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.





Sunday 28th June Ride to The Boulevard Café East Wittering

This is a report on the short ride today. There were four of us out today Arthur, Lynn, Maureen and Graham for a very windy ride to East Wittering stopping at Chichester Marina for a coffee.  Then it was on via the Salterns Way to East Wittering.

We met Arthur’s cousin at Birdham Pool on the way back, that’s his boat in the background of the picture.

East Wittering 28June20

Another stop at the Marina on the way back this time for an ice cream, 21 miles in all after a lovely day and lots of catching up chat.


Sunday 21 June Ride to Salt Shack Cafe Hayling Island

Five of us met at the Cross on Sunday 21st for a midsummer’s Long Ride to Hayling Island, there to meet up with the Short Ride starting an hour later. Sam was leading, with myself (Bob), Mike, Russell and Harvey. Rain had stopped, and cloud was beginning to dissipate.

Off we went down West Street and over the Fishbourne bridge to take the Clay Lane route to Rowlands Castle, and up through Finchdean and Idsworth, and we stopped just over the railway bridge to take the air and flapjacks, plus coping with the remnants of Lockdown by piddling in the fields, in a Socially Distant manner. We fairly stormed up towards Buriton, but in the dip in the middle of Queen Elizabeth Forest we had to splash through a deeply flooded bit which is often boggy, but hasn’t been flooded before to my memory, or at least not that deep. The result was Near Catastrophe, in that my socks got wet, but I Steadfastly Carried On, determined to keep a Stiff Upper Lip, and in doing so Nobly Hide this calamity from the others, bravely and modestly brushing it aside as if it were of no account at all.

“My socks got wet” I said as we stopped at the top of the hill, but the others brushed it aside as if it were of no account at all, preferring to talk about the route ahead, and other trivia. I reflected philosophically that it was ever thus; pioneers rarely receive the honour that is their due in their lifetime. So I willingly accepted the role of Silent Martyr with Slightly Damp Feet, and we shot down the hill and thus to Petersfield Market Square. There we encountered a massive queue for the Laura Ashley closing down sale, and had to  squeeze past, in a Socially Distant kind of way, to get a coffee at the Cloisters, where the courtyard was also getting quite crowded with coffee drinkers, which combined with the Laura Ashley queue made me feel a bit crowded and led me to fear an imminent Drone Strike.

21June20 Petersfield

Over coffee we formed a committee to reflect on the management of the pandemic. This involved various phrases such as “pig’s ear”, ‘government” etc, while Sam looked at the sky, but even he was heard to mutter “We’re dooomed” into his coffee. As before Russell took the chair, and said we should be worried about India and meat processing plants mean instant death. This reminded me that a major employer in Petersfield is the local abattoir, and as we were surrounded by the good denizens of the aforementioned metropolis we immediately formed a defensive ring and threw our empty coffee cups at them, Sam wired his batteries up to a generator, giving us 3,000 volts to throw laser beams, Harvey  produced a pitchfork and lunged at the enemy with bloodcurdling cries of “Garden services available at very reasonable cost”, while I threatened to make them smell my slightly damp socks.

Luckily this Sterling Action allowed a graceful retreat down Sheep Street, at the bottom of which Sam saw the signs for the Shipwrights Way, and had the Bright Idea of using that route. I had used the Shipwrights Way the previous week, albeit near Liphook rather than Petersfield, had ended up pushing the bike for about a mile, and reflecting that last night’s rain would have made it even worse, I felt the proposition before us, while interesting and superficially sound, contained a flawed premise of which my cycling companion may not have been aware, so I contributed a reasoned counter argument to the Discourse on the matter by  shouting “NOOOOOOOOOO”, in a measured kind of way. So instead we went up past Butser Quarry to the Hampshire Hog, and down through Charlton. Sam took us up Netherley Down instead of the usual route to Finchdean, stopping for a widdle while we climbed. Catching me up we conversed:

Sam: “Do you come here often?”

Me: “Only when some git with a battery forces me to”

But in fact it is a nice hill and he did have a good excuse, cutting out Rowlands Castle and Horndean. Russell left us at the top of Netherley Down, as the rest of us took the Havant road in an attempt to get to Hayling Island by 12.30. Much of the route was off road, especially nice as the bits that weren’t made me yearn greatly for the Blessed Days of Lockdown. The last of the off road bits was the Billy Way, and then the horrific Armageddon known as the Hayling Island bridge, partially blocked by a family trying to cross who got shirty about us using the pavement (which we obviously did on a selfish whim as a result of having one of those strange “not feeling suicidal” moments). It was about 12.45 when we got onto the island, where we met the Short Ride led by Arthur, with Lynn, Graham and Gill, coming away. They had apparently been there since 11.45, so I suppose our Dash from Petersfield at least meant we had a couple of minutes chat with them before they Braved the Bridge.

We went on to the Salt Shack Café anyway, where they were very organised to provide a good takeaway service. I must admit the Short Ride had done well to last an hour; we had to perch on some boat trolleys which wasn’t over comfortable, and the scenery was….lots of boats. This provided several seconds’ conversation (“There’s a big boat. And there’s a small one.”). but we eventually returned to the Bridge of Death to come back via the direct route through Westbourne.

