As an alternative to the 100 mile Ride 5 of us took part in a short ride to Selsey, Jeff the leader with Bea on Tandem, Maureen, Alan and myself Edwin.
We started off along Route 88 alongside the Chichester Canal to Hunston. The surface is very good but definitely could do with a lot of cutting back of the vegetation. At the end we stopped for coats as the only rain of the day came down, quite light and brief.
Then another cycle path to North Mundham and quite lanes south to Fisher. Then it was gravelled paths south to Sidlesham and a very narrow path towards the Visitor Centre where we squeezed past another group of 2 couples and their many children on bikes . We crossed the main Selsey Road to the Medmerry Cycle Path and stopped to divest coats and a picture.
We were glad of a local leader as we made our way along the Medmerry paths and then through the caravan park and local roads through Selsey to our lunch stop at The Boulevard Café, Selsey where we got one of the few outside tables.
For the way back Jeff took us on a different route through the caravan park and on to the Overlook viewpoint looking out over the entry to the Medmerry Managed realignment of the coastline.
Then it was more of the Medmerry paths to Ham Lane. At the end we split up with the main group headed back via Witterings and Salterns Way back to Chichester while I headed home direct to Pagham via Route 88.
Today’s ride was to Amberley via the off-road route known as the ‘Khyber Pass’. Well, that was what the leader and rides organiser Jeff had in mind, but Sam Bob and Paul had other ideas-NO OFFROAD as they had skinny tyres. They were to later regret that, however they were in the majority and the leader aims to please.
A few back streets navigated gave an almost traffic free ride to Edgecumbe’s for their superb coffee &sustenance and we were off by 10.30 to Arundel. We avoided the busy A27 roundabout by using the river path then up Parson’s hill to the Catholic Cathedral (more attractive inside) then down to the A284 for the climb to Whiteways. A bank holiday combined with lockdown staycation gave us a horrid ride with fast traffic passing too close for comfort. A choice had to be made whether to go outside the edge raised cat eyes and risk getting hit by a Maserati or inside and risk falling off the tarmac. I did a bit of both and came up last relieved I had made it. A fast descent on the Houghton Hill running with recent rain and overtaking traffic was just as unnerving as the uphill but with less effort. As we arrived at the Bridge Inn 30 mins before opening, tried the café across the busy road only to be told (very nicely and apologetically) they were full, so back across the busy road to the pub by which time it was near noon.
The pub garden was pleasant, but I had had enough of bank holiday traffic and I headed to Amberley Station and Bob agreed to lead back. Bob takes up the story …
Long ride to Amberley, episode 2.
Jeff had guided us to his choice of lunch destination in The Bridge Inn at Amberley despite being miffed that we became revolting over his planned route over the Khyber, but as a result of taking the quicker road route we were early at 11.30. He thought we might go to the cafe instead, but they were fully booked. He had found out that the garden tables at the Bridge were not bookable, but first-come-first-served. Well we were certainly first come, and the very friendly staff let us sit at a table and took our order, even though they couldn’t serve us till 12. At this point Jeff cheerfully announced he wasn’t staying for lunch but catching the 11.59. We pointed out that he could catch the 12.59, and that we were noted in the county as being Jolly Nice People, but despite agreeing with this he was adamant and scarpered. This placed me in a Conundrum of Principle. I had agreed with Jeff that I would lead the ride back so he could catch the train, but not that I would lead the ride over lunchtime, as I assumed our Official Leader would shoulder that responsibility. So under the terms of my contract I resolutely refused to offer any guidance over lunch, leaving Sam and Paul all at sea, and in consequence they chose silly things like ham and cheese baguettes, whereas I chose the Grown Up option of a prawn baguette and got covered from head to toe in pink sauce. I was satisfied that I had Made My Point, as I pushed a snorkel up through the pink tide to snatch a breath and dug a channel to take the rose coloured condiment down to the river which is now six inches deeper with a suspiciously blushing hue. This didn’t stop our Learned and Philosophical Discourse over lunch: even before Jeff skedaddled we had an argument about being Woke (Paul and I proud, Sam sniping and Jeff being tactful, possibly so he could make his getaway unimpeded), but Paul came up with a joke about knowing a transvestite who had a Wigan address (wig-and-a-dress; yes it was just as bad live), and we concluded our deliberations by discussing the route back. We had thought of returning along the bottom of the Downs past Bignor and going up Duncton, but this was revised to going further west to return up Cocking, which gave us a longer ride and a choice of tea stops; Graffham or the Post Office at Cocking, or even possibly Bignor where they do very nice ice cream.
