An email from our ride leader: lunch will not be the Departure Lounge as advertised as getting home in a reasonable time is next to impossible, it will be Farnham instead. Sounds very reasonable to me as Alton to home is 35+ miles.
I have this mental block about Godalming starts. I know it only takes 50-55 minutes depending on the strength and direction of the wind but come 7:55 and I am fretting – must be on my way. Yet the last time I looked at the thermometer it read -1.8°C. Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey! (An old naval expression; the balls in question are cannonballs and there were stored on brass monkeys – large lumps of brass with holes in them smaller than the diameter of the cannonball so the cannonball rests in the hole. When it froze the holes in the brass monkeys contracted – O Level physics (they probably don’t do that in GCSE physics) – and the cannonball popped off; sometimes explosively.) I have to get out the door because it might take longer depending on the state of the roads.
I still arrive just before 9 and there is one spot in the sun which offers a modicum of warmth. 9:07 Chris B arrives and commends my choice of location. We debate who will turn up and which coffee stop which should head to if no-one else does, as even the new route feels beyond our frozen limbs’ capabilities. 9:14 Clive turns up and notes that today’s ride leader is frozen in at home – we were right! After further debate we decide that we will go to Selborne as the cakes are good, teapots can be refilled with hot water and we haven’t been there for a while. Lunch will be hot soup at Hector’s provided he does not run out as he did last visit. We agree that no-one else will turn up but Don might aim to meet us for coffee so we ought to let him know the change of plan. Now Clive has a new phone – way too complicated for any but a digital native of a few fewer years of age than us. Nevertheless we able to send a text.
And it was perishingly cold. Only one thing for it and that was to get some blood circulating – get those pedals turning. No major hills on the route – just some long drags – via Elstead, Thursley and Churt. On to Arfold, Whitehill and Blackmoor. Some whitish looking places on the roads but we took it with care and I can’t say that my wheels slipped at all. Remarkably few other cyclists out today – can’t think why. Beautiful blue sky, you can see for miles and the occasional sight of bird of prey. The hot tea could not come fast enough! Slightly thawed we felt that we ought to text and wish one of our number a Happy Birthday – quite a milestone one – but I will save him his blushes other than to note he can still out-climb and out-sprint us when he wants. But no phone signal or the new phone totally defeats us. We will claim the former and if the message did not get through then Happy Birthday and see you next week.
Saddling up is always the hard part, step outside the coffee shop and instant freeze. Ethylene glycol anyone? With the sun on our backs it was actually fine. At a good pace my fingers and toes warmed up and I felt an inner warmth. Then the new phone rang which was not answered in time – unrecognisable number and all way too complicated to sort out. Oh and you know who messaged saying that he had waited at Stedham for us until 11:30. If you had messaged us then you should have read the message from us saying that we weren’t going to Stedham – or are you as challenged as we are with this new-fangled technology? Give us two wheels and some pedals and we are happy; anything else – forget it.
Apart from these major distractions the ride back was glorious – it was an absolutely beautiful day to be out cycling the lanes – provided appropriately clothed. And Hector had some soup – piping hot.