Sunday 15 May. I Spy Ride. DA Event

It could be said the I-Spy Ride went quite well at least in terms of numbers attending. The only problem was that a lot of people had been wishing for rain for their gardens for months. Did it all have to come in one go on Sunday daytime though. There was a lot more rain than forecast.

I went there train assisted to Pulborough. Bob, Sam, Maureen and Max rode there starting 8.00 Chichester Cross. There were for 4 from Arun Adur and 9 from Horsham Crawley.

It was just about dry when we met at Pulborough Station but started raining as the Event started and kept raining for the rest of the Ride. With no Bognor Chichester at the Start time I joined the Arun Adur team Richard Boulton, Dave Fox, Paul Price and Mick McCormack. Bognor Chichester had a late start of the Event. The Event route organised by Bob Moore of Horsham/Crawley took us via Fittleworth, Sutton and Bury to Houghton where the Groups met up for lunch at Houghton Bridge Tea Rooms. The rest of the route took in Amberley to finish at The Five Bells, West Chiltington.

Edwin

Sunday 10 April Ride to the AGM Lavant

It was a beautiful sunny day for the event though a little chilly at a maximum of 12C. Edwin was the leader who was joined by Adam Bell, Rebecca Olds, Maureen, Harvey, Jeff and Bob. We were joined at the Hall by David and Michelle and Arthur and Lynn all by bike plus Graeme making 12 out for the day.

The start at 9.30 coincided with a Palm Sunday Event with priests and 2 Donkeys.

The route was fairly straightforward being up Centurion Way and then on to the Hall next to Lavant Village Green. We had moved to a larger Hall due to Covid. This one was Covid Secure with Seats well apart and windows opened plus many hand wash stations. Graeme helped a lot by opening up and setting up in advance

Arthur chaired the meeting. We made our own ways back after the meeting.

Edwin

Sunday Ride to Aldingbourne 20 March 2022

There were 2 Rides today, a long Ride to Wickham with 6 out and this short ride to Aldingbourne also with 6 out. Arthur was the leader and he was joined at Chichester Cross by Lynn, Edwin, Harvey, Jason and Rosemary. The day was mainly sunny though with a cold easterly wind.

The first picture was of the group at the start taken by Edwin

The second picture was taken by Arthur

The group set out via West Street and then via The Centurion Way to Lavant. Then it was along the Goodwood Straight past the airfield and motor track. Work was being finished ready for the 79th Members’ Meeting which will be held on 9-10 April.

We took Park Lane east towards Halnaker and then down to Boxgrove. This used to have a very good sit down Café where we aimed for elevenses. Unfortunately they are now takaway only. We instead headed up the road to the Anglesey Arms, Halnaker but it turned out they were not an early opening Pub and were shut to 12.00

Instead we opted to give up on elevenses and continue direct to Aldingbourne. We headed up the A285 for a short hill before turning off on the much quieter Thickett Lane and then down  Blackmill Lane past Mount Noddy straight to Aldingbourne Country Centre Café.

There were not too many kids around so it was quite peaceful for us to enjoy our early lunch. After we headed for the tunnel under the A27 at Fontwell where we split up making our own ways home. Mileage from and back to Chichester was about 25.

Edwin Jones

Sunday 13 March Ride to Rudgwick

Six of us gathered at the Cross on Sunday 13th March for a ride to Rudgwick; myself (Bob) leading, Sam, Paul, Maureen, Adam and Max. I’d changed the time to 8.30 as it is a long ride and I needed to get back for something. But there was no problem over this, as we are a very mature group of responsible adults, so at 8.30 I said “shall we go?”, and immediately found Max hadn’t turned up, (though admittedly he was riding from Midhurst), Sam had a cold and had forgotten his hanky, so I rummaged around for some tissues for him and Adam started to play with his mudguards, thus setting them a bad example as they obviously didn’t want to go to Rudgwick and tried to go in a different direction. So we set off a bit late, and stopped every now and then for Adam to tell his mudguards off, which resulted in them sulking and sucking their thumbs for a while, before playing up again as soon as he stopped looking at them.

