Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lone Ranger

While the lights were already on charge Jon called in with 'rear end trouble' (in the biological sense rather than some technical bicycle- related complaint) so I was left on my own, all geared up and nowhere to go (above, left). I opted for an old favorite route of mine - usually reserved for training rides and marathon training - the 'Bat & Ball to Old Winchester Hill Ridge ride'. Solo off-road riding in the winter at night is probably not the best advised activity therefore I chose a relatively quiet route, but one where it would be perfectly apparent to passing motorists that there was a fallen cyclist in the road if I did have a mishap. I double-checked my kit this evening too, there would be no borrowing new chain links, inner tube patches or a pump if something went wrong.

It was a bit murky as I made my way out of the village up towards Broad- Halfpenny Down, the cricket pitch and the Bat & Ball pub (right) (where, it is reputed, rules for the noble game of crickets were first written down). As I climbed the hill towards the South Downs the drizzle got heavier and the mist got thicker; not a pleasant evening but at least it wasn't too windy. I was on my 'road' bike: For those technically minded readers amongst you it is an old Giant 'Cold Rock' with a light aluminum frame and CroMo forks. It was originally sold to me as a good 'all-rounder' but, rather frustratingly I soon discovered that it's lack of suspension forks meant that I would have to buy a more sophisticated machine as I graduated to more challenging off-road riding. However, the simple modification of replacing the standard issue 'nobbly' tires with slicks (Specialized Nimbus) transformed the bike into a perfect on-road training bike. (I would urge anyone reading this who uses their mountain bike mainly on the road, but who still has off-road tires fitted, to try this - the difference in rolling resistance is almost incredible).

After the ridge ride to Old Winchester Hill I'd had enough of the murk and descended quickly into Soberton off the edge of the downs. I rode past our regular watering hole, the White Lion and carried on back over the hill towards home. I took a convoluted route back into Hambledon, losing my altitude gradually rather than the more usual kamikaze descent of Cams Hill. I'm really pleased with this decision as it provided the high point of the ride, a close encounter with a young badger, in fact such a close encounter that I had to slam my brakes on to avoid running it over! A sighting of some nocturnal wildlife is always a thrill on a TCA night out; the occasional fox or owl are special enough but badgers are my personal favorite. This route eventually took me past my local, and 'Good Pub Guide' listed, Vine which I could not resist. The tankard my brother gave me on his wedding day as thanks for sorting out the pre-nuptial piss-up and getting him back alive hangs behind the bar where it's been gathering dust a little recently. However it was a delight to again see it filled (with a pint of Jennings Cocker Hoop) while I caught up with the land lady, Vicky (above, left). Vicky's hubby and resident chef popped his head round the kitchen door to say 'hi' too. Two nicer publicans you would be hard-pushed to find, just another thing that's so good about living in Hambledon. I had a punt on the Vine whiskey lottery too - an opaque bottle on the optics which is filled between 1/2 an 3/4 full. A shot of whiskey is free but - beware - if yours is the last dram you have to stump up Ā£25 to refill the bottle! A really good idea, particularly this evening as I was relieved to see the sight glass slowly refill...

My chat with the few locals and bar staff went on somewhat longer than expected so, after three pints of Cocker' inside me, I meandered the hundred yards or so home and threw the bike back in the garage. I had a makeshift dinner of stir-fried pork, apple and spring onion sandwich and a can of Guinness as I tried to focus on Desperate Housewives and reruns of the Cricket while downloading the evening's pictures (above, right).

Route Map (click to see full size):

Stats (click to enlarge):

Elevation profile (click to enlarge):

Speed Profile (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Al)

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At 8:22 am, March 24, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Hey mate! I like the software,16.5 miles is a good solo effort. There is a correlation between altitude and your speed profile, a slight time lag after the high points - nice.

3 pints of Cocker eh? Good job the optic was full otherwise it would have been more pricey than the usual TCA night!

At 3:10 pm, March 24, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Hhhm, after a tin of Carlsberg on an empty stomach after rassing, i read that as "I had a pint of the Vine whiskey".

At 6:31 pm, March 24, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

BB, Maalie - I forgot to mention my badger sighting so I have amended the blog slightly since your comments.


At 8:09 am, March 26, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Just noticed your last picture (back at home): don't let that beer get too close to your computer!

At 9:03 am, March 28, 2007, Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Good going TCA!

Do you think it becomes more difficult, psychologically, to continue onwards when conditions are not favourable and there is not the steady presence of other TCA members and affiliates there in the flesh to encourage and challenge?

Not that I suggest you are in any way inferior, simply because you are on your own, but wondered if it was significantly more or less bolstering to have or lose the company?

At 10:40 am, March 28, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Even alone in body the TCA is always with you in spirit, like the Jedi Force.

With membership of the TCA therefore comes the heavy burden of responsibility to uphold at all times the ancient code which has spurned such adages as 'Bring it on!' and 'Go hard or go home!'.

The motto you coin "continue onwards when conditions are not favourable" could almost be a passage directly out of the fabled TCA Rules and Regulations book! This attitude is incumbant on all members at all times, alone or as a group.

Here endeth the lesson.


At 5:52 am, March 29, 2007, Blogger Ju's little sister said...

I see what you are saying, and understand that the TCA may be in many ways like the Force.

I was wondering if there was a difference between 'there in spirit' and 'there in the flesh?'

At 9:15 am, March 29, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

deep and meaningful questions indeed JLS. I think members of the TCA are one of those breeds where to continue onwards even if conditions are unfavourable is an experience enjoyed and often sought. Of course it is far more enjoyable to share the experience among like minded members but the attitude and drive is firmly entrenched in each of us where ever we may be.

At 11:02 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

"...there would be no borrowing new chain links, inner tube patches or a pump if something went wrong."

Sounds an awful lot of bother...

Good to see the tankard back in action!!!

At 8:46 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

"Sounds an awful lot of bother..."

No pain; no gain.

At 8:51 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

"Sounds an awful lot of bother..."

It's no bother really, every time one has an 'incident' with no eqipment at hand to fix the problem one procures said equipment at the earliest available opportunity. It all goes quite neatly into a small under-saddle bag. The pump and other extras can go in the pockets of the CamelBakĀ® (hydration system). No need to assemble all these bits before every ride.

At 11:04 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

... and you can always pick your bike up, sling it over the shoulder fireman style and jog home. Have you ever been breathalized when cycling?

At 11:42 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

No, our only notable encounter with the forces was when Billy-Bob and I got 'buzzed' by a Chinook helicopter when we shone our super-bright lights at it.



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