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.

Sam

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.

 

END

Michael

Sunday 13th September Ride to Kirdford

Four Out.

Paul, Michael, Robert & Myself.

Singleton, Cocking, Heyshott, Graffam(Coffee)

Seaford College, Sutton, Bury, Houghton(Breakfast),

 

Pulborough, Garden Centre (No lunch) 11.55AM. Fittleworth, Bedham hill, Kirdford (Coffee: Lunch!),

North Chapel, Lurgashall, Lodsworth, Selham, Cowdary Polo, Heyshott, Cocking(Ice cream) Home.

72Miles Back in Chi 4.00PM . Max:43.5MPH down Cocking. Av: 13.1. MPH. Climbing : 4159’-00 Max Gradient: 20% Bignor Mill Hill

Michael has some pretty pics!!

Sam

Sunday 6th September Ride to West Liss

Five met at Chichester Cross for one of the trial 8am ride starts, destination West Liss. Sam as leader being joined by Paul, Russell, Adam and Mark, who was joining his first group ride in six months. The group took the usual route out to Rowlands Castle before continuing at a good pace via Ditcham, where Mark bade farewell to make his own way back, before stopping at  Durleighmarsh Tea rooms for a very early elevenses. A leisurely stop was enjoyed in warm autumn sunshine.
Continuing the ride it was a short fast cycle along the A272 to Roegate, up the long hill and onto West Liss, arriving at the intended destination, The Spread Eagle Inn, much too early for lunch. A quick conflab followed and we took the Hawkley road, turning off to pass through Steep Marsh and Steep before stopping for lunch at Cupacheenos in West Meon. As usual the outdoor seating was full of cyclists but we managed to bag the vacant table in the conservatory, enjoying a pleasant 45 minute stop.
The afternoon route home, again taken at a good pace ( yes, that was me hanging off the back!) saw us climb Old Winchester Hill, pass Mercury Park and take the long descent to Hinton Manor, pausing at Rowlands Castle for afternoon tea.
We arrived back in Chichester just before 4pm after a very enjoyable day
out , 67 miles Cross to Cross.
 
Russell

Sunday 6 September Ride to The Boulevard Café, East Wittering

Arthur was the leader on this Ride and he was joined at 10.00 at Chichester Cross by Lynn, Graham, Bill, Lawrence Dooley a newcomer to the area and myself (Edwin)

We headed out on the usual route on West Street and then picking up  Appledram Lane towards Dell Quay before turning off on the Salterns Way to Chichester Yacht Club. We stopped off for elevenses at The Beach House Café. We were lucky to avoid having to use the App to order by using an outside Caravan which does hot drinks and seemed to be open only when it is busy.

After elevenses I left the group and headed home via Hunston and completed 19 miles includingthe  ride to the start. The others continued via Birdham Pool and Birdham to the lunch stop at East Wittering.

Edwin

Sunday 30 August Ride to the Foresters Arms Kirdford

Just two of us formed the select party for a ride to the Forester’s Arms at Kirdford last Sunday, Maureen and myself (Bob) leading. Actually we were joined briefly by Chris, who was going Bell Chiming (a Pandemic version of bell ringing) at Walberton, so rode with us briefly at the start. There was a pretty stiff wind, that seemed to be of that type which is against you whichever way you go. I was also struggling a bit with a damaged bike, having fallen over with it near Madehurst during the thunderstorm the previous Friday, which had left something rubbing against a wheel, but I couldn’t find what.

Nevertheless we ventured down the Oving Road the usual way to Walberton, where we stopped while I made a more sustained attempt at bicycle repair, involving haphazard waggling things about in the hope of getting the bike back to normal. We were instantly joined by a crowd of ladies jogging, who were Maureen’s running companions, so my increasingly desperate and aimless bike mending activities provided a space for them to catch up with each other.

We left to go up to Madehurst, and although I had no idea which of my random pushes and pulls had done it, the wheel was no longer catching, which made me feel like Bike Mechanic of the Year, so I fully intend to patronise the next person with mechanical trouble on a ride by looking Wise, Knowledgeable and Slightly Judgemental and commenting “Hmmmm, looks to me like you haven’t been Waggling Things About enough!” while nodding sagely. Probably while smoking a pipe.

It was nice going up Madehurst Hill without either a rubbing wheel or a thunderstorm going on, but we stopped at the top for a drink and were instantly engulfed by another group of ladies jogging, who all knew Maureen from running together, and gathered round her for a chat. By this time several things had become clear, namely:

  Maureen knows everyone in Sussex.

    She goes running with most of them.

    The Friends of Maureen go about in packs and were loitering in strategic places to spring out at us when we stopped.

The purpose of this I couldn’t tell, but You Can Never Be Too Careful. They claimed to be lost (a likely story), so I went along with this pretence and supplied directions from the map on my phone to Slindon via footpaths, and when they were distracted led us in a getaway. I hardly stopped at Whiteways for fear of being surrounded again, instead shooting down Houghton Hill to reach the Bridge Inn cafe safely, where I indulged in a Breakfast Bap to celebrate my cleverness and Maureen chatted about Covid arrangements in supermarkets to the young man who served us, the conversation reaching such vigour that I began to wonder if he had been recruited to the august circle of the Friends of Maureen, and was thus destined to hide behind the palm trees before leaping out at unsuspecting customers.

