Sunday 24 February. Ride to Rotherhill Nursery, Stedham

Seven met at the Cross on a sunny but still chilly morning. I as ride leader was joined by Sam, Paul, Mike, Bob, Michael and Maureen. Expectations were of rapidly rising temperatures in the forecast sunshine. I decided to use a route less ridden, which saw us head east out of Chichester, a quick ascent of Sculpture hill, picking up the Duncton Hill road at the East Dean junction for a rapid descent. The A285 wasn’t too busy at the relatively early hour but I used the first opportunity to turn off and take the group through Seaford College, which was totally empty, being half term. Elevenses were taken at the Graffham village store- by now it was positively warm and it was a struggle to get going again!

Our scheduled lunch stop was Gartons café, Midhurst but the unseasonal warmth was bringing people out, so we pushed on an extra three miles to the much quieter cafe at Rotherhill nursery near Stedham. The single cashier/waitress /table clearer warned us that it might be a long wait but she was very efficient and anyway. it’s a comfortable place to sit and chat. Chris had joined us by now, making eight on the ride.

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Keeping with the theme of the road less ridden, the return journey saw us cycle to Elsted, before ascending the Downs at Turkey Island, using the aptly named Hill Lane. This gave Sam and Maureen the opportunity to ‘unleash the amps’, both flying up the very steep lane at unfeasible speeds!

After the pedal powered part of the peloton had recovered their breath, we used the NT road through Updyke. This is now very poor quality in places but still a useful alternative to the fast B road. Final tea stop was a very leisurely one at the Compton village stores. By now it felt like a summer’s day in the sunshine.

On the return Mike and Chris choose a more direct route, whilst the rest of us turned right at West Stoke, returning to Chichester about 3.30pm.

Return mileage to the Cross was 45 miles

Russell

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Saturday 23 February. Ride from Chichester Library to West Dean Gardens Café

The day dawned unusually sunny and warm for the time of year and, as a consequence, a record 20 cyclists gathered at Chichester Library for a ride to West Dean Gardens Café.  Interestingly, the same February ride in 2018 only attracted 7 cyclists, as it was extremely cold at the time, with the ‘Beast From The East’ approaching the UK.

 We left the library and headed west towards Westgate.  Before the railway, we took a right hand turn to go along Centurion Way.  We carried on along the cyclepath, using the new extension which brought us out in West Dean opposite The Dean pub.  We then used the pavement to do the final part of the journey to West Dean Gardens.

The café was (not unexpectedly) busy; however, we managed to crowd round 2 tables outside and enjoyed basking in the warm sun.  Reluctant to leave our suntrap, we stayed at the café for over an hour, until the sun had moved away from us and some of the cyclists started to mention that they wanted to get home in time to watch the England v Wales rugby match.

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We took the same route back along Centurion Way and arrived back in Chichester at approximately 4.30 pm.

Philippa

Sunday 17th February Ride to The Harrow Inn Steep Nr Petersfield (Long Ride)

Four met at the Cross for today’s cycle to the Harrow Inn, Steep. I was leading and was joined by Sam, Paul and Mike. I had already arranged that we would meet Jeff at Rowlands Castle, so that was our elevenses stop. Bumblebee Café was still quiet at 10.00am, so we beat the rush. On leaving the café, it was soon evident that it was going to be an unseasonably warm day, making the ride through Finchdean and onto Buriton almost surreal for mid February! Sam commented that ‘it was like a dream’.

There were hoards of other cyclists out enjoying the conditions.

Petersfield was unusually quiet, so despite our gentle pace we arrived at the Harrow Inn before opening time, along with half a dozen motorists and a few walkers. We found a garden table in the sun and relaxed until the pub door bolts were pulled.

Sam boldly choose their famous Ham and Pea soup, whereas Paul and myself settled for the beef sandwich. As usual, the food was succulent and they certainly don’t stint on the portion size!

By now the pub was quite busy, about 10 mountain bikers had turned up and plenty of motorists. Post lunch the sky was clouding over and a SW wind getting up, so it was a fairly direct ride back using the Petersfield /QE2 cycle path.

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We dropped Jeff back at Rowlands Castle, Mike and myself headed back to Chichester whilst Sam and Paul enjoyed a final coffee of the day.

A very pleasant day out, temperatures maxed at 12C around midday but it felt warmer. Return mileage was 46.

Russell

Sunday 17 February. Short Ride to the Boulevard Cafe, East Wittering

The weather today was dry and mild for the time of year at 10C with spells of sun and cloud but staying dry.

Eight keen cyclists set out from the Cross at 10.00am for the easy ride to Wittering: Arthur “the leader”, Lynn, Graham, Tony, Maureen, Bob, Michael and a potential new member, Steve.

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We headed for coffee at the Chichester Yacht Club Marina and gave Graham the chance to fix his puncture. Following morning coffee we cycled on for lunch at The Boulevard Cafe in Wittering. The food at the cafe was delicious and I recommend the toasted haloumi wrap. There was a final optional coffee stop at Fishbourne Roman Palace cafe on the way home

Michael

Sunday 10 February, Stedham diverted to Rowlands Castle

It was a cool day with spells of rain including at the start time. Despite this 3 still turned up. Paul, Bob & Myself

En route to Compton for elevenses the rain eased. However the Café was closed due to staff shortage. We decided to go to Horndean instead. En route the rain started again so we diverted at Idsworth to Rowlands Castle and the Bumblebee Cafe where Bob caught us in a multiple selfie.

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We then returned directly home giving up on going to Stedham . Distance from and back to Chichester was approx. 21 miles. At Chichester the rain stopped & it became a nice afternoon!!

Sam Roberts with some padding out by Edwin