We nevertheless negotiated the new crossing system at the Oving Road A27 junction, which takes longer than it used to so Adam’s mudguards took advantage of the slight delay to start throwing things at each other, thus lengthening the delay. But onward we surged, not even pausing at Walberton and as it was still early on a Sunday went up the A29 – traffic wasn’t too bad – before zooming down Houghton Hill to the Riverside cafe for coffee.

Coffee in fact turned into breakfast for some of us, with large numbers of eggs and bits of bacon around, and it all began to seem quite grown up. We went to pay and Paul and I got our bikes ready, wondering where everyone else was and moaning about timekeeping. Eventually, one by one they appeared and slowly the group reformed, bikes at the ready, by which time Paul had vanished. I was just about to suggest a search party, but he also reappeared and I set off quick before anyone else could decide to explore the local scenery, through Amberley, and up towards Nutbourne where Adam’s mudguards started giggling and causing upset. Adam quelled them in a trice however, and we continued through West Chiltington, not stopping at a VR postbox on the way and so on to Billingshurst. We put up with the disgusting A29 again for the short distance it is unavoidable, turned off at Okehurst Lane and followed a route I really love, up Okehurst Road, past delightful countryside, through Bignor Wood and so up to Rudgwick and through Bucks Green.

“Are we nearly theeeerre yet?” Sam started to chant from the back as we turned left up Lynwick Street, followed by “How much fuurtheerr?”. I was just regretting not bringing a jigsaw puzzle, or maybe a cosh to keep Sam occupied, but we shortly went over the old railway line to arrive at our lunch stop at the Milk Churn. There, however, the staff had obviously known we were coming and were fully prepared as they provided for each of us a little gadget with flashing lights and buzzers to keep us amused and stop us causing any trouble. This intended distraction didn’t work instantly, as Paul and I started to try and throw the tables about, but there as well the Milk Churn were braced, and had screwed the tables down to prevent us vandalising. So we gave up and played with the buzzy flashy things and quietened down, our good behaviour only slightly disturbed by Sam saying “eww what’s that?” when he saw my avocado smash avec pancetta, clearly jealous. Paul, meanwhile, did his now habitual vanishing act when the pic was taken:

“Has everyone been to the toilet?” I asked anxiously as our meal came to an end, though my efforts to keep control were nearly foiled by Adam’s mudguards, which were resentful having been left out of the games with buzzy flashy things and tried to cause disruption. However Adam was in full disciplinary control of the Recalcitrant Mudguards by now, so we had only the briefest hesitation before shooting back down through Buck’s Green, to stop at a very interesting Edward VII post box a little way down the Loxwood Road.

Strengthened by this Morally Fortifying Find we continued through Loxwood, turned left to go through Ifold and then right past the golf course to Kirdford, where the tea hut stayed open just long enough to provide victuals.

Over tea, excited by our newly adopted Mature Attitude to Life, we formed a committee to consider some Unresolved Questions of Life and the Universe, with special attention to Cycle Helmets and Nutrition. We were, I think, definitely in favour of the latter, though some misguided comments were made about my Sensible Decision to cool myself down with an ice lolly (the wrapper of which proclaimed it to be “100% real”, which raised intriguing thoughts about the Ontological Authenticity of their other produce), and to fortify myself to an even greater degree than that achieved by an Edward VII post box by stuffing my face with a Chocolate Concoction. This disagreement preceded a shift in our Philosophical Discourse as we moved on the the helmet issue. There too, however, we were unable to arrive at a clear cut judgement. Aided by Adam’s impressive knowledge on the subject we could only concede that the complexities of the matter could not be reduced to a simplistic statement without doing violence to the subtle nuances inherent in the topic, in contrast, I felt, to the quite different issue of ice lollies and Chocolate Concoctions which are undoubtedly a Good Thing.

Our responsible commitment to the Pursuit of Truth was further demonstrated by the conduct of some Serious Science, in an experiment to discover the best method of taking a group pic, firstly by pointing the camera and pressing:

Then by asking people to “say sausages” while said pic was taken:

I think the second pic shows definite advantages, with slightly more evident smiles, a slightly odd look from Adam but with Sam looking equally grumpy in both.

