Sunday 15 March Ride to West Meon. Long Ride

Just four met at the Cross on a cool , breezy morning for the scheduled hilly ride to West Meon. I as leader was joined by Sam, Bob and Paul and it was a prompt start to attempt to coincide our lunch stop with the rain expected around midday. We followed the usual route out to Rowlands Castle ( the road still closed to motor vehicles due to flooding) before taking the golf links road onwards to Horndean and coffee at the very quiet garden centre.
On the ride we had noticed a much lower level of cars – a sign of the troubled times?After a fairly leisurely break, quite comically enhanced by a woman sitting on the adjacent table joining in all of our conversation and then offering advice on just about everything – we set off on my slightly alternative route to West Meon. I had already decided to incorporate a few more hills than usual , plus a few roads that we hadn’t used in recent years.
So after taking the usual route out of Horndean, using Five Heads Road and the pot holed descent of Roads Hill, we turned right onto the very quiet Hilton Manor Lane, before joining Mill Lane and the long climb to the Bat & Ball crossroads at Hambledon. Then it was another climb up Hyden Farm Lane, another climb past the Sustainability Centre before the long descent down Coombe Lane, past West Meon Fishery and onto Cupacheeno for lunch.
I figured the 1000ft of climbing post coffee should give us a bit more of an appetite! Maintaining social distancing at the café wasn’t a problem – we were the only customers for the entirety of our lunch. I feel very sorry for the businesses that are going to suffer financially from the current situation.
Lunch is always good at Cupacheeno’s and that coupled with the usual banter meant I had quite forgotten that the expected rain hadn’t materialised, which of course meant it did five minutes after we set off for what I hoped would be an interesting westward loop, prior to making tracks back to Chichester. After a quick stop to don waterproofs, during which time we seemed to have been joined by an oversized orange gnome on a Pashley, my magicial (no mushrooms involved!) mystery tour resumed, with Sam quizzing me on my planned route.
After taking National Cycle route 224 out of West Meon we turned west into a howling 40mph headwind for the gradual climb up Beacon Hill and the  steep descent into Exton. The river here was flowing fast and very high, evidence of the recent rainfall. Crossing the A32 for the climb up Stocks Lane is normally a fraught process but not today, hardly a car in sight. More evidence of the winter rain came at the point where we crossed the West Meon Trail, the little car park by the old railway bridge was underwater. Three of us took the cautious approach and manhandled our bikes up the steps and over the footpath, avoiding the worse of the flood, whereas someone who shall not be named,simply dialled his E-bike up to 11 (for fans of Spinal Tap) and parted the waves, possibly causing tsunamis along the valley!
Paul, having carefully carried his bike past the flood , then stepped into a deep puddle on remounting. The rain, which had been on and off then resumed as we started yet another long climb onto the minor road leading to Droxford Road and another fly past (in the opposite direction) of the Sustainability Centre and a return for afternoon tea to Rowlands Castle via Chalton. (Another 1700ft of ascent on this section)
Unusually we were the only cyclists at a quieter than normal Bumblebee Café ( superb cakes) before a wind assisted run back into Chichester. A good day out despite the wind and a bit of rain , clocking up 57 miles.

Sunday 8th March Ride to Singleton

Six of us gathered at the Cross on Sunday, especially nice to see Edwin again, but he had cycled to us on a Peddler Distribution Expedition and didn’t yet feel ready for a longer ride. The rest were there for that longer ride led by Harvey, Singleton bound but by a circumlocutory route: myself, Sam, Michael and Alan were poised for this odyssey, Sam with his tractor, a bike with tyres so fat they would make the average Zeppelin look shamefaced.

Sun 8Mar20 Start

So down to Fishbourne, Clay Lane and Westbourne, heading for coffee at Compton via Rowlands Castle, with a fairly westerly wind that was terrific, so I was glad that Harvey had chosen a westerly direction, hoping that we would have a tail wind to look forward to later. Occasionally someone would point out a pothole, and Sam would shout “Pah! That means nothing to me”, hurling his tractor into it and bouncing off the bottom. We had warnings from other cyclists as we went down Woodberry Lane, though we already knew the road was closed due to the ford flooding, and so it proved. In fact they’d blocked it off more effectively since a couple of days previously, which made me wonder of some reckless driver had attempted it anyway. So we had to use the path over the culverts, which were quite impressively pouring forth water.

Sun 8Mar20 Ford

Harvey and I took a picture and admired the Flooding Ford, which completely b*gg***d his plan for Coffee at Compton as the others had made themselves comfortable at the Bumblebee cafe by the time we got there, Harvey’s protestations that this wasn’t The Plan being met with the kind of helpful response a customer in Sainsbury’s gives to the shop assistant saying “there really is plenty of soap and pasta to go round, you know”. So we had a rather long drawn out coffee stop, with two sittings effectively, Sam who was part of the First Sitting agitating to leave before Harvey had even got his victuals. But I must say the cup cake I had, with white chocolate and buttercream made the imminent threat of extinction seem no more significant than a pothole to a Sam Balloon Tyre, the threat to my arteries entirely negated by the addition of nearly four blueberries and a sliver of strawberry, noted by Harvey as approximately two of my Five-a-Day.

