Sunday 20 December Ride To Petersfield

This is the write-up for today’s bike ride to Petersfield:

‘A cold coming we had of it.

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.’ 

(Journey of the Magi, by T.S. Elliott)

Four likely lads cycled out from Chichester Cross at 9.30am today seeking the bright lights, the beautiful people and the cafes serving delicious food in Petersfield. Bob, Sam, Paul and the leader, Michael pedalled out along Clay Lane to West Ashling and on to Funtington in a 6 degree wind chill. We soon passed the Neo-Classical mansion between Walderton and West Marden which was occupied by the Canadian Army in the Second World War; which was threatened with demolition after the war; was re-built and almost became a casino; but it is a private residence today. Sam was involved in the rebuilding of the mansion. We stopped at Compton Village Store for lashings of hot chocolate and marshmallows, scrambled eggs on toast and chocolate cake; and the main topics of conversation were the new E-bike by Ribble which houses the battery within the frame and is a give-away at £3,000; and the Sky Documentary: “Armstrong”, which was all about the drug taking and the aggressive manipulation of the Festina Team by Lance Armstrong. After the mid-morning stop we headed out over Idsworth Hill and climbed up over Buriton Hill, which must be one of the finest valley and hill rides in West Sussex. After admiring the fabulous view at the top of Buriton Hill, Paul led the group down into Petersfield. 

We had lunch at The Cloisters Cafe, in Petersfield and we enjoyed the tomato and basil soup and the turkey and cranberry paninis. The lunchtime conversation included Sam’s experiences working at heights; his confrontation with the wife of the lead singer of Depeche Mode when he was constructing a mezzanine floor for her; and the engineering marvel that is the Forth Rail Bridge, which Sam manufactured rivets for.

After lunch, we climbed up over Ditcham Hill and cycled down passed St Hubert’s Church in Idsworth, which has some amazing wall paintings and was built in the 11th Century by Godwin of Wessex, the father of King Harold who died at the Battle of Hastings; and we cycled on through icy cold flood waters to Rowlands Castle. We could not cycle through Rowlands Castle and not stop for afternoon tea at the Bumblebee Cafe. We helped the staff at the cafe by finishing off the caramel shortbread. We talked about the miracle of the 3 day week; the fact that Delicate Sound of Thunder is probably Pink Floyds greatest live performance; and the dynamic creativity in popular music, art, fashion, films and photography that was 1960s London, which was depicted in “My Generation which was televised on BBC2 at 9.20pm on Saturday night.   

After tea, we cycled on home through Westbourne, Woodmancote, Fishbourne and Chichester. The entire circuit measured 41 miles from the Cross; we gained 2,013 feet in elevation and the maximum speed was 32.9 miles an hour.

Michael Eastham

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