Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Antidote

After the inevitable conversation about their respective and contrasting Valentines nights' exploits Jon and Al set off from the house, leaving Matt behind to his 'studies', Al looking an ill man - worse for wear due to a serious bout of man-'flu. Local guide Jon picked one of the TCA's favourite short routes; up the trundle and around Goodwood to Charlton. The pair set off at a fair rate having not ridden for at least a couple of weeks but it was soon noted that Al was suffering and lagging behind significantly, complaining that it felt as if he had only one lung. The stretch along side the Goodwood motor racing circuit was hard going due to recent rain but finding the least muddy and wet part of the track next to circuit's fencing we made steady progress.

Once back on the road we sped through East Lavant and past the Royal Oak and onto the Trundle. This is one of Jon's favourite and well practiced uphills therefore it was agreed that the riders would meet at the top. Jon duely got to the top with ease and could see Al's flickering lights gradually ascending some way behind, he could also see another set of lights catch up and soon overtake the stricken Al! Is it a bird, is it a plane, had Matt decided to come after all to exorcise the trundle demons?! No, an even more unlikely scenario was unfolding - we had met another mountain biker! This is a rare occurrence for the TCA in the winter and Jon chatted enthusiastically with the lone rider at the top for what felt like half an a hour whilst waiting for Al, who by now was in some respiratory distress.

We eventually went our separate ways (Al and Jon, and the lone biker) and tranversed along the trundle on open, exposed downland towards Goodward horse racing track. There was a bracing head wind but this was nothing compared to the infamous "Winter Olympics" snow-biking night we had with Billy Bob last year. Once across the down there was a satisfying, steep downhill towards the horse racing circuit. We then joined the road past the main grandstand after which Jon decided to ride along the horse rutted grass verge which was hard work; Al preferred to conserve energy but compromise on fun by taking the easier option of riding the road alongside. Soon both riders were off the road heading down Chalk Road track through Charlton Park (although Al almost went wrong momentarily heading off towards East Dean on his own). The descent was muddy, wet and slippery - front wheels seemed to be have a mind of their own!

The time of night for refreshment soon arrived as we approached The Fox Goes Free in Charlton. A pint of Ruddles County re-energised us at the bar and the now traditional posing for photographs (below) seemed to entertain the locals. On the road again, we rode up Knight's Hill; a steep and cold uphill unwelcome after coming straight out of the warm pub, Al's breathing difficulties exacerbated by the smoky conditions in the bar at the Fox. A slight diversion from the usual route at the top of the hill took us via a short cut over Cross Dyke towards the car park by the top of the Trundle. It was demanding following the path through grass but we soon sped down the trundle track, Chalkpit Lane past the site of Matt's spot of bother. [Al easily making up for his lack of pace on the same part of the track earlier in the evening, becoming quite cold and bored as he waited at the bottom for Jon to make his sloth-like progress down the hill, Ed.]. The next port of call was the local gastropub, the Royal Oak for a pint of Badger accompanied by some classy home made vegetable crisps.

Al, full of cold, struggles to get to the bar before the auto-timer.
Jon enjoys his pint alone.

Homeward bound then and Al stopped moaning and went into Duracel mode fueled by deep-fried parsnip, taking to heart Jon's local advice on how to ride the Goodward motor racing circuit section more efficiently. It was Jon's turn to lag on the muddy section but the duo soon arrived home for nosh in the form of a Hungarian Goulash, which it has to be said was not up to the usual high TCA standard - exercising the jaw muscles rather more than the taste buds - but filling a gap nevertheless. We took the taste away with some delicious millionaire's shortbread.

(Posted by: Jon)

Route Maps:

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

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