Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Car-less in the Deep South - Is cycling to Goodwood the solution to traffic woes?

Published by Bridget Schuil

Outside the Coal Hole
Credit: Bridget Schuil

Contrary to popular opinion, Goodwood Motor Circuit does not exist in some Diagon Alley-like warp in the space-time continuum. Neither does Silverstone, although it is considerably easier to get to (and get into) Silverstone.

It's possible that I'm biased against Goodwood because they're impossible to reach on the telephone, and waited until after I had passed Newcastle to tell me my press pass had been declined. That aside, it is a lovely venue, and the attendees are chatty, if not as friendly as people who go to race weekends.

Hop on the retro bus

Now to the car-free transport options. Because of the size of Chichester – Goodwood's closest town – it's hard to reach by bus. The trip took hours from Brighton, due in large part to the driver stopping for cigarette breaks in every town centre. To top it off, the bus didn't even go all the way to Chichester; it stopped in Arundel – a town worth visiting again when I'm not seething at being misled about the ticket I bought to Chichester actually resulting in me arriving in Chichester.

Getting there by train was simpler. I donned pearls and a retro dress, bought a ticket, and sat down on the platform; I hadn't been seated more than five minutes before an artist named Amanda – also dressed in retro garb – walked up to me and said, “Revival?” Thankfully, she had insider knowledge, being native to the area, and helped me find the right train car to be able to walk right out of the train and hop on the retro bus. Yes, for Revival the kind folk of Goodwood had authentic old buses running between the train station and the circuit for the weekend.

Amanda and I discussed cycling to avoid traffic. Apparently, I'm not the only one to have thought of this idea; she rode her bicycle there every year she lived in Chichester. I also saw many bicycles tied to fence posts near the circuit, proving that it's a viable option to avoid being stuck in traffic jams.

Trains, planes or automobiles?

However, I do not recommend cycling the length of a country before a weekend when one needs to function at the top of one's game. Upon arriving in Brighton, I felt like doing nothing more challenging than crying, watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory and eating everything in sight.

I was quite unprepared for that, since the sports science lecturers at my alma mater made no mention of being emo after ten days of exercising to the threshold of exhaustion. I won't delve into the physical symptoms of a body reacting to prolonged over-exertion, because my lecturers did forewarn us; suffice to say, straying far from a bathroom is unwise.

So the solution to not queueing at motorsport events is simple: take the train there (or take a plane or bus and mail your bike to your accommodation), and use a bicycle to get around. Failing that: fill the car with food, drink, and travel-friendly entertainment, leave early, and accept that getting stuck in traffic is par for the course.

If you anticipate the car being stationary for a long time, you could try a time-passing trick employed by Zimbabweans embracing the inevitability of queueing in cars: break out the gas-powered barbecue (otherwise known as a skottel braai), throw some sausages on, and make friends with the people around you.