Four of us met at the Cross last Sunday (15th Sept) for the long ride to Dundrige. Actually six of us met, as we were joined briefly by Chris on his way to bell ringing, and Edwin giving out Peddler copies and facing a long wait for the short ride. Those embarking on the long ride Sam (leading), me (Bob), Paul and Roger, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
So Sam took us through Westbourne to Rowlands Castle, where we turned right before the bridge to go through Finchdean and up New Barn Lane to the hilltop by the Queen Elizabeth Park above Buriton. There Roger began feeling the strain rather: he had returned from cycling in France on the previous night’s ferry, and the lack of sleep caught up with him. So he sadly left us to find a quiet spot to have a kip before returning, while Paul, Sam and I continued to East Meon.
As we approached the village, the road had a “Road Closed” sign up. Of course this meant nothing to a stalwart group such as the Bognor and Chichester CTC, so we carried on down it, finding near the end that the road was indeed impressively blocked. A digger had dug a large hole to get to some pipes on one side of the narrow road between high banks and dumped the wet chalk on the other side. Paul led the way in clambering with his bike over the chalk, and helped Sam and I do the same. The chalk pile looked much the same afterwards, but I couldn’t understand why as most of it was on our shoes and tyres.
we spent a lot of time with sticks etc afterwards and I found a spot to walk about a bit in the River Meon. Fortunately being hot and dry most of the chalk fell off after a while. We had coffee and flapjacks at the village shop perched on their windowsill, wondering why they didn’t capitalise on the demand from cyclists more than they seem to: several passed us even while we sat there. Then we turned left and up a long hill to Teglease Down I hadn’t been up before, that formed a very direct route, then turned right to go through Droxford, up the hill and then a long satisfying downhill (Reward For All Our Efforts) stretch down Dundridge Lane to the Hampshire Bowman, who served their usual satisfying food in the now very hot sunshine. Sam’s machine claimed it was 30 degrees, though I think it was exaggerating for attention..
After we went on over Damson Hill and, I was pleased to see, Cut Throat Lane, and back under the Meon Valley Trail and through Soberton Heath to Newtown and thence to Hambledon, where we stopped again for an ice cream at the Old Forge.
I was reluctant to try the steep hill through the village, so we took the alternative route up through the old estate, down Rushmere Lane and Crossways and then up the hill to Catherington. But turning off as usual after Horndean towards Rowlands Castle I got a puncture. This was Sam’s fault as that morning he’d asked me about my tyres and I’d said I didn’t change them as the back wheel arrangement was an unusual one invented by Reg at Fishbourne (combination of hub and derailleur set up) so I just used fairly puncture proof tyres to avoid having to take the back wheel off. The puncture, of course, was in the back wheel.
Then I found I didn’t have my spanner on me, which I always carry so obviously had been removed by a poltergeist the previous evening, though Paul and Sam made comments mystifyingly implying it was my fault. Sam however managed to get the inner tube out without removing the wheel, we found the leak, and with a combination of my patches and Paul’s cement mended it. We got the Impossible Tyre back on with my Koolstop tool which Edwin had recommended to me ages ago (he also wrote a piece in the Peddler a while back); first time I’d used it and worked excellently.
Sam by this time had got himself wound up into Totally Obnoxious Mode (or TOM as it’s known to anthropologists), all the more so as when we arrived at Rowlands Castle the Beehive was closing. I did buy them both a coffee from the shop opposite as a thank you and Sam calmed down briefly before Paul and I wound him up again with Sensible Political Discourse (or SPD as it’s known to anthropologists). So we rode back the usual way through Westbourne with Sam shouting out “ ******* MARXISTS” to entertain passers by.
And it was a really, really lovely day out actually, the combination of excellent weather, good company, wonderful route over some invigorating hills, Holes in The Road, good lunch, ice cream, a puncture, TOM mode and Marxism making a potent and delicious mixture. Thanks to Sam for the excellent route and puncture mending experience and Paul for his cement and political good sense. My mileage was about 60 (my computer wasn’t working between The Puncture and Rowlands Castle where Sam got it working again).