Sunday 13 March Ride to Rudgwick

Six of us gathered at the Cross on Sunday 13th March for a ride to Rudgwick; myself (Bob) leading, Sam, Paul, Maureen, Adam and Max. I’d changed the time to 8.30 as it is a long ride and I needed to get back for something. But there was no problem over this, as we are a very mature group of responsible adults, so at 8.30 I said “shall we go?”, and immediately found Max hadn’t turned up, (though admittedly he was riding from Midhurst), Sam had a cold and had forgotten his hanky, so I rummaged around for some tissues for him and Adam started to play with his mudguards, thus setting them a bad example as they obviously didn’t want to go to Rudgwick and tried to go in a different direction. So we set off a bit late, and stopped every now and then for Adam to tell his mudguards off, which resulted in them sulking and sucking their thumbs for a while, before playing up again as soon as he stopped looking at them.

We nevertheless negotiated the new crossing system at the Oving Road A27 junction, which takes longer than it used to so Adam’s mudguards took advantage of the slight delay to start throwing things at each other, thus lengthening the delay. But onward we surged, not even pausing at Walberton and as it was still early on a Sunday went up the A29 – traffic wasn’t too bad – before zooming down Houghton Hill to the Riverside cafe for coffee.

Coffee in fact turned into breakfast for some of us, with large numbers of eggs and bits of bacon around, and it all began to seem quite grown up. We went to pay and Paul and I got our bikes ready, wondering where everyone else was and moaning about timekeeping. Eventually, one by one they appeared and slowly the group reformed, bikes at the ready, by which time Paul had vanished. I was just about to suggest a search party, but he also reappeared and I set off quick before anyone else could decide to explore the local scenery, through Amberley, and up towards Nutbourne where Adam’s mudguards started giggling and causing upset. Adam quelled them in a trice however, and we continued through West Chiltington, not stopping at a VR postbox on the way and so on to Billingshurst. We put up with the disgusting A29 again for the short distance it is unavoidable, turned off at Okehurst Lane and followed a route I really love, up Okehurst Road, past delightful countryside, through Bignor Wood and so up to Rudgwick and through Bucks Green.

“Are we nearly theeeerre yet?” Sam started to chant from the back as we turned left up Lynwick Street, followed by “How much fuurtheerr?”. I was just regretting not bringing a jigsaw puzzle, or maybe a cosh to keep Sam occupied, but we shortly went over the old railway line to arrive at our lunch stop at the Milk Churn. There, however, the staff had obviously known we were coming and were fully prepared as they provided for each of us a little gadget with flashing lights and buzzers to keep us amused and stop us causing any trouble. This intended distraction didn’t work instantly, as Paul and I started to try and throw the tables about, but there as well the Milk Churn were braced, and had screwed the tables down to prevent us vandalising. So we gave up and played with the buzzy flashy things and quietened down, our good behaviour only slightly disturbed by Sam saying “eww what’s that?” when he saw my avocado smash avec pancetta, clearly jealous. Paul, meanwhile, did his now habitual vanishing act when the pic was taken:

“Has everyone been to the toilet?” I asked anxiously as our meal came to an end, though my efforts to keep control were nearly foiled by Adam’s mudguards, which were resentful having been left out of the games with buzzy flashy things and tried to cause disruption. However Adam was in full disciplinary control of the Recalcitrant Mudguards by now, so we had only the briefest hesitation before shooting back down through Buck’s Green, to stop at a very interesting Edward VII post box a little way down the Loxwood Road.

Strengthened by this Morally Fortifying Find we continued through Loxwood, turned left to go through Ifold and then right past the golf course to Kirdford, where the tea hut stayed open just long enough to provide victuals.

Over tea, excited by our newly adopted Mature Attitude to Life, we formed a committee to consider some Unresolved Questions of Life and the Universe, with special attention to Cycle Helmets and Nutrition. We were, I think, definitely in favour of the latter, though some misguided comments were made about my Sensible Decision to cool myself down with an ice lolly (the wrapper of which proclaimed it to be “100% real”, which raised intriguing thoughts about the Ontological Authenticity of their other produce), and to fortify myself to an even greater degree than that achieved by an Edward VII post box by stuffing my face with a Chocolate Concoction. This disagreement preceded a shift in our Philosophical Discourse as we moved on the the helmet issue. There too, however, we were unable to arrive at a clear cut judgement. Aided by Adam’s impressive knowledge on the subject we could only concede that the complexities of the matter could not be reduced to a simplistic statement without doing violence to the subtle nuances inherent in the topic, in contrast, I felt, to the quite different issue of ice lollies and Chocolate Concoctions which are undoubtedly a Good Thing.

Our responsible commitment to the Pursuit of Truth was further demonstrated by the conduct of some Serious Science, in an experiment to discover the best method of taking a group pic, firstly by pointing the camera and pressing:

Then by asking people to “say sausages” while said pic was taken:

I think the second pic shows definite advantages, with slightly more evident smiles, a slightly odd look from Adam but with Sam looking equally grumpy in both.

Following the usual route back from Kirdford I was pleased to inject a Thrilling Delight into the company by pointing out another Edward VII post box at Byworth, following which we sped (or, of course, pottered in my case) to Barlavington where Max left us, but the rest staggered up Duncton Hill. Thereafter Maureen and Adam peeled off as we turned down the Lavant Valley, then Paul and Sam did the same at Lavant. I had done 67 miles from home when I got back, pleased to have aided in furthering the Body of Knowledge in matters of Thorny Controversy.


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