January isn’t a month which easily gives itself to cycling adventures, with its short daylight hours and the weather generally being either grey and wet or freezing cold. This is a time when many of us stick to indoor training, with any outdoor rides being short and close to home.
So booking in a full day out on the bikes in mid-January felt like an exciting, if maybe overly ambitious, idea. The plan: a 60-mile ride to the coast for a sea swim and a sauna in a converted horse box on Worthing Beach. We would then travel back by train due to the short daylight hours.
As luck would have it, on the day the weather was about as good as it gets for cycling at this time of year: dry but not too cold and no frost. Four of us each headed out at sunrise and wound our way from Kent to the Sussex coast. There were flip flops slotted in jersey pockets and towels stuffed into saddle bags.
The miles flew by, a small mechanical of a broken chain luckily didn’t hold us up for long and arrived in a rather misty Worthing, bang on time for our early afternoon sauna booking.
The sauna is a pop-up wood fired sauna in a converted horse box on Worthing beach called Fire, Salt & Sea, which can take up to 6 people. We had booked the sauna in advance for a 90 minute session, costing £90. The owner was there to meet us and was in the vicinity the whole time, meaning we didn’t have to worry about locking up our bikes.
The sauna was beautifully made and immaculately clean with large windows to make the most of the sea views. Outside were brightly coloured deckchairs on the shingle beach, and of course, the sea! To the side was a small changing tent which was actually very spacious and had a little seat in, making it easy to get changed in.
Changed and ready to go the question now was – swim first or sauna first?
The next 90 minutes was very pleasantly spent going for dips in the sea, warming up again in the sauna and hanging out on the beach. The sea mist cleared and with the sun now out in Worthing, the sea front was very busy with walkers. It’s fair to say we got quite a few funny looks standing on the beach in bikinis in January! Had we not been quite so lucky with the weather, we might not have enjoyed the deckchairs and the beach so much, but the sauna would be great in any weather!
With the sun shining it, it really did feel like a very special way to spend an afternoon.
The sea was cold of course, but it was easy to warm up again after a dip and really invigorating. The shingle was a little painful on the feet and in retrospect reef shoes might have been a better option than flip flops. The tide can also go a very long way out here, so something to bear in mind as on another day it could have been a very long walk from the sea to the sauna.
When our time was up, we changed back into a combo of cycling kit and some slightly more comfortable items that had been brought along for the journey home, and cycled the one mile to Worthing train station, picking up some food and some cans of G&T from a Sainsburys Local to have on the train.
Taking our bikes on the train was easy and we arrived back home just as the light was fading. To have spent pretty much the entire daylight hours outside at this time of year was amazing. I wondered if I’d ever done that before in January!
A great winter adventure and highly recommended.