Setting off back up to Houghton we were passed by Chris going the other way so he turned round to join us, just in time to hear a not very interesting tale about Galsworthy’s house at Bury (apparently built by the family of my work colleague, after someone burnt down the thatched cottage that had previously stood there by throwing a fag out of an upstairs window. Ooops.) Passing Bignor Villa the gates were still firmly shut, so we clearly weren’t going to be offered any Roman ice cream. Chris was only intending to ride with us a short way before turning back to go home, and he in fact left us at Sutton before we went down the steep hill as he sensibly thought climbing back up would be a Bad Plan, but it was nice to see him briefly.
We meanwhile continued to Barlavington, where we noted heavy looking rainclouds in the offing. We turned right at the hill, went down to the turning towards Seaford College, and started to get wet. We waited under a tree at the college for a bit,
but it seemed to be getting worse, and fairly tipped down as we tried for Graffham. We chose to stop there as at least they do have the covered veranda, and partook of tea and coffee with temperatures having plunged to 4 degrees, Paul in his shorts shivering like a …. thing that shivers. We contented ourselves with the thought that however bad the conditions, we were better off than Geraint Thomas after his crash in the Tour de Provence. But we viewed the obvious torrential rain over both Duncton and Cocking with a mixture of trepidation and heroic determination, steeling ourselves for the ordeal ahead, grimly resolved to face the onslaught with true British Grit.
“We’re going outside and we may be some time” we said to a lady drinking her tea.
But on we went, and I took us down the road directly opposite the shop as I wanted to see the VR postbox again. I’ve mentioned before that I have a postcard sent to my great aunt in 1912 that was probably posted there, but it really is a most interesting box. It was made by Smith and Hawkes of Birmingham, which dates it to before 1881, but the firm introduced a Number 2 (small) Improved design in 1861, with a door pull and the crown and cipher at the top. This box has no door pull, and the crown and cipher lower down than usual, leaving me to wonder whether it is one of the earliest rural wall boxes, thus possibly dated between 1858 and 1861.
Due to the weather Sam wanted to avoid the cart track that laughably gets called a road between Heyshott and Cocking, so we joined the Midhurst road further up and toiled up Cocking Hill. We were actually very lucky, it had more or less stopped raining, but they must have had a terrific downpour just before we arrived; Cocking hill was a river, and loads of debris had been washed part way down. At the top the fields surrounding were covered in what Sam called snow, but I think was hailstones that were thick enough to turn the land pretty white.
So the Heroic Trio, having battled freezing temperatures, monsoon like rain and Arctic snow/hail sped down the hill and split up at Lavant. 47 miles.
Today there were 4 people out on the long Ride and 6 on the short Ride. Harvey was the leader of the short ride and he was joined at the start at Chichester Cross by Maureen, Jean, Richard Smith a newcomer, myself (Edwin) and Alan.
It was decided at the start to make it a half day ride as the destination was quite close. Despite threats of showers in the forecast and threatening clouds nearby from time to time we steered clear of the rain save for a few spots.
Harvey led us via Westhampnett and the cyclepath cutting across to Tangmere. Then the path across the airfield and backroads to the Oving Straight. Then a minor road across to Woodgate and after a sort stretch on the A29 we took a path cutting across to the Wilkes Head , Eastergate and Church Lane round to pick up the Barnham Road.