Sun 8Mar20 Elevenses

Anyway, we did eventually get going along the road to Deanlane End. This was also fairly wet but only to the extent of a big puddle at the side of the road. This was getting wearing for Sam, who had had nothing but potholes and puddles to demonstrate his Caterpillar Tread Prowess; even the Flooded Ford was so bad he had had to use the pathway instead. So he cycled meanderingly up and down over the kerbstones to show off, leaving the rest of us to just cycle past the puddles. There was much shouting of “Right!” “Left!” “Right!” by Certain Members intent on extending the Coffee Confusion into a Bike Muddle as we approached the junction, but I was ahead and had already conducted high level consultations at Ministerial level with Harvey thereby knowing of his intention to take the Forestside road to West Marden, which also avoided further flooding near Idsworth, probably to the chagrin of Sam who could likely have floated over it.

The Electric Bikes plus Superpower Legged Michael shot off to the top of the hill above West Marden, with myself and Harvey catching up in a more dignified and restrained manner and pace. We then all took the steep hill in a Responsible Fashion by using,… y’know,…. brakes, except Sam who shot past us presumably secure in his in the belief in the cushioning effect of fat tyres. We then turned up to Compton where we Didn’t Stop For Coffee, and turned right to go up Apple Down, and on to East Marden Down where two supermarket delivery vans passed us full of soap and pasta. Wooshing down Chilgrove Hill we turned off to Colworth Down, stopping at the top of the hill for a photo op:

Sun 8Mar20 Hill3

Sun 8Mar20 Hill2

Sun 8Mar20 Hill1

Then hurtled down to West Dean, where at my request we crossed the road to go into the village as I was intrigued to see the Lavant, pushing the top of the arches:

Sun 8Mar20 Lavant

It was just starting to rain as we pulled in to The Weald and Downland Museum. We had actually only done 25 miles by then, but with the hills and stiff wind it felt like a lot more, and a lovely ride. I was especially pleased to scoff a beef and ale pie, home made apparently from Goodwood cows, so obviously knocked up by the duke in his kitchen. We formed a committee to sort out the urgent problem of sledgehammers, their use and misuse, and agreed that the right technique was an essential but sadly rare attribute of the Competent Sledgehammerist, and lamented the lack of attention given to this deficiency in The World Today.

After lunch we argued about routes back, but ended up climbing Knight’s Hill from Charlton to the racecourse, despite the usual frequent interruptions by Stupid Motorists using it as a short cut from the Fox Goes Free, and wanting to be Useful to the World I enhanced their Education and Self Awareness by muttering what a bunch of gits they were. Sam wanted to go to the airfield for tea, but at the top Harvey, Michael and Alan went left after the racecourse to go along the top of the hill, and so Sam and I went down Kennel Hill and turned right to Lavant, where Sam returned via Centurion Way and I went straight on back to Chi. A lovely invigorating ride, and more demanding than the mileage of 33 I recorded.


Saturday 07 March 2020 Bognor Library to The Forge at Slindon – Leaders Steve and Carol Woods

A Report for Cycle Bognor

21 riders came for todays ride on a dry but cold and blowy day. We split the group into 2 with Steve leading the first 11 followed by a gap with Bob and Gill leading the second group of 10 with Carol as the back marker. As usual Steve and Carol had their radios with them to keep in touch from the front to the back making sure all was ok.

Start Sat 7 March

We made our way to the new A259 cycle path turning left at Comet Corner into Yapton. Heading out of Yapton on Northend Road, we turned left in Lake Lane and picked up the cycle path to Walberton where we stopped for a photo.

Heading towards Fontwell Carol led from here as we took the underpass to avoid busy A27 turning left then right into Slindon Bottom Road. End of the road turned right into climb reaching Slindon college where we stopped to assemble. From here all down hill to our destination The Forge for Massive sausage rolls, hot drinks and large portion of cakes. All but 3 sat outside.

Steve led the first group tuning left from the Forge and taking first turning left into Park Lane followed by Bob and Gill with the second group and Carol as the back marker. At the end of the road we took Grahams suggested muddy track through the woods back to Fontwell underpass. Headed back to Walberton via West Walberton Lane passing Holly Tree pub turning right at the roundabout towards Yapton. Through Yapton and onto Comet Corner where we regrouped.

