Thursday, May 25, 2006

West Marden Meltdown

Ride: Harting Route #1 - Victoria Inn, West Marden
Present: Ade, Al, Jon, Julie

We set off at a frantic snails pace as Ad was poncing around with his hair before the off: The hair was good but lights and spares for both his and Julie's bike were sadly lacking. Much abuse from the eager Al and Jon (who had cycled around the yard at least five times trying to get Ad to move his ass) obviously ensued.

The ride out and up onto the Downs was fairly uneventful other than Ad having to return to base for his helmet (prompting yet more abuse) and then peddle like the wind to catch up. We peaked near Foxcombe above South Harting and traveled downhill through Forestry Commission woodland, mud and puddles to Hucksholt. Julie's Chain broke (under extreme peddle power) on the descent so Al whipped the bike over and fixed the chain in a flash with his nifty kit and well honed skills.

We met the Chichester Road for a short while then got back onto the preferred surface, Mud... and plenty of it, through the sheep fields and the mini Deer Park (no sightings though), along to West Marden. Although it was a beautiful, warm sunny evening the previous week's heavy rain had left the trail very wet and boggy. On the descent into the village Al and Julie both heard the tell-tale hiss of punctures so proceeded as fast as possible to maximize pub-based fixing time so we could get back up to full strength. We found a wicked downhill jump section (seemingly through a private garden) just before the pub which we look forward to trying out again at faster speeds! In Ad's haste to guide the way to the pub, he braked far too late before turning in and skidded sideways down the tarmac trying to correct it. After about 10 meters or so it was corrected, but (ooops!) too far and he flipped round the other way, just managing to keep upright using all the luck available - a good TCA effort. If only Al, who was following closely, had had a video camera replays would have been shown ad nausium!

To cool the nerves, Al (shoes off, as we were very muddy indeed) took to the bar of The Victoria Inn to supply the liquid refreshment (three pints of Timothy Taylor's 'Landlord' for the boys and a fizzy lager for Ju). After some debate about appropriate portions Julie, being probably the cleanest member of the team, entered the pub for the traditional packets of crisps each. We then set to fixing punctures, Al's had intriguingly disappeared (only to be apparent again when back at base), but Ad had also developed a puncture by this time (perhaps precipitated by his near-off antics?) so the puncture fixing tally remained at two. Jon and Al agreed that it had been some time since the TCA had encountered such a technical meltdown on a single ride, and that it was significantly less trivial sorting these problems out if you had not made it to the nearest pub to tackle the problems, had not got the right spanners, it was dark and the temperature was sub-zero!

After demonstrating our team-work on the repair efforts we traveled down through the village and on up the other side past Locksash Farm and up to the first Telegraph Hill. There followed an exhilarating, long down-hill section off Telegraph, punctuated by a series of speed bumps which Al and Ad relished for the air! That fun over we had the long drag through the very grassy track and over the Chichester/Harting road and on up the gully between Harting Down and Beacon Hill. Through a stroke of luck Jon and Al saw to it that we took the higher of two tracks as the National Trust have erected a new fence straight across the tracks and only placed a gate in the higher one.

Once at the highest point it was a nasty drop down to East Harting through the cutting along the side of the Downs (subsequently christened 'The Devil's Toilet', as it was strewn with slippery logs, Ed.). Everyone had their own series of 'offs' and 'near-offs' before we took to walking in case we damaged ourselves. Once off the downs we were all very keen to get back to the farm for other fill of Julie's home cooking (Coq au Vin Blanc). This almost redeemed her broken chain incident, and after a generous slice of home made cake Al had completely forgotten the spare links he donated!

(Posted by: Ade)

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At 9:45 am, June 11, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Nice work Ade, sounds like a bit of a techinical epic that one! Glad to see the TCA tradition of naming memorable sections is alive. Devil's toilet! nice log mate. B.B.


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