Thursday, January 25, 2007

Veteran's Night

The celebratory TCA Burn's Night ride was accompanied by veteran cyclist Maalie whose cycling claim-to-fame was ownership in youth of a Claude Butler upon which he roamed the Essex countryside fishing and birdwatching. He arrived down from Cumbria to be greeted by the TCA co-founder, Worzel, at Headquarters in good time to meet the participating members, Matt and Jon as they arrived from work.

In deference to the veteran, a modest 14-mile road-route was selected taking us to the Hampshire Bowman in Dundridge, the home run via the White Lion, Soberton. By 6.30 pm the night was clear, calm and frosty and expectations for a pleasant ride were high. So began the extended ritual of kitting up , involving special skin-tight vests, extra thick socks, adjusting the straps of plastic helmets and the donning of fluorescent over-jackets. Matt's pink netting garment would have done justice to a lap-dancer's parlour. The follicularly challenged veteran questioned the slots in the helmets which would expose strips of his naked scalp to the freezing night air (indicated in picture below), but felt it was not the thing to point out that he anticipated strangulation by the tightness of the throat strap...

At length, with lights checked, chains oiled and toe-clips adjusted, the quartet set off into the night to explore the frosty (-4C) byways of Hampshire, with the veteran swerving wildly as he attempted to slot feet into toe clips on the move. As it happened, the ride started with the steepest hill of the course and, seeing the tail lights of the three spring chicken sprinting off up into the dark, the veteran was still trying to work out whether he should twist the handle bar grip forwards or backwards to change down through the gears. His leg muscles rapidly became metabolically anaerobic, and build-up of lactic acid obliged him to dismount and push the bike up the hill.

Thereafter, out of the consideration for the veteran, the pace was reduced and then began a most pleasant ride over the ridge-tops towards the Plough, Ursor major (a constellation, not a pub) in which, at this time of year, the pan-handle is oriented vertically down. All seemed to be going well until the vereran hit a rut and swerved violently. Applying both brakes to avoid crashing into Worzel's rear wheel, he slowed to a halt and, unable to release feet from the toe-clips quickly enough, he sort of toppled over and ended up on the tarmac. But no damage was done and the veteran was reassured that falling off the bike was in fact the initiation rite for formal membership of the TCA; Job done then.

With Jon hanging back to escort the veteran, a breathless conversation about their respective recent trips to Australia ensued. They conspired to form a splinter group and peel off at the nearest pub to continue their reminiscing in warmth and comfort, but this notion was stifled by the ride director who asserted that a scheduled stop at the Bowman was only just beyond the horizon. At length that pub was reached where welcome rest, warmth and refreshment [Stonehenge 'Spires' Ale, Ed.] of choice were enjoyed by all but Matt, who suffered in silence with an orange juice due to a New Year abstinence bet.

A toast to absent members, The Hampshire Bowman
(Left to right: Jon, Maalie, Matt, Worzel)

All too soon, the ride director ordered "Drink up" and it was back on with the helmets (frozen head syndrome alleviated by the loan of a thermal under-helmet skullcap; below, left) and flourescent jackets and out to confront the frosty night. The veteran noticed that the water in the bowl put out for dogs by the front door had frozen over... There followed an easy, largely down-hill cruise to the White Lion at Soberton where, knowing the back of the ride was broken, the stop was more relaxed. The veteran was hugely impressed by Matt's recall of historical football scores and Jon's knowledge of Australian birds.

The remaining couple of miles back to Headquarters, guided by Orion's Faithful Dog Sirius, passed with out incident, except for one last steepish hill where the veteran decided to invoke the ancient family motto Discretion is the better part of Fowler pushing the bike up the hill. In no time at all the quartet was welcomed by Strudles at H.Q. who soon had a suacepan of spaghetti bolognese bubbling on the stove.

Route Map:


(Posted by: Maalie)

Labels: , , , , , ,

20 Comments:

At 1:40 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

I have to add that I was disappointed by the evident absence of lycra, which I had come to believe was the hallmark of the TCA.

 
At 2:01 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Perhaps now that someone has seen our relaxed-fit garments with their own eyes this filthy rumour about lycra will be eradicated once and for all?!

W

 
At 5:15 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

What's wrong with a bit of lycra? The evening sounded wonderful. How many pubs do you manage to fit in on a normal run-of-the mill ride out?

 
At 5:23 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

TCA RULES & REGULATIONS:
Part 4, subsection c.

On a standard ride riders should expect to visit at least 1-2 pubs, on a regulation 'poofs' ride 2-3 and more on the annual Christmas ride (as many as possible).

 
At 7:39 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

I hope you're taking good care of His Majesty down there - I don't like the sound of those icy dark roads. Please make sure he wears the helmet at all time.

 
At 9:56 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger simon said...

well F#$%$ me!

Jim in Lycra? now all the sheilas would not cope! ahahah

Bloody good show mate!

 
At 11:02 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Sheilas?

 
At 11:20 pm, January 26, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Perhaps you could enrol me for a poufs ride sometime.

 
At 6:47 am, January 27, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

L the L: The TCA is an open church, you are welcome to come for a ride as soon as it can be arranged.

 
At 8:47 am, January 27, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

A historic ride me thinks with His Majesty on route and Matt drinking OJ??!!!. Glad to see the age old custom of kitting up in near baltic conditions was observed. Lycra?? what pish, never seen the stuff. Good work fella's.

B.B

P.S That is dam fine pub!

 
At 10:11 am, January 27, 2007, Blogger simon said...

Estelle:- "sheilas" is a term we use in Aus for girls....

I mean.. all the girls would Swoon if Maalie arrived dressed in lycra....

 
At 4:21 pm, January 27, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I don't think I would swoon if I saw Maalie in lycra. I've seen him dressed in a home-knitted swimming costume. If you think lycra doesn't leave much to the imagination, then you obviously haven't seen wet knitted swim wear.

 
At 5:21 pm, January 27, 2007, Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Simon, yes I can understand that, His Majesty is in very good shape. And I've heard all about Australia and your camper, you runcible fellows, and I prefer cold beer too. Though a glass of good French red wine for me any day.

 
At 11:08 pm, January 30, 2007, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I am pleased to read that there is such a celebrated veteran who likes to get off and walk up the hills. I thought I was the only one who did that.
Sounds like a great evening was had by all!

 
At 5:53 pm, January 31, 2007, Anonymous Ellee said...

Lycra is only flattering on slim thighs, they would not suit me. What a great tribute this is.

 
At 2:43 am, February 01, 2007, Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Maalie I'd be a bit concerned if I were you - all these ladies imagining you in lycra pants!!!
A bit dodgy!

I agree with B.B.

 
At 5:10 pm, February 12, 2007, Blogger Val Badger said...

Hello there
Lycra clad fit men, mmmmh. Not red lycra though otherwise you end up looking like Satan-on-a-bike, there is such a man that gets on the train occasionally.
Val ;-)

 
At 9:17 pm, February 12, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Val

You would have to ask our lady folk but I am reasonably sure that none of us qualify as 'fit' (in either context).

Lycra would only make the situation worse.

TCA

 
At 3:48 am, February 20, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Have you not been out since taking the poor old Maalie for a spin?

 
At 6:49 am, February 21, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Yes there appears to be a distinct lack of cycling action of late. Although I must say I am also wondering if my bike recognises me. Hopefully I will rectify this soon and once again don the cycling shorts....note shorts not lycra!

B.B

 

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