Despite this alarming possibility we left the cafe unmolested, and we continued towards Wiggonholt, with only one unnerving moment when Maureen cheerily greeted a lady runner near Greatham, although though I didn’t actually see the rest of the group who were undoubtedly hiding behind a hedge waiting to pounce. We thus turned off to West Chiltington, and then left up through Adversane. The combination of Advanced Bicycle Engineering and breakfast bap had meant we were slightly delayed, so to make sure we got to the pub at the time I’d booked a table I continued on the main road to Wisborough Green instead of the less trafficy route via the Bat and Ball, and then down the Kirdford Road to the Forester’s Arms.

There we had a pretty decent lunch, in the garden rather than the table I had booked. I can recommend their soup, and the chips ordered by Maureen but largely eaten by me. They were well organised á la Covid and quite busy. When we went to go, just as we were gathering ourselves to ride off, Chris arrived again; his Bell Chiming complete he had called in before going to lunch in the hope of catching us to say hello, and indeed had so caught us.

Walberton’s bells had been rung again, albeit it a more mechanical than proper manner. And the slight delay chatting to Chris was EXTREMELY fortuitous, as it SAVED THE DAY for me. Maureen had mentioned when we got to the Bridge cafe at Houghton that she had made further advances on her Lingerie Carriage System detailed in the 12th March blog, and identified a pocket for her credit card. I was relieved therefore that I hadn’t actually got round to adopting her Mark 1 System by wearing a bra for Transportation of Portable Equipment, as I already used the Pocket System, so thought I’d stolen a march on her there. But it turned out I might have been better off with a bra, as I’d dropped my wallet somewhere, and only the delay talking to Chris allowed time for the bar lady, plus the kind chap who had found it, to emerge from the pub waving said wallet. I had stuffed it in a ordinary, rather than zip, pocket after paying and it had obviously dropped out. I thanked the kind fellow effusively, though in a Socially Distant manner of course.

So leaving Chris, but not leaving my wallet, we returned the usual way down to Duncton, where Maureen switched her battery to Zoom and I caught her up eventually, then we parted company at the turning off to East Dean which I took but where Maureen carried on. I came back over the hill from Charlton to the racecourse, and through Lavant, which my spellchecker has just changed to Levantine thus adding to the mysterious glamour already earned by the VR postbox in that unfathomably strange settlement.

56 miles on my clock for a lovely ride, thank you Maureen (with walk-on parts played by The Friends of Maureen).

Bob

Sunday 23rd August Ride to Four Marks

Six met at the Cross on a dull but warm morning for the long ride scheduled to the Hawkley Inn, Hawkley near Steep.Long ride regulars Sam, Paul and Bob were joined by Alan and Chris, with myself leading. The forecast was dull and windy all day, with the added bonus of a high risk of heavy rain around 1pm. With this in mind I had a Plan B route ready, which would lunch at Garthowen Garden centre in Four Marks, where it would be much easier to get out of the rain.

The outward route saw us go via Rowlands Castle, Horndean, Hinton Manor, Hambledon, Mercury Park ( my offer to stop for coffee at the Sustainability centre voted down) before finally stopping for elevenses at Cupacheeno , West Meon. We arrived just in time , being allotted a vacant table in the still quiet courtyard. As usual the food and service was very good and the cafes popularity reflected in the 30 or so cyclists that turned up soon after us!

Post coffee we continued on a winding route on minor lanes  towards Ropley Dean before heading to Ropley on a road even Sam hadn’t used before. At this point Chris (our tame bell ringer) regaled us with tales of  bellringing in the vicinity and the sad demise of the church at Ropley, burnt down but not yet rebuilt. Luckily Bob (our tame ‘interesting’ post box collector) didn’t know the area, so no ‘you really must see this victorian post box’ diversions prevented us from arriving at the Garden Centre ahead of the forecast rain.

It was quite busy in the cafe, so we opted to sit outside at tables under the parasols. At almost precisely 1pm the heavens opened, so unsurprisingly we were the only ones outside. Lunch was generally pretty good, the soup of the day was excellent as we stretched lunch out to 2pm when the rain was forecast to stop. And it did – these rain radar apps really are useful!

Return was on small country lanes through to Newton Valence , Hawkley (which paid us back with a puncture for Alan), Steep Marsh and a quick stop in Petersfield for afternoon coffee. It was then Buriton, Rowlands Castle, Westbourne back to Chichester, enlivened by another puncture ( Paul this time)

A very enjoyable day out. Total 70 miles with 4500ft ascent.

Russell

Sunday 16th August Ride to Cocking

Four intrepid souls set out from Chichester Cross at 9.00am today: Alan, Harvey, Robert and Michael. We headed out to West Ashling and Funtington and on to Compton, South and West Harting, before stopping at Durleighmarsh Farm Cafe for cakes, hot chocolate and Indian Chai.

1. Durleighmarsg

The next part of the battle plan looked simple on paper: head to Cocking for lunch via Rogate, Stedham and Didling, then in to Bepton and Cocking. Suffice to say, we did arrive in Cocking after putting the World to rights in Alistair Campbell; the last 12 months of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales – who we all agree was ‘in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong man!’; we devised our own re-construction plan for post war Iraq following the BBC2 groundbreaking series: ‘Once upon a time in Iraq’; and we all had a good moan about the cost of eye tests and the expense of purchasing a new pair of spectacles.

On the way to Cocking we stopped to admire the German POW’s grave and the plague pit in Bepton Churchyard.

3.BeptonChurch

2.Graves

Lunch was well worth waiting for: pepper and feta soup and bread rolls in the community run pub in Cocking.

4.CockingLunch

The ride home was a moist affair, cycling up over Cocking Hill and Charlton Hill and then down Sculpture Hill in the rain; and then being exposed to the elements cycling across Tangmere airfield. We all had great fun and clocked up to 53 plus miles each.

Michael