Well, just what has happened to our weather? I made my way over to the Cross not really expecting to see anyone else mad enough to come out in the 30-40 mph westerly winds with a side order of heavy rain forecast for midday. However,Sam was as usual waiting there with his coffee and we were soon joined by Paul, so three out!
Our scheduled destination, the Harrow Inn at Steep, doesn’t really have much in the way of indoor seating, especially if you don’t want to be roasted by the open fire (not ideal for encouraging post lunch cycling) and anyway, it seemed a long way in the conditions! So one quick planning meeting later and it was off to Rowlands Castle for elevenses and to undertake a reassessment of lunch destination from there.
I think we now know how it feels to be in a wind testing tunnel – we barely made double figures mph against the headwind and the few times that it was a cross wind were ‘interesting’ to say the least……… The roads were very wet in places and the ford at Rowlands Castle was in full spate showing the effects of the week’s almost constant rain, Not surprisingly there were very few other cyclists out and about!
After a very pleasant break at Bumblebee Café, definitely a favourite for the welcome and food, I consulted my rain forecast oracle. It predicted heavy rain in about 45 minutes. This was enough for me to turn tail and enjoy a rapid wind assisted blast back to Chichester, leaving Sam and Paul to ride up through Idsworth ( light rain) onto Compton (heavy rain) for a final stop before heading back themselves.
A very short 20 miles for me with the others managing 27 miles. Despite the conditions it was strangely satisfying to have got out on a quite vile day!
Fourteen cyclists set out from Bognor Library at High Noon on a quest to reach Rowlands Castle and arrive home before sundown. Michael led the ride and was ably assisted by Steve Woods, who formed the rearguard (otherwise known as the Highland Division). We made slow progress to Chichester partly due to the overgrown cyclepath. The clouds gathered over Chichester, but the sun soon came out and shone for the rest of the ride.
We soon left Chichester behind and travelled through Fishbourne and Woodmancote before riding through Westbourne and on to Rowlands Castle. Everyone was impressed by the quality of the food and the warm welcome we received at the Bumblebee Cafe.
Following the cafe stop, 12 of us left Rowlands Castle and prepared ourselves for the ascent of Idsworth Hill. Lucy was the heroine of the climb up Idsworth and she just kept climbing with great determination. After a photo call on the summit of Idsworth
We all freewheeled down into Compton and on to West Marden and Walderton. The last climb of the day was the ascent from Funtington to West Stoke past the smelly pig farm. We all had great fun riding down Centurion Way; and new member Alan was in his element. We all cycled back to Bognor in high spirits in glorious sunshine, but with heavy legs and great memories. Follows is the route of the day