cycling in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and beyond…..

Grinning all the way to Shoreham

The ride to Shoreham Airport is one of my favourites, some lovely lanes, I know I am going to do over 100 miles and I can’t remember too many hills of note. So the Saturday preparation routine should be simple enough. It’s going to be the Grin Machine, but I will swap out the Powertap hub for my lightest wheelset and just for fun I will put on my slickest tires. Makes it very easy to ride off the front of the group but the down hills are just amazing, climbing is pretty easy too.

With my usual Sunday morning faffing I manage to leave the house late but with the Grin Machine in speed mode I still get to Godalming early but not first. Today we are going to be joined by the technical expert – aka Chris J. But it’s the fine carbon rod alongside the waterbottle cage that catches my eye. “What’s that?” I enquire. “A bike stand.” And I am shown how it works. Seriously, it the nattiest bike stand I have ever seen. (See: http://upstandingbicycle.com/shop/the-commuter-upstand/)

Six of us start the ride and none too soon as the sun was not out to warm us up. Fascinating to hear of the Vinsons’ bike fit experience. Hours of moving parts and tweaking and glad to hear that Heidi is convinced; looks a much more relaxed position. Coffee at Horsham – you know, we are going to have to rename it and call it tea as most of us now drink tea – always two cups in the pot and some places will give you more hot water if you ask. Hunger pangs got the better of me and additional cake was required. All this cycling is having a noticeable effect on my metabolism. Bring on the cake!

Horsham, WarningLid (wonder how it got its name), then due south to Woodmancote and on to Fulking – gorgeous lanes save for the two cars coming the other way. The sun came out and the riding was just, well, gorgeous. Quick stop for a photo of the spring (hopefully Chris J will upload) and then the road alongside Edburton Hill and Truleigh Hill. The gravel path by the River Adur has been upgraded, so no worries there for the tires. 62 miles to the airport and it wasn’t busy at all. The wind was noticeable and as the waiter brought out our food we lost half the crisps, blown off our plates (and my tea called down rather quicker than I would have liked).

Just before Steyning, on the return, we temporarily lost Clive as he went to purchase some rhubarb.IMG_20160529_153320

And then that lovely run up to Billingshurst and Wisborough Green. Am I allowed to wax lyrical about the Grin Machine? It is just so…..alright I won’t, but it is aptly named. We took a major risk at the Old Mill Café – we asked how he was going to vote in the EU referendum. He is very passionate about everything he thinks is wrong with Europe. His almond treats are expensive but at 98% almond – really lovely.

And the final leg to home with Clive and the two Chris’ peeling off at appropriate turnings. Time to put the Grin Machine through its paces once more. Home at 7:15, 109 miles at just over 14mph. Brilliant ride and I no longer collapse exhausted when I get home. That’s the life!

A few notes from Chris Juden:

As we approached the Downs on a lovely little lane I stopped for a leak and relieved of… the pressure to keep up, temporarily went into actual touring mode. Instead of the wheel in front I properly observed my surroundings. With hands now on the tops (it won’t hurt them to wait a few seconds longer) I took my time and even a photograph! For at Fulking I spotted a village pump-house, complete with apt biblical text, where water still gushes directly from the ancient spring. Apparently this source has never run dry and it was none other than the geologist and social reformer John Ruskin, who arranged for a hydraulic ram, powered by that incessant flow and sheltered by such a neat little house, to force a due proportion of life-giving water up to the adjacent village, thereby saving the villagers a good deal of labour with buckets and bowsers.
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It was not far after lunch, which one might reasonably assume to be the halfway point, that I noticed with a mixture of pride and alarm, a somewhat bigger number on my kilometer-ometer than I’d seen it display at any point of any day’s ride for the past six months! The northerly wind also made itself felt much more keenly, now we were pointed that way, so I resolved to be a lot more careful not to expend unnecessary energy and went into unashamed wheel-sucker mode. As the label of Chris B’s jacket implies, he makes an excellent ‘windstopper’!
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Clive wasn’t such a good windbreak however. The wind has a way of sneaking under his saddle and hitting a regular fellow full in the chest and this particular afternoon, those juicy sticks of rhubarb dancing just out of reach were quite a distraction – so red I thought they looked a bit like he was jet-propelled with an after-burner! Not so vivid in the photo however. Must have been the endorphins and the fact I was ever so slightly cream-crackered.
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But I made it, safe home with 141km along and 1620m of up on the clock. Nothing special for the sporty Julian, but quite something for a hedonistic cyclist like me!