Easter Sunday Bike ride

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!

Happy Easter to you all.


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Sunday 20 December Ride To Petersfield

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.

Michael Eastham

Sunday 13th December, Today’s Mission Impossible

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” 

Sam Roberts

Editors Note This is what happens to Riders who ignore the cancellation of a Ride due to adverse weather!!

Long ride to West Meon, Sunday 6th December

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.


Sunday 6 December Short Ride to Blossoms Café Stansted

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.


Saturday Ride from Chichester Library to Wendy’s Cafe, Bosham Walk Saturday 5th December 2020

For the first Cycling UK ride following the second lockdown of the year, a small group of three cyclists gathered at Chichester Library for a ride to Wendy’s Cafe in Bosham Walk: Philippa Neville (leading), MaureenFlint and Ray Savage.  The weather was cloudy and chilly but, initially, dry.

The group set off and made their way towards West Street and Westgate.  Crossing over the roundabout at Westgate, they continued down towards the footbridge over the level crossing, to take them into Fishbourne Road East.  The route then continued under the A27 and along the cycle path past Fishbourne Roman Palace and soon emerging onto the A259.  A left turn was then taken down Old Park Lane providing much relief from the busy traffic.

At the first t-junction, the group turned left to go down Hoe Lane in a southerly direction.  The road then bent round to the west to change into Smugglers Lane and north, changing into Lower Hone Lane.  The group reached Shore Road just in time before High Tide obscured their way.  Further along, everyone was greeted with the magnificent view across the water to the village of Bosham.

The route continued along Shore Road towards Bosham Quay.  The water covered the road at this point, so everyone was forced to take instead the higher level footpath, walking the bikes as pedestrians approached.Bosham Walk was just a short distance from this point, and the group arrived at the cafe at approximately 2.15 pm where they met Roy Wasdell, who had cycled up from Emsworth.  


Due to the Covid restrictions, the group was forced to buy takeaways and sit outside in the cold!  Whilst sitting there, the rain started to come down and gradually got heavier and heavier.  By the time everyone was ready to get back on their bikes, the rain had become torrential!

Needless to say, the route back to Chichester was as direct and quick as possible – straight along the A259 cycle path back to Chichester!  The time of arrival back in town was approximately 3.30 pm.


Sunday 1 November Ride to Hambledon

The ride today was cancelled due to high winds and rain in the forecast. However the terrible trio went out anyway on a ride unofficially. This was Sam, Paul and Bob. There was very high wind but the rain was much less than forecast. The group went to first Rowlands Castle for a breakfast? Stop and then an elevenses stop at East Meon

Lunch was at The Old Forge Café, Hambledon. Sam was uncharastically slower than usual on some downhill’s due to slippery leaves on the road. The return was via Buriton Hill with drizzle gathering by nearer Chichester.

Mileage was 50 with maximum downhill speed 30.4 and a wind impeded average speed 0f 11.8. Climbing for the day was 2500 feet.


Sunday 25 October Ride to try to get to Petersfield

Sam (leader) Bob and Russell braved the wind and rain today heading for Petersfield. The day was one of scattered blustery heavy showers. En route to Rowlands Castle the first downpour hit and the group took shelter in the Bumblebee Café.

Russell calculated from the rainfall showing on his weather app that they might just beat the next downpour back to Chichester. The ride was therefore cut short just getting back in time.

From Info supplied by Sam

Sunday 11 October Today’s Bike Ride to Coldwaltham

Five brave souls: Adam, Bob, Alan, Maureen and Michael ventured out from Chichester Cross at 9.00am today and cycled out of the City along Centurion Way and on through Lavant and Binderton, to enjoy the Autumn sunshine and the mellow fruitfulness. We were all struck by the autumnal shades of the leaves in the trees above West Dean; the College itself is no longer shrouded in scaffolding and we could enjoy views of the largest flint-built structure in Britain. The American philanthropist who bought the West Dean Estate in the early years of the twentieth century ensured that the road from Chichester to Midhurst was moved away from his house – out of sight, out of mind. Michael led the hardy group up over Cocking Hill and on through the country lanes covered with sweet chestnuts to Graffham Village Store, for morning coffee and bakewell tart.

The main topic for conversation at Graffham was the face that nobody appeared to collect anything anymore. Stamp collecting (philately) is no longer seen as a noble hobby – penny blacks and first day issues have flooded the market and are worthless. Bob told us that he could not sell a Family bible that dated to the year 1577 as nobody was interested in buying it. The curators of Amberley Museum have stopped accepting antique woodworking tools as they have been overwhelmed and have no space to accommodate any more. Modern houses are being built with only limited storage space and people have nowhere to store collectables these days; and we appear to live in a ‘throwaway society’.

After the coffee break we headed out at a leisurely pace along the lanes that run through Ambersham, Heyshott and Graffham Commons. The sun came out and the country lanes were bathed in sunshine. We cycled past the ranks of birdwatchers at Burton Pond and Burton Mill, where flour has started to be produced again; and on past Burton Park, the former home of the Courthauld Family which has been converted into apartments for retired City Folk with Bentleys, Aston Martins and E-type Jaguars. Adam spotted a deer spralled out across a trackway 200 metres away and we all saw buzzards circling in the skies overhead.