We soon left this rather busy road to turn off onto a private estate to bypass Barnham. We then picked up Lake Lane to Yapton before taking Ford Lane to Edgcumbes Café which is not far from Ford. I got in first and as a crowd moved in I had to wait a while for everyone to join me round the back where it was initially fairly quiet.
We headed back via Yapton towards Middleton where various people peeled off en route. Mileages will have varied a lot but mine was 24 for the day.
There being more than 6 on the long ride on Sunday we effectively split into two groups, and four of us (Bob, Sam, Paul and Russell) met at The Cross at 8 for an Unofficial Long Ride ride to West Meon, where we might meet the Proper Long Ride.
So we started off with a glorious ride along the A259, pretty empty at 8.00 o a Sunday and the wind completely with us for pretty much the last time that day. We had the vague idea that we would stop briefly for victuals at Rowlands before going on to Petersfield, thence to Steep and down to the Meons from there. We actually didn’t do any of those things except Rowlands, where we stopped for far longer than we intended as the cafe was open (even though we got there before 9), and things like sausage baps avec fried egg were very tempting. Everywhere has got very organised about contact details so once we’d prised Sam’s name, rank and number out of him the service went smoothly. Unlike my back wheel when we went to go as it had sprung out of alignment , but fiddling about with spanners etc sorted it after a while.
And then we sped off to Finchdean, eager to see the VR postbox there, which I had found was made by Smith and Hawkes of Birmingham, who were the earliest manufacturers of wall boxes, making them between 1858 and 1881, so that the box is earlier than the VR box round the corner at Dean Lane End, which was made by W.T.Allen of London, who had the contract from 1881. Once this excitement had passed we continued up to Ditcham. We saw what looked like a buzzard briefly but I mostly missed it due to a combination of being in the middle of a widdle, followed by a rush to dig my binoculars out of my saddle bag, by which time it had vanished, leaving unresolved the question of whether it was a VR buzzard or a more recent model. The discomfort inherent in such a messily suspended intellectual adventure was dissipated only by wooshing down the zig zag road and into the Geographical Anomaly represented by Goose Green and Quebec occurring half a mile from each other. This, of course, created a Space-Time Dislocation resulting in a hitherto unknown coffee stop suddenly materialising in Nyewood. That posed quite a Conundrum for me as I was still full of a sausage and egg bap from Rowlands Castle, but they were offering a Venison Bap, of which I felt obliged to partake as they were clearly only a manifestation of unstable quantum electrical fields, and I might never have the chance of sampling it again. But those unstable quantum fields definitely came up trumps as it was smashing, even on top of aforementioned Beehive Bap, so we can only hope that the multidimensional transience rampant in the Nyewood Area results in a similar abnormality being Beamed Down in the future.
There was discussion over coffee of Next Steps, which I couldn’t quite hear so did the usual deaf thing of nodding along, but I did hear mention of Liss, which made sense as we were on the way to Liss. So we went on through Rogate, but by the time I had struggled up the hill past Roget Common the others were waiting at the turning which is Not To Liss, which confused me. Apparently we were now going to Milland, but close as we were to the recent Space Time Dislocation I thought it could have been much worse. So we whizzed down through Borden and up to Milland with a brief stop at the Community Cafe which allowed time for Russell to reassure us that even with the vaccine we are all doomed anyway due to India. Cheered by this thought we went south down the Roman Road, waved to the Romans waiting at the Roman Station, and somehow (I’m a little bit vague about precisely how this happened) ended up at Cocking.
And thence back to Chi. Nearly 50 miles on my clock, and a lovely ride, even though we went Completely Awry.
This is a write up of last Sunday’s bike ride to Petersfield:
“Oh, to be in England now that April’s there” (Robert Browning).
