Sunday 19th July Ride to Cranleigh

Six of us gathered at the Cross on Sunday 19th July for the ride to the Parrot Inn, Forest Green: myself (Bob) leading, with Mike, Paul, Sam, Maureen and Harvey. I’d put on last week’s blog that it was good to start early as due to the booking system we knew everyone had arrived, so everyone turned up early this week, except me, consequently I got effusive thanks for my Unpredictable Creativity.


We sped off down East Street just like last week, but unlike last week went in the right direction first time, thus disappointing the crowds gathered in the hope of seeing more Synchronised U Turning, a new Olympic event for which our esteemed club should be chosen to represent Britain (or by then possibly England, or maybe just Bognor). We took the usual Oving Road route to Walberton, making dignified progress at a steady 14-17 mph, with Sam shouting “We are all here Bob, you don’t have to wait”, which comments I ignored feeling that Patience is Good for the Soul, and that a bit of Good forceably injected into Sam’s Soul might come in handy.

During a stop for a swig of water at Walberton Pond I was able to vouchsafe that the Damsel and Gentleman we had rescued last week from being punctured on the Kirdford Road had wondered, in an email, whether Sam had been a bass guitarist in a 1970s rock band. He claimed not, though (as he put it) Keith Richards looks like him. I wasn’t sure whether the Rolling Stones counted as a 1970s band, as they’ve occupied every decade since the 1850s, but Sam’s claim gives a new and under explored meaning to the 1967 Chichester drug trial which doubtless afforded Richards the opportunity of modelling himself on a local metal-working cyclist.

It was delightful crossing the A27 after Walberton, with not one car in sight in either direction, and thence up to Madehurst and Whiteways, which was almost empty presumably because last week’s Massed Ranks of Bikers had all died of Covid 19. But there our copy of last week’s ride ended and a Brand New, Avant-Garde ride emerged as we whizzed down Bury Hill, through West Burton to Fittleworth and up the Fittleworth Road to Wisborough Green. There were a lot of cyclists at the cafe and we had a long wait in the queue. We are also becoming connoisseurs of Track and Trace methods, but the one at Wisborough Green was the most innovative yet, of not doing any as far as I could see.

Even before this it had begun fairly piddling down, and didn’t look like stopping that quickly. Which in turn meant the prospect of sitting outside the Parrot Inn eating soggy fish and chips, when we were already pretty wet and cold left us distinctly unenthused. I already knew they were allowing only bookings for indoor tables, so looked at the website and luckily found there was a table available. Unluckily it was at 4.15. So it seemed pointless to go there and have to cycle somewhere else to eat, and the garden centre cafe at Cranleigh would be indoors and warm, characteristics which most of us found alluring though Sam prefers to be outdoors so he can complain about being too cold.

So we went up Drungewick Lane to the Loxwood Road, but instead of going through Rudgewick as I had intended we veered left at the Mucky Duck and went straight to Cranleigh, where the cafe was very organised, visible protections in place, and we had a decent cooked meal, the tables restricted to four as it is well known that the coronavirus can’t be bothered with such small numbers, requiring at least seven before getting excited.

Replete with our good food we grabbed our bikes from the car park



and took the Elmbridge Road through Dunsfold and Plaistow to Kirdford, where we hoped to sample again the coffee from their new coffee caravan. But we didn’t as they weren’t serving coffee. This was, to say the least, a bit of a let down, especially as both caravan and coffee makers were out and about, so everything was in place except the actual coffee. There was some talk of going back through Petworth to grab a cuppa, but I decided against this on the logistical grounds that I couldn’t be arsed, so we went the usual way. Half the group left us at the Welldigger’s Arms to return via Houghton Hill, despite my screaming “NOOOO you will die”, leaving myself, Sam and Paul to return whence we came. Lovely ride, 71 miles for me back to Chichester.


Sunday Ride to Southwater 12 July

Six of us met at the Chichester Cross on Sunday 12th for the long ride to Southwater: myself (Bob) leading, with Sam, Paul, Maureen, Alan and Michael. Weather was good, especially as the high winds of late had abated.

We started about ten minutes early, one advantage of the booking system to limit numbers being we knew who was coming and that we were all there. I set off down East Street and St. Pancras, realised I’d gone wrong, so we did an elegant, perfectly synchronised U turn which must have been a pleasure to watch and went down The Hornet and Oving Road instead to go via Walberton and up to Madehurst. The number of bikers at the Whiteways café was extraordinary, phalanxes of them, packed shoulder and revving their engines. I thought of popping down and saying “You do know about social distancing, don’t you?”, but then I thought I’d like to live a bit longer so didn’t. Instead we zoomed (that is, we rode quickly, we didn’t peer at each other on little boxes on a computer screen) down Houghton Hill and stopped for coffee at the Riverside café, as Wiggonholt was still closed and I hadn’t been able to confirm the Amberley Tea Rooms hours. They had plenty of room and found a gap for us amid palm trees and the like

RiversideCafe 12July20

There was some talk of collecting one person’s contact number in a group, which seemed a good arrangement, but as we went to go no-one seemed to have asked for one. Turned out we should have written it on the menu, so we weren’t much better organised than last week, though without the hokey-cokey.

