What's on. - Club Runs

Read about seven Maldon cyclists on a club tour to Jersey in October. 

Leaving Essex at a sensible hour in the morning, we drove down to Poole where we left the cars in the port car park and had to ride on-board the catamaran.  Just for once we cyclists took priority over the waiting cars as we were ushered into the parking bays before anyone else boarded. Despite the promise of a smooth(ish) crossing, we took no chances and tethered our bikes  securely and made our way up the stairs to the passenger deck.  The sea was a bit rougher than anticipated and there were more than a few green faces about. 

The ferry was only running on three engines so took longer than usual to make the crossing and those of us with the Mal de Mar were very happy to finally see the lights of St Helier. This happiness was short lived when the Captain announced that another ferry was in our berth and we had to wait for 30mins until we could get into harbour.

Eventually  we docked, were allowed off the ferry first (we felt like royalty!) and cycled the two miles to our hotel in the rush hour. Fortunately, Lynda knew where we were going and the Jersey drivers are courteous and considerate, waving us across the road and giving us right of way at junctions.  It was a little nerve-wracking for the first day or two as our local Essex drivers are, shall we say, not usually so polite and we were not used to being made to feel so special. We arrived at the hotel just in time for dinner.

Our first days cycling commenced after an excellent cooked breakfast.  The group of seven club cyclists assembled outside the garage where we stored our bikes overnight and the usual morning ‘discussion’ about breakfast, dinner, lunch, the weather, clothing , route etc. etc. ensued.  We chose to cycle along the sea front eastwards past the Napoleonic fortifications, Martello towers and the dramatic coast line towards  the village of Gorey.   At Gorey harbour we stopped to take photo’s of Mont Orgueil castle and of ourselves in various silly poses in front of it before heading northwards along the coast road.

Our morning coffee and doughnut stop was at the Breakwater cafe where we huddled inside discussing whether the drizzling rain was, in fact, only a sea mist.  Outside we picked up Cycle Route 1, past Rozel Bay through tiny country lanes until we came to the infamous hill that is Bouley Bay.  Pete was at the front of the group and as he went round an extremely sharp hair pin bend, he was on the centre white line but unfortunately so was the one and only car ascending the hill.  The rest of us managed to avoid running Pete over and he quickly picked himself up, checked nothing was broken and we carried on to the Black Dog pub in the Bay.  The bar man kindly provided antiseptic spray and plasters and we all admired and took photo’s of the “street pizza” that was Pete’s buttock!          

After an excellent lunch we climbed back out of Bouley Bay and zig-zagged through the lanes until we picked up another Cycle Route back to St Helier and a visit to the pharmacy for Pete.  The rest of us visited a Cycle shop where some of us managed to negotiated a substantial discount from the VAT-free prices (tough luck Colin!!).

On day two we cycled from the hotel westwards through St Helier on the cycle route along the sea front past Elizabeth Castle, then through the town northwards until we picked up Cycle Route 9, then Route 5 and Route 3. These Cycle Routes are fairly well sign posted and use a mixture of quiet roads and Green Lanes. Green Lanes are a network of narrow lanes where cyclists, walkers, red squirrels and horse riders take precedence over cars, the speed limit is 15 mph.  Bruce took a ‘hedge stop’ along the way and it was just a pity he was doing 10mph at the time he took it!!     

We met a couple of local Jersey cyclists at the Living Legend for a coffee and they joined us for a meandering route to the north coast and our lunch stop at a converted watermill, now a pub in Greve de Lecq.  Another excellent lunch and a photo opportunity before we climbed out of the bay and explored the north west coast for a while before we noticed that we had lost Colin and the last sighting of him was on a cliff top, camera in hand about 10 minutes earlier.  Now when you bear in mind that the lanes have a bewildering number of junctions, we worried for a minute or two then remembered that the whole island is only 9 miles long, so how lost could he possibly be?

We caught up with him as we cycled down the west coast along Five Mile Road past the C.I Military Museum and the nature reserve.  Just before we got to Corbiere lighthouse we rejoined Cycle Route 1 for an exhilarating downhill ride on the old railway track all the way to St Aubins Harbour (once the capital of Jersey where it gained riches from 18th century privateers).  After afternoon tea we continued along the sea front on the cycle path all the way through St Helier and back to our hotel.            

The third day most of us decided to take a day trip to St Malo on the catamaran, only £25 return with our bikes for the hour’s journey.  (Bruce, still trying to outdo Pete’s wounds, crashed onto the pavement on the way to the port but only managed a couple of small bruises and hardly any blood at all).

Riding out of St Malo, the ‘sea mist’ was coming down quite heavily but the road to Calconne was quiet with rolling hills and we arrived in time for lunch, the excellent three course menu for only 12E included a delicious starter and the obligatory Moules Mariniere washed down with French beer in one of the many cafes in the harbour area.   We got back to the old walled city of St Malo, round trip about 35 miles, in time for ice cream and a wander around the shops before boarding the catamaran back to St Helier.

On our last day we picked up Cycle Route 4 which was part track and lanes through the centre of the island past the Jersey War Tunnels  to our lunch stop at Jersey Goldsmiths.   Although the daily mileages were only about 30 miles, we explored the varied country and coastal routes of Jersey, cris-crossing the Cycle Routes and enjoying good food and very polite locals.

Travel on the catamaran and the hotel accommodation was booked with Condor Breaks who provided an excellent map and information.  Jersey is suitable for all club cyclists and can be quite challenging around the north of the island or quite flat along the south coast with miles of an intricate network of cycle routes and Green Lanes.  Spring and Autumn are ideal times to visit but the winters are mild too with lots to see and do.