Before long, we arrived at The Labouring Man in Coldwaltham for a hearty lunch of sausage and onion sandwiches, fresh salmon and cream cheese sandwiches and chips.  The staff at The Labouring Man were absolutely charming with us and they were keen to tell us that they had spent Covid-19 Lockdown transforming the backyard into the delightful pub garden, which also functioned as a sun trap.

The lunchtime discussion was a masterclass in furniture making led by Bob and Alan, both of whom are keen and active furniture makers. Bob confessed to owning and using a plane that was made by J Symes of London between 1780 and 1805; and that his favourite piece of furniture is a table made of Elm which had a life of its own for 12 months when it was drying in the garden and would warp when the weather changed. We could have stayed at The Labouring Man all afternoon, but decided to ride on through Rackham and along the outskirts of Parham House Estate and on to Amberley, which was full of people enjoying the October sunshine.

We parted company with Bob at the banks of the River Arun in Houghton as he resolved to ascend the Khyber Pass and make his way home to Chichester via Burpham and Arundel. Michael led Alan, Maureen and Adam up Houghton Hill and down the country lanes through Madehurst and on to Slinden and Walberton. We parted company with Adam at Walberton and carried on home via Barnham, Westergate and Colworth.

The average speed on today’s ride was 11.9 miles an hour, we gained 2,551 feet in height and our maximum speed (down Cocking Hill) was 41.6 miles per hour. From door to door we covered 52 miles.

Michael Eastham

Sunday 27th September Ride to Midhurst

The ‘noble six’ rode out from Chichester Cross at 8.00am this morning in an eight-degree centigrade windchill towards Midhurst, via Alfred Lord Tennyson’s House, Aldworth on Black Down. Sam, Adam, Alan, Maureen, Bob and our intrepid leader, Michael ventured off up Centurion Way and out past Lavant School and Stables and on to the A286 past Anthony Eden’s former home “Old Binders” in Binderton and on through West Dean and Singleton and over Cocking Hill. The Team sped down through Cocking and turned right onto Bex Lane and rode up and down the country lanes to Graffham Village Store for morning coffee. During the coffee stop we were entertained by Sam’s stories about his taxi days, driving Charlie Watts (from the Rolling Stones) home from the Night Club; the time that Sam made an incredible retracting staircase into the basement of Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor’s house for his most challenging client – Roger’s wife; and Alan’s story about Chris Evans ordering a pink Rolls Royce from the Chichester factory and donating it to Breast Cancer Relief; and the fact that Nick Mason from Pink Floyd lives in Dell Quay, owns a host of racing cars and rents them out to clients.

After this plethora of fabulous stories, the magical mystery tour moved on out towards Lickfold and Lodsworth, where EH Sheppard, the illustrator of the Winnie the Pooh books once lived; and Lodsworth was once the home of Ranulph Fiennes, who was known to set fireworks off around the village when film crews arrived and started filming.


The ‘noble six’ soon found themselves at the foot of Black Down, and the ascent began in earnest! It was tough going climbing up Quell Lane to the house called ‘Abesters’, which included a 21% ascent. We had all crunched our gears as far as they could go and were left relying on sheer mental strength to keep ascending. Sam and Alan reached the top first, followed by Michael, then Adam and Maureen; followed by Bob, who was obviously suffering, walking his bike the last few metres to the gates of ‘Abesters’. Sam told the assembled throng of very tired cyclists that there would be no more ascents up Black Down – we didn’t realise it at the time but Uncle Sam was being economical with the truth, but these little white lies were “to help Bob and Maureen!!!” After a jolly ride up and down the country lanes on Black Down, cycling past Tennyson’s former house at Aldworth, we started the long descent towards Midhurst, riding back through Lickfold, Lodsworth and Selham. Hearts dropped when Sam thought it would be a jolly jape to turn right in Lickfold and pretend to start to climb Bexley Hill; at which point Bob and Maureen threatened to mutiny, before ‘our illustrious leader’ put an end to such jollification!


We soon realised that Maureen was tired when, every time we stopped to allow a rider to catch us up, she would do her sleeping beauty impersonation draped over the handlebars. ‘Our illustrious leader’ soon realised that he needed all his wits about him when he was sent a cropper and joined the airborne division. Following this airborne interlude – which wasn’t half as impressive as Maureen’s airborne display on the A259 earlier in the summer – we all cycled on for lunch at Garton’s Cafe in Midhurst, where we found ourselves being served by Father Ted’s housekeeper, Mrs Doyle, and Sam soon entered into some blarney with this amazing woman, who ran the cafe as her personal fiefdom. During the lunch break we discussed the concreting over of Chichester and Arun with housing developments, and we considered whether it was worth starting a rebellion in an attempt to stop the housing building; the fact that there is a lack of cycleways in the two districts; and the discovery of a Roman camp or fort in Chichester.


After lunch, it was decided that we would cycle out along the country lanes to Bepton and Cocking and ride back over Cocking Hill, on to Singleton and Lavant, from where Sam and Bob took their separate ways to Chichester; and Michael, Alan, Adam and Maureen cycled to Bognor Regis and Felpham via Tangmere and Colworth.


The ‘noble six’ cycled 54.9 miles from Chichester, back to Chichester, climbed up to 3,724 feet, with an average speed of 11.9mph and a maximum speed of 44.5mph and the most recited quote of the day was “not another hill!!!” By mid-afternoon, the sun had come out and the temperature had risen to a balmy 16 degrees centigrade.