Following the usual route back from Kirdford I was pleased to inject a Thrilling Delight into the company by pointing out another Edward VII post box at Byworth, following which we sped (or, of course, pottered in my case) to Barlavington where Max left us, but the rest staggered up Duncton Hill. Thereafter Maureen and Adam peeled off as we turned down the Lavant Valley, then Paul and Sam did the same at Lavant. I had done 67 miles from home when I got back, pleased to have aided in furthering the Body of Knowledge in matters of Thorny Controversy.

Bob

Sunday 6 March Ride to Stansted

There were 2 Rides today a long Ride to West Meon with 4 out and this ride to Stansted with 5 out

On the Ride today were Harvey the leader, Maureen, Edwin and David and Michelle Sinclair. It was dry all day but it felt very cold with a strong NE wind. It was cloudy in the morning with gradually more sun in the afternoon. David was out with a new Electric Bike making Harvey the odd one out being the only one on the ride without an Electric Bike

Harvey led us up the Centurion Way coming off at Hunters Race and then back roads to West Stoke and past  Kingley Vale Car Park and quiet back roads to Funtington. Then a stretch of main road before turning off on a lane to the Woodmancote Pub for elevenses. We enjoyed the  large portions of cake they are well known for in the cycling community.

Then it was on via Westbourne and a lane to Aldsworth. Then on to lunch at Stansted House, Blossoms Garden Centre Café. After warming up over lunch we headed out and got ready for departure.

We retraced our route to Woodmancote and then got onto the South Coast Cycleroute via West Ashling Lane. Then it was onto Clay Lane back towards Chichester. When we regrouped I took a picture as the sun came out

Mileage from and back to Chichester was about 25.

Edwin

Bike ride to Midhurst on Sunday 30 January 2022

Eight cyclists, Edwin, Sam, Russell, Maureen, Max, Paul, Adam and Michael met at the Cross in Chichester on Sunday 30th January and cycled out of town under cloudless skies, but with a chill in the clear air, it was only 1.1C at 9.00am.

Michael led the group out along Clay Lane to West Ashling and up Watery Lane to Funtington, where we parted with Edwin; after which we soon arrived at Compton Village Store and indulged in the Battle of the Bacon Sandwiches. The staff at the Village Store had mixed up our order with another group of cyclists, suffice to say that Russell and Paul received their boxed-up bacon sandwiches in record time, much to the amusement of all onlookers.

After the first café stop of the day, and his bacon sandwich, Russell led the group on the gradual climb up the B2146 past Uppark House and Garden, after which we all free wheeled down into South Harting. The route from South Harting ascended along narrow country lanes flanked by high hedgerows all the way through Nyewood and on to Rogate, where we crossed the A272 and climbed up through leafy glades to Milland for our second café stop of the day at the community run store and café. After gorging ourselves on Maureen’s coconut rounds,we turned right out of the car park and headed on through Redford and Iping Marsh and on past the grounds of Woolbeding House and Gardens, before descending into Midhurst.

We stopped for lunch at Garton’s Café in Midhurst, as planned and we were overjoyed to be served by the ever friendly ‘Mrs Doyle’; Sam was in his element J! We sat outside and enjoyed a hearty lunch.

The lunchtime conversation included memories of climbs up Mont Ventoux and the Col du Galibier; how to deal with grumpy French restaurant owners; the geo-political situation on the border of Russia and Ukraine; and all those parties that Boris Johnson held during lockdown!

Sam and Mrs Doyle

Following on from lunch, we cycled past the polo pitches on the Cowdray Estate and on through South Ambersham, Selham and Upper Norwood and on to the fourth café stop of the day at Graffham, before cycling on through Heyshott and up and over Cocking Hill, where we competed with a line of impatient car drivers. Following the descent of Cocking Hill, we parted company with Maureen and Adam at Singleton; they were heading off to Felpham and Aldwick via East Dean and Eartham.

