The trouble with blogging is that once you have started people seem to expect you to continue; at least I think that is what is wanted as the remark came, “I am looking forward to read what you write about today’s ride.” And, “How do you and Peter coordinate the blog.” We don’t. But this was tempered with, “You only write when it rains.”
The ride really starts on Saturday as I study the weather forecast, check the bikes, ensure I have some cash and try and make those difficult decisions as to how many layers to wear and which bike to take. The bike was easy – the luxo-cruiser given the distance and the hills. The layers were not. And the local cash machine had died.
At Merrow I spotted two cyclists heading towards Guildford and decided they must be Heidi and Martin – which meant that I was a minute or two later than I would like and I had to stop at a suitable cash machine. I finally caught up with them just before Godalming but I knew that this was not going to my day. The pollen count seemed off the scale and legs are not supposed to be made of jelly but that’s how mine felt. It was going to be a tough and long ride.
Eight of us left Godalming, once Clive made his 9:10 appearance, heading for Petworth via Kirdford where we met up with Don. The lady who runs the teashop is wonderful, no wonder it is always busy and she advised us that the fruitcake was made with Sussex cider – which you could definitely taste. As a West Country boy I prefer West Country cider (and Cornish clotted cream) but their fruitcake is one that I heartily recommend.
Heading south we made our way past Bignor, Houghton and Slindon. Passing the Forge seemed very perverse with the food smells wafting across the road making stopping seem like an attractive option. Captain said otherwise, so southwards we continued.
I shan’t comment about the complete idiot with trailer behind who saw us all indicating right and moving out to the centre of the road to make our turning, going up a hill towards a blind bend; he just had to hope that nothing was coming the other way as he overtook us. Thankfully nothing did and we all survived. Sounds like Don had something to say to another driver on another hill but I didn’t hear the whole story.
Bognor arrived in very good time but much to our dismay there were signs up on parts of the promenade saying £100 fine if caught cycling. What’s a promenade for, for heaven’s sake; walking? We climbed off and walked. The café at Bognor leaves me feeling completely exasperated. The wait time in the queue would leave McDonald’s mangers screaming. The whole process needs fixing. However the new cakes were very good, though my server needs a lesson in cutting. And then to our delight, as we sat eating, we were treated to a solo acrobatic display. Those in the know declared that it was a Mustang but I don’t think they were able to agree on the engine type. The other entertainment was man trying to kickstart a wonderful, old, but clearly temperamental motor bike. Poor chap was bobbing up and down on the kickstarter like there was no tomorrow. Perseverance paid off and with a wry grin he departed.
As did we, via Chichester to the West Dean cycle path. Déjà vu as we came back from Bosham that way the week before. What is immensely heartening is the number of young children on their bikes on the path who are clearly enjoying themselves – long may they continue to enjoy it. This week we were somewhat restrained on the “time trial road” to Midhurst unlike last week – but thank goodness, my calves were killing me.
Café Verdi’s portion control is something else. You could feed an army on one slice of any of their fantastic offerings. I could not face a whole piece – a decision I almost regretted later on, but Bexley Hill loomed and both Peter and Martin had a week’s training in the mountains to prepare for it. Take a hill at your own pace, but I just could not drive my legs to their normal climbing cadence. Even on the downhill I was subdued. My cycle computer keeps recording that we now regularly do over 5,000 feet of climb, yet looking back over past years’ trips and I see climbs of 3,500 ft. Heidi, this is all for your benefit!
The Lurgashall rollers, which everyone seems to hate, the climb up from Hydestyle, Guildford and peeling off for home – thank goodness for energy bars as the A246 still awaited and if there was anything even floppier than jelly then that’s what my legs had become. The blessing is that wind had not changed direction so the final stretch was wind-assisted. 108 miles and my daughters gave me a Father’s day card. A lovely end to a lovely ride but can someone tell me how to get rid of calf pain and jelly legs please?