Six hardy souls set off from Chichester Cross on Easter Sunday with thoughts of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, heading out towards Petersfield. Sam, Bob, Ann, Alan, Robert and Michael pedalled their way through the windchill out along Clay Lane and on to West Ashling and Funtington, passed woodlands full of celandines, wood anemones, wild garlic and daffodils. As this was the first ride out since Christmas and the fact that the village stores and cafes were only providing take outs during this third lockdown, we decided to have limited numbers of stops, to keep our leg muscles warm to ensure we could climb over the South Downs.
On leaving Funtington, we started the gradual ascent towards Compton and the first real climb of the day up Idsworth Hill, with views out towards the lost village of Eckensfield one way and the English Channel the other. We experienced cloudless skies at the top of Idsworth and free wheeled down the hill towards St Hubert’s, but we didn’t have time to see the priceless wall paintings in the Church, we were all on a mission to ascend Buriton Hill. The Buriton Valley is a glorious place to ride through with the sun breaking through the Beech woods; and the climb to the Country Park is relatively gentle. We all made it to the top of Buriton Hill in good order and the descent was fast and furious, but the gravel and potholes at the bottom were deadly!
When we arrived at Petersfield, Bob was the first to break rank as he ventured out to seek a sandwich at the Cloisters Cafe, and he was quickly followed by Sam who was on the scent of a coffee at Caffe Nero. Michael thought – if we stop now, we will never climb over Ditcham Hill! The ascent of Ditcham starts as a hairpin bend, but soon levels off as you reach the farmhouse and begin to climb up to the lodge at Ditcham Park School. At the top of Ditcham we met clusters of jolly cyclists who were about to descend in different directions; and the metal detectorists were busy scanning the ploughed fields for treasure. On ascending Ditcham, we feasted on cereal bars, sandwiches and cookies before the thrilling descent.
Boys will be boys and at the foot of Ditcham we turned right …..! Chalton Hill is not one for the faint hearted, it is a short horror of a hill, but Ann kept up and showed the boys her mettle. We could not cycle into Rowlands Castle without climbing one more hill, the one with the trees on! We almost free wheeled into Netto at Rowlands Castle where Alan stocked up on mars bars; then we cycled back through Westbourne, Woodmancote, West Ashling, West Stoke, Lavant and on to Tangmere Airfield, and finishing at the Blue Brew pop up cafe on the Royal Oak car park in Bersted for Americanos, Chai Lattes and Hot Chocolates. Sheer bliss!
This is the write-up for today’s bike ride to Petersfield:
‘A cold coming we had of it.
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
(Journey of the Magi, by T.S. Elliott)
Four likely lads cycled out from Chichester Cross at 9.30am today seeking the bright lights, the beautiful people and the cafes serving delicious food in Petersfield. Bob, Sam, Paul and the leader, Michael pedalled out along Clay Lane to West Ashling and on to Funtington in a 6 degree wind chill. We soon passed the Neo-Classical mansion between Walderton and West Marden which was occupied by the Canadian Army in the Second World War; which was threatened with demolition after the war; was re-built and almost became a casino; but it is a private residence today. Sam was involved in the rebuilding of the mansion. We stopped at Compton Village Store for lashings of hot chocolate and marshmallows, scrambled eggs on toast and chocolate cake; and the main topics of conversation were the new E-bike by Ribble which houses the battery within the frame and is a give-away at £3,000; and the Sky Documentary: “Armstrong”, which was all about the drug taking and the aggressive manipulation of the Festina Team by Lance Armstrong. After the mid-morning stop we headed out over Idsworth Hill and climbed up over Buriton Hill, which must be one of the finest valley and hill rides in West Sussex. After admiring the fabulous view at the top of Buriton Hill, Paul led the group down into Petersfield.
We had lunch at The Cloisters Cafe, in Petersfield and we enjoyed the tomato and basil soup and the turkey and cranberry paninis. The lunchtime conversation included Sam’s experiences working at heights; his confrontation with the wife of the lead singer of Depeche Mode when he was constructing a mezzanine floor for her; and the engineering marvel that is the Forth Rail Bridge, which Sam manufactured rivets for.