We cycled on to West Dean, where we parted company with Paul and Sam who carried on cycling down the A286 to Chichester; and Max, Russell and Michael ventured off down Centurion Way to Mid Lavant. Max parted company at Mid Lavant, and Russell and Michael cycled down the southern part of Centurion Way to Chichester. The round trip from Chichester covered 51.1 miles, the average speed was 12.1mph,the route included 2,428 feet of ascent in glorious weather conditions, and a great time was had by all.

The Route

Michael

Sunday 23 January 2022 Ride to East Meon

There was again a good turnout on this Ride compared with some recent Rides with 8 out. Sam was the Leader and he was joined at 9.00 at Chichester Cross by Russell, Paul, Bob,  Maureen, Max, Mark Jones and myself (Edwin)

The weather was dry but cloudy and dull starting at 3C and rising to 6C.

We headed out west first along West Street and then picking up Clay Lane and the lanes of the South Coast Cycleroute via Woodmancote and Westbourne.  From Westbourne it was up the Monks Hill before picking up Woodberry Lane across the border into Hampshire and on to Rowlands Castle for elevenses at the Bumblebee Café.

I turned round after elevenses while the rest were continuing via Hambledon to East Meon for lunch.

Sam reports that after Rowlands directions went adrift!! At Gipsy Hill 5 people proceeded via correct route to Forge Café Hambledon.    

 One ended up at Bat & Ball I think  and 2 at East Meon!! Re directions and we all re met at Café in West Meon!!

Today: 55+miles, 2,663’.00 climbing Ave speed:12.2mph

Edwin Jones

Sunday 16 January Short Ride to the Forge Slindon

Weather today was reasonable being dry with fog to start clearing to sun later and temperatures milder than of late up to 10C. Turnout was very good with 8 out on this short ride and 6 on the long ride to Wisborough Geen.

We started 10.00 at Chichester Cross led by Harvey. Also out were Arthur, Maureen, Edwin, Rebecca, Adam, Rosemary and Jason.

We headed out on quiet back roads to get to the Cycle Bridge over the A27 to join the Cyclepath alongside the A259 before turning off on Drayton Lane. We were split by a train at the Level Crossing and waited on the Oving Road. We looked at a Buzzard on a Telephone pole ahead of us not visible in the picture unfortunately due to distance and fog.

We continued on the Oving Road to Aldingbourne where we turned off on Hook Lane to join the A29 at Woodgate. After a short way heading north on the main road we turned right on Ivy Lane a dead end for cars but for us we continued on a cyclepath to pick up Church Lane by The Wilkes Head. We came out on the Barnham Road and took that towards Barnham for a short way before entering a private Estate on Downview Road and passing Harvey’s house. The route forms a quiet roads bypass for Barnham. We came out on Barnham Lane to pick up the Cyclepath to Walberton. Then it was up to Fontwell, by now in the sunshine and under the A27 to pick up a beautiful lane through Slindon Woods.

The Lane is called Slindon Bottom Road and from there we had to get to a lane called appropriately Top Road requiring a tough hill to get to it.

We descended to a leisurely early lunch/late elevenses at The Forge Café, Slindon where we occupied one of the very long tables. Eventually we got ready to leave.

We took an easier more direct route back making our own ways home from Barnham.

Edwin Jones    

Sunday 17 October Ride to Salt Shack Café Hayling Island

The group gathered at Chichester Cross at 10.00 for the start of the ride led by Arthur. Lynn joined the Group later. Also at the Cross were myself (Edwin), Maureen, Bob, Rosemary Burfoot, Jason Downs, Martin Hind and Graham Annally so 9 in all out on the day. Sorry no pictures due to a technical problem with the Phone. Weather was warm and dry up to 16C

We headed out via West Street and then on via the bridge over the railway to Fishbourne. Then we picked up Clay Lane and on via lanes near West Ashling to stop for elevenses at The Woodnmancote with large portions of cake.