We in fact passed the Amberley tea rooms which was open, but we sped up past Wiggonholt, turned off to go through West Chiltington, turned off to go through Broomers Corner, past the Countryman pub near Shipley, and then straight up to Southwater Country Park.

I’d tried the route out during the previous week and found the park horribly crowded, with long queues for the café and loos, so had emailed everyone suggesting they bring sandwiches. In fact, though it was Sunday and the weather was better, for some reason there were no crowds and no queues at all. This was obviously a plot to embarrass me; I thought of hunting down the actors who had posed as crowds, queues etc on Tuesday but decided they might have made their getaway by now, being as half a week had passed, so I contented myself with glaring at everyone suspiciously while we ate our lunch.

SouthwaterCafe 12July20

However Maureen had recklessly left it to buy lunch at the cafe anyway, a plan which turned out to be annoyingly feasible. However when we left and started back down the main road we had a minor crisis in that Maureen thought she had lost her credit card. Fortunately she found it again. Being a gentleman I decided it was best not to mention in the blog which item of clothing she had stuck her card in, as it was her bra, but she did vouchsafe later that it was also a good place to stick jelly babies when she went for a run. This sartorial advice was obviously born of much experience, and I think we should, as a club, explore the possibilities. We already know from pioneering research of the digital payment and confectionary carrying potential of lingerie, but why stop there when the transportation possibilities are so auspicious? Tyre levers, bits of string, bottle tops, small frogs, batteries, ornaments, miniature turnips, candle ends, model carpet sweepers, and gorgonzola fragments all come to mind as essential equipment the carriage of which would be greatly facilitated by the wearing of underwear often marketed under the label “Maureen’s banking and energy supply carriers”. A New Dawn beckons, threatening the very existence of saddle bags.

The excitement of this occasion did not prevent us from continuing on our way through Kirsty’s Wood and Barnes Green to Summers Place. I had intended to go down the pavement for the few hundred yards of the A29 we have to endure before taking the Okehurst Lane turning. But when we got there the road was almost empty! Lockdown had returned! I joyfully led us down the unoccupied road therefore, and immediately the traffic lights from road works that had been holding the cars back changed and unleashed Armageddon on us.

We fortunately got off the A29 safely despite this, and wound our way down to Wisborough Green. I had said we could stop for tea there if we were late and so likely to miss the shop at Kirdford, and Sam had moaned as he didn’t want to stop there. But we got to Wisborough Green in very good time, so I didn’t stop there, and Sam moaned that we weren’t doing so when I’d promised we would. So we continued to Kirdford anyway, but on the way passed a very nice couple who had suffered a puncture but had no repair means. We stopped, and Paul kindly supplied an inner tube for said restoration purposes. They were perfectly prepared with the equipment to do the repair themselves, but Sam of course repaired it for them anyway, the gentleman whose tyre had been punctured looking bewildered as he’d thought up to that point that it was his bike, not realising that Sam is the Comptroller General of every bike on the planet.

Punture 12 July20

It was a pleasing thing, that the couple had just been to (I think) Kirdford shop for some groceries, a journey they had often made previously by car, but now cycled. And when we got to Kirdford the chap giving out coffee in their new coffee van said they had noticed a marked increase in cycling during The Plague, which hadn’t seemed to abate at all as restrictions eased, which is good news. After a cuppa we continued back over Duncton and the Midhurst road, the group fragmenting as Maureen left us at the turning to East Dean, Sam and Paul at Two Barns Lane, Alan and Michael at East Lavant, leaving me Heroically Alone to Finish the Job into Chichester.

A lovely ride, 75 miles (120 kilometres) on my clock.


Sunday 5 July Ride to The Flower Pots Inn, Cheriton

Five of us met at the Cross on Sunday 5th July for the long ride to the Flower Pots Inn, Cheriton; myself (Bob) leading, with Paul, Sam, Linda and Mark. It was pretty windy especially on the way out.

