A DAY CYCLING ON JERSEY
A cycle trip around Jersey would not be a specially tough trip for a fit cyclist, nor a overly long one for a sportive. Yet it would be easy to spend a good few days touring by bicycle, visiting places of interest and beauty. At present, suffice it to say that when Steve Dyster and family caught the ferry for St. Malo on Monday morning they collectively declared declared, "We'll have a week there. The car will be left at Weymouth and we will cycle."
Think of all the excuses people give for not riding a bike. Forget them: there is no good reason not to cycle in Jersey. "Some people come back in the evening saying it was really hilly." said the porter at our seat-front hotel, "It can't be that bad. I cycle about." He was right, there were one or two short, steep bits, but easily avoided or taken in the pedal stroke.
Evening ferry arrival made a short ride around St.Clement's Bay the perfect approach to a hotel. The tide was coming in, swirling around the spines of old cliff lines and sturdy islets that had resisted the water when all else had been washed away. Passing one of the many defensive towers built around the island's coast, a final dip brought us to our hotel.
A quick splash in the pool, a hearty dinner and off to sleep with the wash of waves lulling our slumbers.
A leisure cyclist on Jersey will quickly discover that it is made for them. The island's dimensions and the intelligent promotion of infrastructure are supplemented by a network of signed routes with fifteen mile an hour restrictions on many rural lanes.
Take our ride to the Jersey War Tunnels. A stretch of the coast road with moderate traffic skirted the bay, passing one of the numerous towers that encircle the exposed beaches of the southern side of the island. These towers provide cyclists with a series of navigation references; two more and turn right.
As the scene became more urban and the seaside cafes and bars more frequent, the beaches looked good and the so did the lido. We paused – the swimmers in the family went to look.
Making Tracks Through St. Helier
The previous evening we had not noticed the traffic free route that skirted the power station and ran round the harbour, passing the Steam Clock on the way. Like all good infrastructure, it offered continuity, though some roads were barely busy enough to make it necessary. Occassional cobbled ramps ran up and down to the shore where boats were moored. Though not on the route we ran up and down these with cavalier disregard for the sand in the chain and the salt on the painwork.
The cycle track ran on seaward of the town centre with views of Elizabeth's Castle and the sweep of St. Aubin's Bay. Even on a Sunday morning walkers, joggers and cyclists mixed together. Most folk seemed alert to the other users and made use of the width. The main danger was gawping at the views and clattering a fellow cyclist. The geat bay of blue and the castle standing isolated from the harbour it defended did their best to provoke carelessness.
Had I been on a solo and alone, it would have been the perfect day for a circumnavigation. Instead we headed inland just before Beaumont and soon found ourselves at the Jersey War Tunnels.
This was a fascinating take on the Second World War. For the first time we got to visit a museum about enemy occupied territory and were able to fully inderstand the information boards. Situated in tunnels built as a hospital facility by the German occupiers, the displays examine the conflicts and heartbreak of occupation and the joy of liberation. A hard time for the islanders is dealt with thoroughly without shying away from collaboration.
Fifteen is plenty, on the Green Lanes
After that we opted for some light relief. Heading into the heart of the island, starting with a zig-zag bend and a steady climb along lanes with a speed limit of just fifteen miles per hour. Routes are numbered and well-signed. At oner point a notice instructed us to dismpount and push up a hill. We would have done so anyway. This was a short but sharp kick - the only one.
Our objective was the Amaizin Maze, a fun park with all sorts of activities for our youngster and childish parents. When we visited, these included some fine tractors and some very weird bikes that were hinged in the middle and were steered by means of the legs and the front wheel. Initially the place was crowded, but a heavy shower and a dull sky soon made everything available.
Having said that navigation was easy, the return to the seafront route was a little ambuiguous. Yet, on the coast one generally knows that the descent will take you to the sea. The question is which coast and where.
Vive L’ Entente Cordiale
Running back round St. Aubin's Bay toward St. Helier was a very different prospect. Hazy mist half-lit by a faint sun disguised Eizabeth's Castle as a spectre and there was no danger of running over a jogger. By the time we had returned to St. Helier the sun was back out and the crowds of day-trippers were gathering in Liberty Square, by the statue of rejoicing islanders.
Amongst these were several people who stood, stared and photographed our Hase Pino tandem. We decided to give those who wanted a ride around the square. Prominent amongst these were a family from Granville, Normandy, with whom we chatted in best Franglaise
Next morning, as the ferry slid out of St. Helier and pointed it's bows for St. Malo, we looked back and renewed our agreed oath to return to Jersey with our bikes and to stay longer.