While everyone else went on to the Salt Shack Hayling for lunch I turned back for home from The Woodmancote. I took a less direct route home to avoid the large amount of mud on the Bognor Chichester Cyclepath alongside the main road cause by an inconsiderate farmer running tractors between fields along the cyclepath.

See the picture below by Member Adam Bell and placed on Facebook.

Edwin Jones

Ride to Hayling Island

Episode two

As Edwin points out we went down West St and over the Fishbourne bridge to pick up Clay Lane, but I felt he did not do justice to the innovatory nature of the route, as far from turning right into Clay Lane directly from the Fishbourne Road, Arthur took us under the bypass, along the cycle path next to the Roman Palace, turned right into Salthill Road and left after the level crossing to go up to Clay Lane. Apart from avoiding the unpleasant junction between Clay Lane and Salthill Lane, it was a revelation that a route I’ve done frequently returning to Chichester was possible in the opposite direction without at any point having to cycle backwards.

At the Cross there had been an enquiry, I think from Edwin, about where we were having coffee, which had left Arthur bemused, as the chances of him passing the Woodmancote without a coffee have been officially rated as lower than the chances of the Highways Dept mending a pot hole, that is to say it has been known but you have to believe in reincarnation to expect to see it twice. So stop we did and sadly, as Edwin has described, he had to leave us there, but the rest powered on through Westbourne and so down the old railway cycle route. There we encountered lots of people out with dogs, most of which were under reasonable control but one dog, obviously competing for Stupidest Dog of the Year, with owners supporting the dog in this endeavour by acting as role models, decided Graham’s bike was shaped a bit like a bone (knobbly bit at each end) and was therefore a good thing to play with. Graham decided to save the dog’s life by putting his own at risk, a generosity which might be reciprocated by Stupid Dog-and-Owners being more careful in future, but on the other hand might… just possibly… not be.

Once Graham had recovered we continued as usual over the Bridge of Death before reaching the sanctuary of the marina and Salt Shack Cafe, where Lynn joined us after what must have been an impressive ride to catch us up. They do good fare at said establishment but warn very reasonably that they do not do fast food, but good food slowly. That meant waiting for my takeaway salad for a bit and taking it to the picnic tables where the Peloton was established. I was appalled to see that no-one else was eating, though Maureen at least has a tendency to bring sandwiches so there may have been some lunching while I was waiting for mine (I keep myself calm with that reassuring thought). Possibly also the large cakes at the Woodmancote mentioned by Edwin might have helped in achieving what I feel confident in estimating as a 100% survival rate over lunch. At any rate the salad I had bought was excellent, though eating it was a two man job, me eating and Arthur holding the box it came in on the top of the table rather than on the lawn where it was trying to go.

Over lunch we formed a committee to review Road Safety for Cyclists and with Maureen acting as Expert Witness we came to the unanimous decision that the safest thing to do was to be a woman. Several of us felt a little challenged by the adoption of this tactic, especially those of us with beards, but I’m sure it was the right decision, and will doubtless be put to a vote at the next AGM.

We returned the traditional way, at least at first, past the beautiful Langstone Mill Pond and back via Westbourne again. But at the right hand turning after Edith Cottages Arthur again introduced dangerously radical innovation and carried straight on. This enabled us to discover that someone has nicked West Ashling Pond, just a trickle of water into a largely empty space, which is either outrageous or impressive depending on whether you are a duck.

I sadly had to leave the group there as I had to get back for a family Zoom thing, and my departure was made all the more abrupt by an urgent need to do something that I think might have filled up West Ashling Pond again had I stayed. Instead I stopped by a ditch along Clay Lane and filled that up, enabling the Assembled Company to catch me up, so I had to leave them a second time. I thus do not know exactly how the adventure ended, but if I were a betting man I would lay odds on a stop at Fishbourne Roman Palace for tea.

Bob

Sunday 10 October Long Ride to Coldwaltham

We had a good turnout for the ride to Coldwaltham on Sunday 10th October, with eight of us meeting at the Cross for a performance of:

COLDWALTHAM. A Tale of Overcoming Adversity in three acts.