From here riders peeled off going their seperate ways

Total mileage 23 miles

Steve and Carol Woods

Sunday 1st March Ride to Durleighmarsh

Quite strong numbers at the Cross on Sunday for a ride to Durleighmarsh: Sam leading, with myself, Michael, Paul, Maureen, Russell and The Return of the Jeff, after a very long break, during which the Jeff Reconstruction Service has been busy on a general refurbishment, which made us the Magnificent Seven. Maureen pointed out that Sam should enjoy it, as he was leading so wouldn’t need to keep barging in with demands for changes of route, though the rest of us thought he was more than capable of causing an argument about it anyway, though I must admit he did a sterling job of avoiding the myriad of floods.


It was a bit breezy, but actually less so than most of the time of late, quite dry, and though cold it soon warmed up. We set off via Clay Lane and Watery Lane to Compton. Over coffee we formed a committee to solve the coronavirus problem. Russell chaired as he has sat on real committees containing threatened pandemics before, so patiently explained the science behind it all, the gist of which as far as I could see was “We’rrrre doomed”. Paul thought we might be allright as we are fit with cycling, but Russell squashed that with “Noooo Laddie, we’rrre Dooomed I say, Dooomed.”  Maureen thought she might be alright by wearing gloves, while Sam, rather frivolously I thought in the circumstances, concentrated on getting a tiny number crisps from the waiting staff. The First Lady he asked laughed politely, if slightly hysterically, and scarpered before Sam got dangerous, but he repeated his demands even more forcefully to a Second Lady who arrived with my coffee. No he didn’t want a packet of crisps, he explained, as that would be like just buying a packet of crisps (“yes well that’s exactly what you’ve just asked for isn’t it, some bloody crisps?”), NOOO, he wanted one of the little bowls with a few crisps in, like Paul had got with his toast, it wasn’t fair if Paul got a little bowl and he didn’t. This really set the coronavirus discussion in perspective; why exactly were we worrying about The End Times coming when the Catastrophic Crisis of Crisps was so Critical, and definitely in evidence in the Here And Now? However Lady Number Two I think correctly perceived that this was not, in essence a Nutrition Problem but a Sibling Rivalry and a little bowl of crisps was required to stop any squabbling. Thus the Crisp Calamity was Cleared up with the arrival of a small bowl of.….. crisps, the benefit of which was amply demonstrated by the undeniable fact that the mortality rate amongst us over coffee was precisely zero.

Jeff had said he would only come as far as the coffee stop for his first long ride in such a long time, so took his leave of us, while the Surviving Six left for a zoom down to South Harting and thence on the direct route to Durleighmarsh, which we reached in good time by 11.20, not bad considering we had taken control of an international pandemic on the way (well somebody needs to).

The Durleighmarsh tea rooms provided their good fare as usual, enhanced by the fact that they were still serving breakfast, which enabled me to steal a march on Sam, as we both had a sausage sandwich, but I had noticed that you could add an egg for a few pence more, a crushing disappointment which Sam was fortunately able to cope with fortified as he was by Crisps from Compton, so much so that he took a photo of us before we left as Michael was unable to frogmarch any passers by to do the job.


There was a small hold up before leaving as Paul had noticed my wheel was making a noise as we arrived, and in fact by post lunch it had sprung out of alignment. Sam realigned it and tightened the nut, leading to, as it turned out, quite unfair mutterings from me about bike shops not tightening nuts (it had been serviced a couple of weeks ago, but taking it back on Monday the thread had stripped from the relevant nut, which explained why the same nut had come loose a couple of months back).

Anyway Sam took us back through Quebec and turned off at Goose Green (it’s a bit of a Geographical Soup round there, we had to take care to avoid Bologna and Timbuktu) and up the zig-zag road to Ditcham. He came up with some flimsy excuse about avoiding the flooded road towards Idsworth to impose another hill on us, up to Chalton, and then another one by going right up Netherley Down instead of the usual direct route to Finchdean, Russell remarking laconically that this is what happens when you get someone with a battery leading rides, though actually the Netherley hill wasn’t that bad oddly.

Paul had been saying he wanted to get the miles in, so perhaps the Innovative Route might have helped a little, but despite also taking the slightly longer route down into Rowlands Castle we had only done 31 miles by that stage. Russell left us there while we had coffee, while Sam proposed going back via Compton to lengthen the ride. I was hesitant at first as I was awash with victuals, but the longer ride did sound a nice idea otherwise so I agreed and was restrained at the cafe having only coffee.

There was a small delay before leaving as Sam and Paul insisted on lying on the ground staring up at my chain shifter thingy in search of the Meaning of Life. This turned out to be CTS 500 which was recorded by Michael acting as High Priest and disseminated among the faithful. Then as a Famous Five we went off via Forestside and West Marden in another Flood Avoidance Manoeuvre. After a very nice caramel thingy in the garden at Compton Sam took us via East Marden and Chilgrove to pick up the Centurion Way at West Dean, now restored in my mind as an Approved Route due to the leaves having vanished.

And so back. Sam reckons 51 miles (82 kilometres) and over 3300 ft of climb, and a thoroughly nice ride in an unexpectedly balmy interlude in our Wet and Windy Winter.