We went via Rowlands Castle to stop for coffee, mainly to stock up for lunch, as the Flower Pots, although serving their excellent beer brewed on the premises, was sadly not intending to serve food due to kitchen refurbishment. At Rowlands we had our first taste of the new government regulations for hospitality, and distinguished ourselves immediately. There was a nice big, clear sign at the entrance to the Bumblebee telling us not to order at the counter unless we were taking away, but sit at a table to order and be served, providing our name, rank and number so we could be hunted down and quarantined if necessary. We didn’t even notice the sign so cheerfully walked straight past, ordering at the counter as usual, then went outside and sort of sat at a table but also stood, completely unable to say if we were taking away or drinking in, half of us giving our details and half not, but not moving very far away either.

Sam took a lead in this process, doing a sort of Hokey-Cokey stepping in and out from the tables and boldly giving his details reluctantly in order to be decisively indecisive. It was good to take comfort in the fact that everyone was having to cope with the new situation together, except that everyone else in Hampshire seemed to have cottoned on without the slightest difficulty, we alone acting as Pioneers of Brainlessness with no-one else competing at all. Searching for someone to compare ourselves to favourably we went through Eddie the Eagle, commanders of the Light Brigade, the Sinclair C5, Prince Andrew’s PR officer, the chap in the American Civil War whose last words were “they couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist….”, and finally in complete despair had to make do with Matt Hancock.

Anyway suitably refreshed, we continued via Catherington and down the hill and took the back roads towards the Bat and Ball. On the way however Sam (or at least his bike) got a puncture. Sam and Paul got on with mending the puncture, but Mark, Linda and I did the serious work of finding out what had caused it, and a systematic exploration revealed that it was in fact Mark’s fault: seeing a magpie some minutes before he had saluted, whereas the scientifically correct response (according to my mum) is to say “hello Mr. Magpie, how’s your wife and children today?”, a deficiency in Mark’s education I was pleased to fill leading doubtless to fewer punctures in Rides To Come. As we were beside a fairly new vineyard we also assisted the process by reminiscing about drinking wine in the ‘70s, which mainly involved Mateus Rose imbibed through flared trousers.

Cheriton Three 5 July 20

Puncture mended we continued to the Bat and Ball, over to East Meon, down the valley to West Meon, and up the 224 cycle route that starts as Church Lane. I was delighted to find that the road name as it goes through Bramdean Common changes to Uncle Bill’s. Uncle Bill’s what isn’t clear, but they do have a very personal, sometimes frankly anatomical approach to geography round there. We turned left at Manor House Farm and up the steep hill, on to Cheriton Lane and across the old battlefield, where due to shortage of time we had to confine ourselves to re-enactment on our bicycles, thus using technology unavailable to Generals Hopton and Waller.

The beer was very good at the Flower Potts Inn, but they really didn’t do much else, not even tea or coffee, which Sam was miffed about having to make do with lemonade. But they were very friendly and organised and had a contact tracing thing involving text messages, which seemed a good idea. The big garden meant lots of space, and open loos and staff poised to boil them after each piddler. It was quite popular, by the time we went to go there were lots of bikes parked.

Cheriton One 5 July 20

Cheriton two 5 July 20

We returned via Kilmeston and Wheely Down, thus passing quite close, I was pleased to see on the map, to Betty Mundy’s Bottom. We then skirted carefully round Henry Robinson’s Spleen and fairly shot up Mary Watkinson’s Armpit, and so to Warnford and up the long hill to Old Winchester Hill where we just missed the coffee van but didn’t miss the hoards and hoards of cars mystifyingly wanting to clog up Hayden Lane, park at the top and sit in their cars. I began to plot ways of filling up the new Eco Burial site at the Sustainability Centre with their bodies, but instead we carried on along the ridge to Clanfield and Charlton, and thus down to Rowlands again.

I wanted to get back in order to Clap, and Linda and Mark also wanted to carry on, so we split with Paul and Sam stopping for tea at the Bumblebee, hopefully Managing The Process better than last time. Linda and Mark left me to go back through West Ashling, and I have a fear that Mark may have seen a magpie again and Done the Wrong Thing, as I had another spoke break at Southbrook (second in a week), fortunately I was still able to ride it ok.

Lovely ride, about 65 miles (104 kilometres) back to Chi.


Sunday 5 July Short Ride to Slindon

Early rain cleared before the start of the Ride to sunshine and cloud and a good day save for being extremely windy..

Four of us joined Harvey at 10.00am at Chichester Cross for a bike ride to Slindon via Eartham. The group was Harvey, Robert, Rosie, Alan and Michael. Thanks to Michael for the report and pictures.

We cycled along quiet country lanes and then enjoyed slices of bakewell tart, caramel shortbread and chocolate brownies and lashings of hot chocolate in the sunshine in Slindon. All very good, harmless fun!!!

Pictures were taken at Slindon and other locations on the way back.