After lunch, we climbed up over Ditcham Hill and cycled down passed St Hubert’s Church in Idsworth, which has some amazing wall paintings and was built in the 11th Century by Godwin of Wessex, the father of King Harold who died at the Battle of Hastings; and we cycled on through icy cold flood waters to Rowlands Castle. We could not cycle through Rowlands Castle and not stop for afternoon tea at the Bumblebee Cafe. We helped the staff at the cafe by finishing off the caramel shortbread. We talked about the miracle of the 3 day week; the fact that Delicate Sound of Thunder is probably Pink Floyds greatest live performance; and the dynamic creativity in popular music, art, fashion, films and photography that was 1960s London, which was depicted in “My Generation which was televised on BBC2 at 9.20pm on Saturday night.
After tea, we cycled on home through Westbourne, Woodmancote, Fishbourne and Chichester. The entire circuit measured 41 miles from the Cross; we gained 2,013 feet in elevation and the maximum speed was 32.9 miles an hour.
Code: CTC Club ride to Gartons. Doesn’t Club ride mean more than One up to maximum 6?
A Failure due to adverse weather conditions. Aborted at Greenham School.
Great difficulty was encountered negotiating the banks of the Mississippi (known locally as the Ems Valley) to the point beyond Greenham School where all trace of a route north to South Harting via Chilgrove, Gone!! With no access to the banks. An executive decision was made at this point to abort the adventure. Forgotten to pack & wear Flippers and Snorkel & lost 2 bladed oar en route to Rowlands Castle!! However this was a human failure. To continue to persevere to lead an abnormal life!! No motor failures were encountered (different bike) to yesterday’s reconnoitre, and no punctures (The “Birtwell Gossamer” Durano dumped) and a Marathon plus fitted. Due to speedos going for a swim! ! Only total mileage recorded. 39 Miles Thank you for your company and look forward to our next “Triathlon”
Editors Note This is what happens to Riders who ignore the cancellation of a Ride due to adverse weather!!
Just four of us met at a pretty cold Cross at 9.00 on Sunday for the long ride to West Meon. Leader was meant to be Russell, but he sadly suffered a car puncture on the way, and as apparently modern cars don’t come with a spare wheel he had to wait for a breakdown van. Someone else had had to cancel so that left myself (Bob), Adam, Sam and Paul. Sam was suffering having been out cycling in the torrential rain the day before and didn’t know if he would go the whole way, so suggested I lead. That was fine but as soon as I said so he brightly suggested “shall we go to Arlesford?” The explanation for this, of course, was that if he’s the leader he can’t interfere with the planned route, so getting someone else to lead is the perfect solution, and cheered him up no end.
So we set off for West Meon as planned, intending to go via Rowlands Castle via Clay Lane and Westbourne as usual. But along West Ashling Rd Sam sprung a puncture in his back wheel, apparently the latest in a run of them. Perhaps it’s just me, my mind firmly on Marathon Pluses and the like, but it didn’t look that surprising, the tyre nice, smooth, gossamer thin and looking absolutely ready for riding on thin air, provided there wasn’t a wind. But it was soon mended and we continued to Rowlands and coffee at the Beehive. There we got in a muddle as we automatically went in to order as we had been doing during Son of Lockdown. Three of us got the message that we had to go outside and sit down to be served, but Sam had ordered and got his coffee at the counter which meant he wasn’t allowed to sit down, which he was surprisingly compliant about leading me to feel worried for his health. I had a bacon roll in case there wasn’t much available at West Meon, as there was a lot of cyclists about; I thought the West Meon cafe might get very crowded.