Cast

Alan in the role of Leader Who is Not Quite Sure Of The Way;

Sam in the role of Person Actually Leading But Moaning About It;

Paul in the role of Hero Who Has Half Crippled Himself Riding To The Ends Of The Earth;

Maureen in the role of Sensible Person Who Brings Lunch Just In Case;

Adam in the role of Person Who Knows What He’s Doing with a Bike;

Harvey in the role of Steadying Influence Among The Vicissitudes of Life;

Roger in the role of Someone Who Doesn’t Want Lunch Anyway, and

Bob (me) in the dual role of Person Who Is Falling To Bits And With a Bike Doing Likewise and Person Who Gets Harassed by Sam into Doing The Ride Report Even Though IT WASN”T MY RIDE, and come to that WASN’T EVEN SAM’S RIDE.

Chris also looked in to say hello on his way to Ring Them Bells (ref. Lisa Minnelli) at the cathedral.

Act 1

Once our respective roles had been assigned by the Great Cyclist in the Sky we set off eastwards, bound for Walberton Pond, during which Paul and I hung back a little while I heard the rather inspiring tales of his recent LEJOG ride. We didn’t stop at Walberton but hurtled onwards up the A29 to Whiteways, down Bury Hill and turned right through Bury. My bike was creaking in increasingly alarming ways, and as we were going along I remembered that I had had a new gear cable for my hub gears fitted, which might have stretched, and my suspicion was confirmed by Adam, fulfilling his role as we rode to Amberley coming up level with me to say “I think your gears need adjusting” and kindly offering to look at them when we stopped. I was relieved at this, as I had last adjusted them myself about 7 years ago, which information caused Adam to fall about laughing hysterically, thus giving me the suspicion that he was more suited to the role of Person Who Knows What He’s Doing With A Bike than I by a margin of about 100 miles.

And so we arrived at Wiggonholt, first time I think since the Great Plague began, and blundered about looking for the New Way of Doing Things, which involved going to a kiosk desk near the shop rather than the old cafe entrance round the back, not getting any hot food as they hadn’t had a gas delivery, and taking our coffee back again to the tables overlooking the bird sanctuary. As we went to go Adam pulled my bike out to adjust the gears, which he did in spite of me interfering with completely inaccurate information misremembered from 7 years ago, but in the process of which he found the chain was also about to split, one link only holding it, as it were, by a thread. After two goes, much grease and a spare link and associated tool kindly provided by Paul the chain was repaired and the very good soap provided by the RSPB in their loos much appreciated.

Act 2

The repair made the rattle pretty much better, but it was still there a tiny bit, as my bike, miffed at being left out of the original Casting for the Ride, had adopted its own role of Source of Multiple Problems So That If You Think You’ve Solved Them You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet, Laugh Laugh, but this wasn’t to become evident for a while. But emboldened by the success of the Multiple Repair I briefly took the lead for the Westward Ride to Coldwaltham, passing on the way the Greatham Poetry Box where although we didn’t stop I composed, as Temporary Leader, a short masterpiece as we rode:

Roses are red and violets are blue,

We’ve just passed the Telepoem Box but not stopped to write a proper poem.

Pleased with this Creative Moment, we arrived at Coldwaltham, where Roger left us but the rest survived the horrible junction to reach the pub, salivating at the prospect of the delightful fare awaiting us. And there in the back garden were Adur and Arun, complemented by our own Chris who had Rung Them Bells and made his own way there. Retreating to the front of the pub to tell of this unexpected company however our delight was instantly shattered as my bicycle, eager to heap more trouble on us, had been in secret negotiation with the pub, and so The Man told us that although they were serving lunch they weren’t going to give us any as we hadn’t booked.

So we greeted this in a calm, measured and mature way by pointing at Adur and Arun and saying THEY GOT LUNCH AND THEY DIDN’T BOOK but apparently that was ok as they had arrived early, but we couldn’t have any.

Maureen then said she’d brought some sandwiches Just In Case, failed totally in her effort to Not Look Smug, and went to join Adur and Arun.

