Note from Edwin. Although this was an unnoficial ride and there are no pictures due to rain this account is more than worth a read due to the excellent prose from Bob with his usual entertainment. Meanwhile 3 were out on the Official ride to West Marden diverted due to rain to Tangmere. Now on with the story from Bob –
Three of us, myself, Sam and Paul, met at the Cross on Sunday for a ride by mutual arrangement, not a Cycling UK ride, but met Edwin who was there on a Peddler Distribution Mission. As such we had no leader, but in fact Sam had worked out a route so we did follow him. He’d got it apparently from a 1923 (I think he said) CTC ride. It involved at first a journey the same as last week, up St. Paul’s road and down Brandy Hole Lane to Lavant, then along the Midhurst road, where it rained. And rained. And hailed. In fact it bucketed down. We turned off after Cocking as if we were going to Graffham, but went through Selham and Halfway Bridge to stop at Lodsworth shop for coffee and excellent mince pie (Sam), yoghurt flapjack (me) or pastie (Paul). The only problem was that there was nowhere to sit down, and the various wooden objects that might have been used as seats were wetter than we were due to aforementioned tsunami.
So victualed but only passingly rested we went on through Lickfold and thence up to Blackdown, which was a stiffish sort of hill, but really beautiful even in the cold wet weather, The woodland had a damp, wintery loveliness, and it was good to be on brand new roads (I’d never been there before). The weather had dried up pretty well by then, but some of the roads were virtual rivers. We got the Reward of All Our Efforts after the climb, shooting down Tennyson Lane (where the great man did apparently live, so the Charge of the Light Brigade was obviously composed on a bicycle down that stretch) and into Haslemere. Blimey, I thought, it’s nearly the winter solstice and we’ve come to bloody Haslemere. Actually it wasn’t as far as I’d have expected, only 26 miles up to that point, but the thought unnerved me.
The main road through Haslemere was unpleasant and busy, but Sam hustled us into a garage for coffee. Paul and I were mystified by this as we’d already had coffee and it was 12.15, and we were thinking….sort of…. lunchish. But Sam seemed determined (unusual that) and thought the coffee would be good at a Costa in the garage. In fact it was a Greggs, where we got things like sausage rolls or soup and so on that was a bit rubbish. And once again there was NOWHERE TO SIT DOWN. Attempting to sit on a pile of their logs for sale I knocked my mediocre tomato soup over and it covered a pair of someone’s gloves. Paul laughed heartily at Sam’s gloves being covered in tomato soup, then realised it was actually his own gloves and started Gesticulating Wildly. I went into the gents to wash them off but couldn’t dry them as the hot air thing wasn’t working. Fortunately they were waterproof and, as it turned out, soup proof. My sausage and bacon roll seemed to me to have been constructed without inconveniencing any pigs overmuch, and had some odd pink stuff in it. I chucked half of it in the bin. But the general joy and merriment of the occasion was capped when Paul noticed that on the other side of the road was a fully functioning CAFE, with things like SEATS, and HEATING, and probably FOOD THAT WASN’T MADE OF LEFTOVER SAWDUST.
However we didn’t complain in any way, we happy band of brothers, just MENTIONED IT IN A LOUD VOICE TO SAM FOR THE NEXT FOUR HOURS while we continued on the main road for a bit, but soon turned off to go through Linch and Redford, and thence down to Stedham. Sam’s amazing ability to find new and lovely routes I think is a result of the Geographical bits of his brain expanding into the bits that would normally sort out mealtimes, food intake and such like, as he started wondering whether we wanted to stop at the pub for lunch, when it was gone 2 by this time, due to get dark in not much more than an hour, and our stomachs were full of sawdust. So anyway we thanked him for the thought but went to the garden centre cafe, where we got their excellent cakes (in my case a particularly delicious chocolate cheesecake with cream and… well, I won’t go on about it).
We had much debate about the rest of the route, Sam wanted to take Turkey Island, but being lazy and a bit knackered I favoured Cocking, which Paul did as well. So that’s where we went, through Didling etc and a few flooded roads. Paul and Sam turned off to go back down Two Barns Lane, and I went home.
A really lovely ride, new territory for me. My mileage was 53, Sam’s was 54, and we did get back before it was properly dark. Smashing.