leafy lanes and smooth tarmac.
223 km (138 miles), 2,263 m (7,425 ft) elevation, 4 cheese rolls, one pain au chocolat, a few Percy the Pigs, a sorbet, and gallons of water.
I’ve labelled this number one of a series so that it might encourage me to do some more rides themed loosely around the Solar System. Until next time.. 🙂