Eight cyclists, Edwin, Sam, Russell, Maureen, Max, Paul, Adam and Michael met at the Cross in Chichester on Sunday 30th January and cycled out of town under cloudless skies, but with a chill in the clear air, it was only 1.1C at 9.00am.
Michael led the group out along Clay Lane to West Ashling and up Watery Lane to Funtington, where we parted with Edwin; after which we soon arrived at Compton Village Store and indulged in the Battle of the Bacon Sandwiches. The staff at the Village Store had mixed up our order with another group of cyclists, suffice to say that Russell and Paul received their boxed-up bacon sandwiches in record time, much to the amusement of all onlookers.
After the first café stop of the day, and his bacon sandwich, Russell led the group on the gradual climb up the B2146 past Uppark House and Garden, after which we all free wheeled down into South Harting. The route from South Harting ascended along narrow country lanes flanked by high hedgerows all the way through Nyewood and on to Rogate, where we crossed the A272 and climbed up through leafy glades to Milland for our second café stop of the day at the community run store and café. After gorging ourselves on Maureen’s coconut rounds,we turned right out of the car park and headed on through Redford and Iping Marsh and on past the grounds of Woolbeding House and Gardens, before descending into Midhurst.
We stopped for lunch at Garton’s Café in Midhurst, as planned and we were overjoyed to be served by the ever friendly ‘Mrs Doyle’; Sam was in his element J! We sat outside and enjoyed a hearty lunch.
The lunchtime conversation included memories of climbs up Mont Ventoux and the Col du Galibier; how to deal with grumpy French restaurant owners; the geo-political situation on the border of Russia and Ukraine; and all those parties that Boris Johnson held during lockdown!
Following on from lunch, we cycled past the polo pitches on the Cowdray Estate and on through South Ambersham, Selham and Upper Norwood and on to the fourth café stop of the day at Graffham, before cycling on through Heyshott and up and over Cocking Hill, where we competed with a line of impatient car drivers. Following the descent of Cocking Hill, we parted company with Maureen and Adam at Singleton; they were heading off to Felpham and Aldwick via East Dean and Eartham.
We cycled on to West Dean, where we parted company with Paul and Sam who carried on cycling down the A286 to Chichester; and Max, Russell and Michael ventured off down Centurion Way to Mid Lavant. Max parted company at Mid Lavant, and Russell and Michael cycled down the southern part of Centurion Way to Chichester. The round trip from Chichester covered 51.1 miles, the average speed was 12.1mph,the route included 2,428 feet of ascent in glorious weather conditions, and a great time was had by all.