tea leaves auguring balmy breezes, the longs and base layers were consigned to
the bottom drawer, despite an early nip that invited a modest show of goose
pimples. Sun and azure sky were temptation enough to seduce the eager from
points east and west to converge on the Blu’ Moon Café at Beare Green for morning
tea. Here we sunned and supped until some decided to turn north for home from
Holmwood, while the others looked over their shoulders to see who would lead
the way to unfamiliar Bolney in the absence of our convalescent Terry.
off with Jeff and the others in hot pursuit along the A24, before heading S.E
to Newdigate and Rusper. Having breached the A24, it was on and up to Colgate
and the lovely ridge of Partridge Lane through St Leonard's Forest, to cross
Hammer Pond for the breathtaking single chevron climb that took us to Ashfold
Crossways. Then a succession of lovely, undulating lanes through Slaugham
Common via Warninglid, where a signposted deviation led us to our
destination of Bolney.
Bells Inn was welcoming and we dined well outside in the shade of a parasol. Our
return was via Handcross and Pease Pottage, to retrace our wheel tracks through
Rusper and make an unscheduled tea stop at Tanhurst Farm, instead of the
scheduled Brockham, where an unsuspecting Daniel had headed to join us for tea.
Our humble apologies to Daniel!
The farm is an attractive place for tea. However,
with the last crumb of fruit cake consumed, a message arrived via pigeon-post
that Jeff’s No 1 son was just boarding his flight at Oslo and would be awaiting
collection at Gatwick South at 5.50pm. This meant an early departure for Jeff
to challenge the clock and head direttissima via Pebble Hill for home, to morph
unshowered and still in lycra from two to four wheels and head back to Sussex in pursuit of paternal duty.
the others soon headed North via Newdigate and Dorking, safely to reach the
welcoming comfort of hearth and home. The ride was a great pleasure for me and
I hope for others, despite a somewhat spanking pace at times, with a distance a
tad over 60 miles.
the record, I did manage to make it to Gatwick, despite the closure of Reigate
High Street, and having to abandon a traffic jam on Reigate Hill to run the gauntlet
of the M23.
A compact group of eight cyclists left Notcutts, Laleham around 11.30am. Where were you Bob? So unusual not to see Bob at C+M elevenses venue! Jeff has mailed me to apologies for not being with us - we missed you - as we did other regular riders!
Just for a change, I led our group through Egham Hythe to Whitehall Lane to ascend Prune Hill on the way to Englefield Green en route for Windsor Park. There was a marshal at Whitehall Lane, Woking Cycle Campaign? directing groups of riders in the same direction as us but they turned left at the top of the hill - I didn't envy them struggling up 'the Prune' on their mountain bikes?!
Once out of the park Alan made his way home to Osterley and we continued on the usual route to Maidens Green, turning into Bishops Lane, Weller's Lane and then a few extra yards were covered by taking Buckle Lane and Tickleback Row to The New Leathern Bottle at Jealott's Hill! There was a chill wind which kept the temperature down in the morning but Don and Dave still sat outside with therir drinks before leaving ahead of the five remaining riders who were sitting inside enjoying the warmth and hospitality of a very busy pub! We were served in good time and as each one of us agreed, the food was good and inexpensive. May be the pub was so busy due to the owners of, and interest in, some vintage vehicles in the car park. There presence certainly led to some interesting conversations amongst us (the guys) that is!!
The afternoon was somewhat warmer, even saw the sun! Over lunch we planned to change our tea venue to Wetherspoons at Walton which was just as well for I received a text a little later to be told the Lock cafe was not open! I made a boo-boo when leaving the pub - did a circular route by turning right from the pub, should have turned left....but all was well, soon back on planned roads which joined up with a regular return ride from that area, Ascot race course, Watersplash Lane, into Windsor Park, out at Bishopsgate, Prune Hill - again - through Thorpe, round the back of Penton Park (where the photo of the camel was taken), past Nessie at Abbey Farm, Chertsey Bridge, Shepperton and so to Walton...and tea!
Tony left us for home at Shepperton - hence Vic, Ed, Neil and myself enjoyed a leisurely cuppa at Wetherspoons.
A very nice day albeit very windy!! Vic thanked me for leading and keeping the wind from him and others!!! One of the perks of being the leader?! My total mileage was only 53 miles - due to living sooo near to elevenses!! Others would have done somewhat more :) Before closing - I and others wish Neil good luck for his End to End ride which he starts on Sat. 17th May...... and whilst I am at it....thank you Tony for rushing ahead and opening all the gates in the Park!!
Some of you know that I take part in Audax events, but I thought I would share a few details this time.
This was my first attempt at this distance, which I
successfully completed but my Edge 800 nearly died on me just before 2am on a
country road in the middle of nowhere.