After that we went up via Finchdean to Buriton, and thence to East Meon and along the Meon Valley to West Meon, getting there about 12.30. There were a few other cyclists, though it wasn’t as crowded as I feared. But they weren’t in full gear yet after Son of Lockdown, and had run out of soup that I had been looking forward to, and sausages, so only bacon and egg sandwiches were left, but they were very good even though I didn’t really want two lots of bacon. Before we left, Peter from the Adur/Arun group turned up, and they had by then run out of bacon as well. He asked for ham but that was off, so I think he had a cheese sandwich.
We left to take the least objectionable route up the Downs, over the old railway and up Old Winchester Hill, then along the ridge towards Clanfield, turning left at Petersfield Lane. There Sam sprung another puncture, same wheel.
Adam used his long experience to examine the tyre, but couldn’t find anything lodged in it, just the myriad of holes where outside bodies had visited, Sam’s familiarity with the colander like surface reflected in his various comments of “ooo, haven’t seen that one before, that wasn’t there yesterday”. Again the puncture to my untutored eye seemed not very much of a surprise; completely unblemished by a tread and looking like it could easily have rivalled a three-ply Kleenex for thickness, the tyre looked as if taming winter roads would be as easy for it as paying the trombone. If there was nothing in the tyre I imagined it could only have been that the holes let stuff out as easily as in, a list of the road debris that might have entered needing to include shingle, dead rabbits, left over kerbstones, small bridges and the occasional roadside burger van. I thought it would be easier to list the things that we would be less likely to find in Sam’s tyres, prime among which would be “air”.
We stopped again at the Beehive for tea, the discussion over Sam’s punctures and associated matters continuing with close examination of the now burgeoning number of spent inner tubes.
Mediaeval scholars, it is said, would sometimes debate “How many angels can fit on the head of a needle?” Some say that this is a story invented to mock those theologians, but it seems that some speculation along those lines may have been part of academic dialogue, and while the answer could never be found beyond “an infinite number”, the question provoked a realisation of deeper meanings, a sense of the spiritual gulf between physical measurement and metaphysical contemplation.
In a direct descendent of this scholarly endeavour, we in the Philosophical Department of the Bognor and Chichester CTC developed our own version of this discourse in exploring the question: “How many holes can be found on the surface of Sam’s Inner Tubes?” In parallel with our forerunners of the middle ages, a precise answer can never be found beyond “an infinite number”, but the question provokes a change in the way of thinking, a fundamental shift to a new plane of consciousness. Suddenly new insights become manifest, and revelatory thoughts abound, such as “perhaps it would be a good idea to buy some new tyres that have a semblance of a tread and more puncture resistance than a desiccated tomato skin”.
What will come of this enlightenment? Only time will tell, and meanwhile we left for the last leg of our journey apprehensive about a possible Third Puncture along the way. But we were in luck! Just as we were starting out down Woodberry Lane what must have been a large bird of prey took a mighty dump on Paul. At least I think Paul said “luck” but that might not have been the exact word he used, encrusted as he was in a thick and slowly congealing layer of albatross poo, but the aforementioned excrement undoubtedly did the trick, and No More Punctures happened at all.
And so our Odyssey came to its triumphant close, after 51 miles, two punctures and a bucket load of ornithological whoopsie.
The maximum of 6 were out on this ride today. Arthur who was the leader plus Lynn, Maureen, Jean, Lawrence and myself Edwin.
We met at 10.00 at Chichester Cross next to Santa’s Grotto. The weather was dry but cold starting out at 2C and rising to the dizzy heights of 7C.
We headed out along West Street and on to the Cyclepath past Fishbourne Roman Palace. Then a stretch of the cyclepath beside the main road before turning off on back roads to Bosham. We stopped there at Wendy’s Café in the Arcade where there is a handy outside area.
Soon after elevenses I headed home and Jean did the same. Lynn headed home from Westbourne. This left just Arthur, Maureen and Lawrence to continue to Stansted. There they found Blossoms Café to be far too crowded so they made use of a coffee van near the car park.
On the return to Chichester the mileage for the day was 25. My mileage although cut short was also 25 after including the miles to get to and from home.