At this point my stomach intervened in the situation in a calm, measured, mature way by screaming I WANT LUNCH, I WANT LUNCH in my ear, so that further conversation became impossible. So I said I was going into Pulborough to buy some sandwiches for the Hungry Element, in a frantic effort to calm my stomach which was in no mood to be calmed.

But then Alan, who was feeling unnecessarily bad because he didn’t know we needed to book (neither did anyone else), and had been conducting High Level Negotiations, emerged excitedly to announce that it was All Alright, as Adur and Arun had told the pub we were coming, so effectively we were booked. You can imagine the relief.

Then The Man appeared with a long complicated speech I couldn’t quite hear saying they had to prioritise and plan something, and only had capacity for something, and something or other else. So I went on the sound of him and said “So we’re not getting lunch?’ and he said “Errr…. no”

At this point the calm, measured, mature messages from my stomach adjusted slightly to the new situation as it started to scream “I WANT LUNCH AND I’M GOING TO KILL SOMEONE”.

So to forestall this Undesirable Eventuality I repeated my intention of getting a supply of sandwiches from Pulborough, and Alan said he’d come with me.

So off we set. And 30 seconds later The Man appeared and said we could have up to two lunches after all. The Hungry Element said they tried to ring us but couldn’t get a signal. Hmmm.

Harvey had supplied helpful directions to Tesco, but his information had been drowned out by my stomach shouting KILL! KILL! KILL! in my ear, so we went to the corner shop I knew on the High street and randomly gathered up sandwiches and snacks. My bicycle actually became helpful at that point as I used my slightly disgustingly named Nelson Longflap saddle bag to fit it all in, and back we went to find Sam snoring contentedly beside the remains of his full roast lunch. I sat stuffing foodstuffs into my stomach which slowly became less lethal, enabling me to begin noticing my surroundings again and surveyed the scene of the atrocity. Several of the group were still alive it seemed, as we gobbled up most of the somewhat mediocre snacks, but Adur and Arun were by then about to leave and the Hungry Element had barely said hello.

Act 3

So the lunchtime break came to a ragged end, we said goodbye (in lieu of having said hello) to Adur and Arun, and set off up Waltham Park Road intending to stop at Bignor Villa for tea. By then my bike had regained its awful creaking sound, which I think was partly because I had adjusted it while going along, but in the opposite direction to the one suggested by Adam (I never could tell my left from my right), so worsening the gear problem. But frustrated at being forced to stay together it passed responsibility for achieving Total Collapse to my back, which I injured a while ago but which had been pretty ok while riding up to then, only hurting when we stopped. So now it started hurting while riding, and the combination of feeling more and more crippled while trying not to Strain my Chain hit me rather badly. We did stop outside the Bignor entrance, but then inexplicably carried on, which led my stomach onto minor versions of IF I DON’T GET TEA I’M GOING TO DIE but they were somewhat subdued by having had a lunch that was decent in quantity if not quality and by me having to concentrate on keeping up. It turned out however that a decision had been reached to stop at Graffham rather than Bignor, which would allow us to go up Cocking Hill rather than Duncton, which was indeed a lot less strain on my back and my bike.

So we sped down the last bit of Duncton, completely empty due to the road closure and went to Graffham shop, where everyone got take away coffees or teas but I was afforded Special Status for some reason and served mine in a china cup, showing what an important person I am. Chris, who had accidentally been riding in the vicinity for that brief section left us again to Ring More Bells (at Walberton), so the remaining Magnificent Seven, having overcome Backs, Chains and Zero Sum Lunches, heroically Defeating Adversity, together rode (magnificently) back via Cocking, only fragmenting at Lavant.

So many many thanks to all, especially Adam, Sam and Paul for keeping my distinctly ailing bike on the road for a lot longer than my bike had planned, and thereby allowing for a lovely 56 mile ride snatched from the jaws of something or other. As Lisa Minnelli wonderfully put it:

“Ring them bells, come on, come on, ring them bells
Make ’em sing, you’d better ring the bells
It’s such a happy thing to hear ’em ting a ling
You gotta swing them, ring them bells”

Bob