As the weather is improving I didn’t think that I would see
any more ice, but before I could drive off I had to de-ice the car. On my way
to start at Chalfont St Peter community centre I wondered how many people take
part in these long distance events. About 40 people turned up, which is more
than I thought. The ride out sent us through Little Missenden, Thame, Stanton
St. John, Woodstock, Stow on the Wold, Tewkesbury, Newent, Simmons Yat and down
to Chepstow. From here it was across the Severn Bridge, Hawkesbury, Malmesbury,
Brinkworth, Great Shefford, Streatley, Goring, Henley on Thames and back to the
When 6am came almost half the group shot off down the road
and disappeared from sight. After about 45 minutes of cycling my hands started
to go numb and when I looked at the temperature on my satnav it was -1.7. I didn’t
think I would need winter gloves, but at least the cold didn’t last for long
and the day turned out to be dry and fairly warm.
The first stage from the start to the Blenheim Tea Rooms at
Woodstock was uneventful and when I got there a large group of the Audax riders
were just setting off for Tewksbury. A familiar face with a smile greeted me to
stamp my card. It was Chris Beynon, who I have been on CTC tours with in the
past and a few Audax rides. We had a chat while I eat my beans on toast. I was
one of the last to leave there and thought I would be on my own for the rest of
the day, but that was not to be even though it was slow going for me over the
Cotswolds. When I finally got to the control at the Bay Tree restaurant in
Tewksbury after 90 miles there was a large group there. The Bay Tree was told
that a large group of hungry cyclists would be coming, but I’m not sure if the
staff were that bothered as several of us were left waiting quite a long time
for food. This gave me a chance to leave the place and ride with others for the
first time. From here to the top of Simmons Yat I rode off and on with small
groups, before I left them behind until the next control at the Tesco petrol
station in Chepstow.
After crossing over the River Severn motorway bridge it was
the start of the return journey. After climbing up yet another hill I passed the
Somerset Monument near Hawkesbury Upton built in 1846. It looked rather tall so
I thought I would try to remember that one. Here is the Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_Monument.
Later on I rode through Brinkworth. Normally I don’t take
much notice of town or village names but this one caught my eye. As the road
sign said that it is England’s longest village. Here is the Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinkworth,_Wiltshire.
The rest of the day time ride was fairly uneventful. Occasionally riding with
others, or seeing some of them up ahead and moving out of sight.
I have ridden my bike in the dark loads of times but none of
those rides were for more than a few hours. This ride was about to change that
as I ended up riding all night long. I wondered how I would cope with the night
stage but it didn’t seem to bother me at all, apart from getting a bit cold
when stopping at the controls.
At 2am Sunday morning I found the mileage limitation of the
edge 800. When it gets to 216 miles it white screens then shuts down. When this
happened I was in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t want to hold no paper
route sheet for the rest of the route. After about 5 minutes of trying to sort
it out two Willesden Cycle Club riders came past so I rode with them to the
finish. I was nearly at Streatley when I managed to save what I had done and
reset the counters, then it was happy and started recording again. At Henley on
Thames the two guys I was riding with told me they were going to cross the
Thames so we found the footbridge, and while we were crossing it I could hear
lots of ducks but couldn’t see them.
Not far from the end the dawn chorus started and went on for
what seemed like ages then I realised I had just ridden all night long with
only a few stops.
When we finally made it to the finish at 5.15am and sat down
with coffee and a cheese toasty the organiser told us the first rider back
finished at 10.20pm. He must have been flying along. He also told me that my
time for this event was respectable and finished about half way down the field.
I’m not sure if the Satnav shutting itself down or the new
Garmin website has caused the errors but there is a straight red line on the
route map. It’s not a huge problem as I have recorded most of the final part of
A most unusual ride - 30 miles to elevenses, but only four more to lunch! Despite the modest 70 miles, we were late at every checkpoint. I reached home just before seven. Sunny but windy and not as warm as many had hoped.
Ed hopelessly outnumbered by women lost three at Rusper (partly due to car boot traffic) so delivered only Lilian to Horsham. If the truth be known they had told him in advance. That swelled our ranks to a modest seven though Dave W was soon for home. Despite an up-to-date map showing a bridleway leading from the station, Bob assured us that Downs Link had to be joined a mile or so to the west of Christ's Hospital. Here a lady (photo to be supplied by Jeff) caught our attention. When finally we did reach The Red Lyon Slinfold, it was well after one and the late-starting Neil was here supping a first pint.
Close to the site of Slinford railway station (now a caravan site) saw us back on the Downslink and we further dallied at the double bridge over the Arun when some went in search of wild garlic! After taking a tumble near to the A281 crossing but unharmed, Bob disappeared Guildford. At Rudgwick we took the familiar route to Capel via Weare Street. By now it was 1530; Steve and Anne, Terry in mufti and Sally had got there before us. And so another hour was lost sampling the cakes......