Lovely ride, even though the Meet Up with the Short Ride bit wasn’t overly successful. About 50 miles I think, back to Chi.


Sunday 7 June Ride to Four Marks

Three of us met at the Cross at 8.00 last Sunday (7th June) for the World Premier screening of:

The Bognor and Chichester CTC Ride Again

Starring Sam, Paul and myself (Bob). We each carried a fly swatter so we could Stay Alert and swat any Covid 19 viruses that came along. Sam and I also had suitably lockdown length hair, but Paul had obviously been wielding some scissors at some point.

So we measured out 10 metres and in a suitably distant manner Sam led us down West St, Four Marks bound. We went over the bridge towards Fishbourne, which I’d been avoiding as it’s hard to socially distance yourself from other users without throwing them onto the railway tracks, which might be less healthy for them than catching The Plague. But the bridge was OK except the buddleias had heard about nature recovering during lockdown and had taken this obligation very seriously. We went the usual way to Rowlands Castle as there is a convenience shop there open early, so Paul and Sam bought a coffee while I had my flask. That didn’t take long, and we continued via Buriton to Petersfield and then Steep, and so up through Hawkley. It is pretty steep round there but really lovely, and you go through delightfully named places like Newton Valence, where we went past a family out for a spin in their horse drawn carriage.

I wondered if we were, in fact, still on the map or if the area was just marked “Here Be Dragons”. Just to encourage us, every 5 miles Sam said “only another 2 or three miles”, and Paul and I began to feel Somewhat Sceptical of Sam’s Geographical Acumen, though the actual explanation was probably that we had entered a time loop, where horses and carts were the up to date transport option, and the last 2 or 3 miles were being endlessly replayed. Fortunately we know from Einstein that space-time is curved, and thus we veered round westerly to arrive at the garden centre at Four Marks in pretty good time, well before 12.

Paul and Sam braved the queue to get something to eat, and joined me as I ate my sarnies at the picnic tables, Paul and I sat at opposite corners and Sam stood to make a triangle. Social Distancing actually takes quite a bit of sorting out, but it was quite noticeable how automatically people are adjusting to each other. Afterwards we continued westerly then down through Hawthorne and the A32 for a bit, the traffic still reduced enough to make it more bearable than usual. Thence down to the Meon Valley and East Meon, so we could have a coffee, arriving at 1.20. at the shop. Which closes at 1.00 on Sundays.

So we didn’t have a coffee but took a Socially Distant Selfie instead (pic)

East Meon Stores7June

and continued up to the Bat and Ball. As we went Sam’s e-bike started to play up, and he got stuck some metres short of the top of the hill above East Meon, having to push it to the top. It continued being a bit flaky, and we were in quite hilly territory, down from the Bat and Ball, then up the hill to Catherington and thus Rowlands Castle. So we arrived triumphantly at the Beehive, which is open for takeaways, at 3.03. And it closes at 3.

So we took another selfie. (Pic)

Rowlands Castle7June

Sam wheedled the owner into serving us anyway, and then having got them to make coffee for us when they were shut cheerfully presented his loyalty card to them. I was braced for him asking them for a discount for bulk purchase, but fortunately things didn’t get that bad and we had some nice coffee. Sam examined his faulty bike. He seemed to think the problem lay in the switch. I forget the technicalities, but the gist of it was that the switch had got wet recently and was sulking, so wouldn’t let the motor go at more than 7 miles an hour.

This required some innovative thinking on Sam’s part, and he solved it by taking the e-bike concept to a new level, inventing a means of electric propulsion called Turning The Pedals With Your Feet. Thus we took the usual route back, Sam I must say not being delayed by this sudden need for a manual method of travel.

A really nice re-start to riding again after so many weeks, 68 delightful miles.


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.


Sunday 23rd February Ride to Compton

Well, just what has happened to our weather? I made my way over to the Cross not really expecting to see anyone else mad enough to come out in the 30-40 mph westerly winds with a side order of heavy rain forecast for midday. However,Sam was as usual waiting there with his coffee and we were soon joined by Paul, so three out!
Our scheduled destination, the Harrow Inn at Steep, doesn’t really have much in the way of indoor seating, especially if you don’t want to be roasted by the open fire (not ideal for encouraging post lunch cycling) and anyway, it seemed a long way in the conditions! So one quick planning meeting later and it was off to Rowlands Castle for elevenses and to undertake a reassessment of lunch destination from there.
I think we now know how it feels to be in a wind testing tunnel – we barely made double figures mph against the headwind and the few times that it was a cross wind were ‘interesting’ to say the least……… The roads were very wet in places and the ford at Rowlands Castle was in full spate showing the effects of the week’s almost constant rain, Not surprisingly there were very few other cyclists out and about!
After a very pleasant break at Bumblebee Café, definitely a favourite for the welcome and food, I consulted my rain forecast oracle. It predicted heavy rain in about 45 minutes. This was enough for me to turn tail and enjoy a rapid wind assisted blast back to Chichester, leaving Sam and Paul to ride up through Idsworth ( light rain) onto Compton (heavy rain) for a final stop before heading back themselves.
A very short 20 miles for me with the others managing 27 miles. Despite the conditions it was strangely satisfying to have got out on a quite vile day!