Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Ride 2006

Adrian and Julie kindly offered to host this years annual 'Xmas Poof's Ride' from their base in Nywood. Freezing fog may have been shutting down the domestic transport system, with all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick cancelled, but there was no keeping the TCA down! It was a bitterly cold (-3C) pea-souper of a night; a thin layer of ice had formed on both Jon and Al's bikes while they were strapped to the cars for the journey's from Arundel and Hambledon respectively. There was much jumping around the farm yard and clapping of hands to keep warm before the off, from Ad's parents' place, while the final adjustments were made... to the tinsel which adorned the helmets, rather than the more usual technical adjusments the group are more accustomed too.

The TCA Xmas ride is traditionally a gentle, sociable road ride taking in a couple more beers than usual. This year we planned to do a circular route taking in three of the best pubs in the area around Elstead and South Harting. Using country lanes we headed north towards Steadham. The ride was a generally unevenful affair at a slower pace than usual; although it was extraordinarily cold speeding up to get warm seemed to be more detrimental than helpful due to increased wind-chill! Also of note was a bizzare display of Christmas lights in a field apparently in the middle of nowhere, somewhere on a country lane near Iping: A large ring of illuminated tents, fairy lights and festive paraphernalia were strewn around the field with no reasonable explanation. It was an eerie sight with no obvious power source miles from the nearest building. Jon was keen to investigate but the others thought it too sinister - it had a definite touch of the Blair Witches about it - and pressed on to the first pub, The Elstead Inn. Al's first attempt to order a round was unsuccessful as his mouth was so numb with cold he could not enunciate the word 'beer'. However, using the language of internationally recognised hand signals, 3 lagers and 3 bitters where obtained and paid for.

The Executive Committee in Session
(Left to right: Jon, Al, Ad)

As if the festive season wasn't enough cause for celebration Ad pointed out that this was a record turnout for the TCA with 6 riders in force - hearty toasts were made, as is by now customary, to our various absent members and for the continued success of the TCA into the New Year. In truth the first pints didn't really touch the sides and, to the disbelief of the local punters, we were off into the freezing fog again heading for the Three Horseshoes a mile down the road. The distance was covered in record time by Matt - like a horse whisperer Al quietly pointed out to him that the sooner we got to the pub, the sooner we would get our next beer - he shot off like a rocket!

After another swift pint, and more hearty toasts in the 'shoes, it was a fairly flat run to South Harting (albeit quite dark as lights were running low), Al teaming up with Matt to guide the way and, using his new coaching techniques (any mention of beer), coaxed the last ounce of speed out of him! The White Hart was our last stop for a pint (and round of toasts) of the evening; having pronounced 2006 one of the best, discussion turned to activities for the New Year. Ad and Ju move to pastures new over the holiday (Devizes) and a commitment was made to try out this potential new site. With the riders in good spirits for the short ride back to Nyewood a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas ensued (up until 'eight-maids-a-milking' anyway, as no one could remember nine). If the ride wasn't good enough then what awaited our return was exactly what six-cyclists-a-freezing could have wished for: Chicken soup with crusty bread; cottage pie; mince pies and cream laced with brandy, and all washed down with a bottle (yes, a whole bottle) of Jura single malt donated to Al on his last birthday by Billy-Bob [Cheers! Ed.]. Needless to say, queue more hearty toasts.

The TCA festive party
(Left to right: Julie, Jon, Matt, Ad, Al, Jerry)

Thanks to Ad and Ju for organising a fitting end to a brilliant TCA year, thanks to Ad's folks for letting us crash at their's for the night. Thanks also to everyone who's come out for a ride in 2006, we look forward to seeing you again in the New Year, and finally thanks to all the readers of TCA2006 for your encouragement; your comments are always appreciated!

...see you on a bike in 2007!

Route Map:

(Posted by: Al)

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At 11:13 pm, December 24, 2006, Blogger simon said...

Merry Christmas day! :o)

At 1:37 pm, December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all, just passing through, thought I'd wish everyone a happy new year. Beautiful area for cycling, round Midhurst, nice pubs too. Bit cold at the mo!
Val :-)

At 8:36 am, January 03, 2007, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Hoorar! A splendid end to a dam fine TCA year. Hope the Jura hit the spot and warmed the cockles on a nice cold night.

What will 07 bring I wonder! a few new routes may be?


At 11:09 am, January 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy new year to all at the TCA.

At 7:14 pm, January 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi TCA 2006, I only know Carwyn Fowler because he left a nice comment on my blogspot one day. I will be round your way (Catisfield) over Easter - know any good cycling routes?

At 7:16 am, January 04, 2007, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

My Goodness Val Badger, what a very small world it is. Are you in the same Morris troop as a certain Jo and Julia per chance?? if so please send them my regards. I am sure they will know Billybob and the nocturnal cycling forays of the TCA. Julia's Mitch once ventured out with us many moons ago I recall.


P.S. Follow the old Meon Valley railway north from Catisfield past the old Funtley brickworks and that takes you nicely into Wickham and beyond up as far as Meonstoke.

At 10:28 am, January 04, 2007, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Do we know any good routes Val badger? Catisfield, eh? Are you kidding?! That's the historical stomping ground (see "...more about the history..." on the main page of our site.

Billy-Bob's advice is as sound as always but might get you a bit muddy at this time of year... this was our regular weekly ride for years, all the way up the the Forest of Bere (see links).

An alternative (road-based) route would be through Titchfield picking up the back roads to Titchfield Haven. Great views across the Solent, bit of bird watching if that's your bag. A few nice pubs too... the Wheatsheaf in Titchfield always scored high for the quality of their ale, and the Queen's Head is a good, decent boozer.

Billy-Bob, what's the name of that pub at Hill Head with the good views and food and an even better pint of Badger?


PS Look out for our next posting, or Google 'railway embankment challenge' we have posted maps with a section of the rialway line BB mentions.

At 10:32 am, January 04, 2007, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

P.S. Correction.. you have to Google "Revenge Railway Embankment Challenge" to be furnished with maps...

I thought I recognised the Morris outfit! Give my regards to Jo if you catch up with her..


At 4:22 am, January 07, 2007, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Ahh, that Hill Head pub would be the Osborne View and there are mighty fine scones to be had at the Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve tea room.


At 8:26 pm, January 08, 2007, Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Glad to see you are all in fine form!
It may definitly be winter for the TCA - but it certainly ain't summer here :-(

At 4:44 am, January 09, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Dam right its not summer! I have just had my Cricket Game cancelled here at Seddon Park. No Black Caps v Sri Lanka today :o(


At 9:33 am, January 10, 2007, Blogger Ju's Mum said...

I am so impressed with your commitment on such a miserable evening. Well done all of you ! Ju it is wonderful to see you wearing you Crusaders top !!!

Happy New Year to you all.


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