Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Exton Economics

John’s early arrival meant that we could enjoy a leisurely cup of tea and a couple of bourbon biscuits before the off, debating the question ‘to dunk, or not to dunk’. The summer seemed to be holding out as John and Al kitted up for a Hambledon ride; offered a choice of route John opted to take the run to Exton via Old Winchester Hill that Jon P and Al had dusted off a couple of weeks before.

We only got two hundred yards down the road before Al had to haul his bike onto the pavement in the village to change an inner tube – it was obvious that the slow puncture festering in the back tyre for a few weeks had finally decided to become a proper leak. With parity restored the pair resumed the ride and took a small section of bridleway towards Chidden across a field of stubble. Having joined the road it was John’s turn to report a malfunction – he had somehow broken one of the right-hand gear-shifters. Thankfully only the very end of the lever had sheered off so John still had full use of the rear mech. and we were able to continue despite the mishap.

Mercifully we had an uneventful climb cross-country to the ridge of the south downs. Having reached the road we then turned west and climbed gently towards Old Winchester Hill at a sociable pace (after all it had been three weeks since the pair had been ona ride together and there was much to catch up on). A sign on the boundary fence of the reserve notified visitors of precautions which should be taken in light of the recent foot and mouth outbreak just a few miles north. We continued on towards the summit of the hill after disinfecting our wheels and shoes with the brush and solution provided . A clear, sunny evening afforded excellent views through 180 degrees from the Isle of Wight in the south, towards Beacon Hill in the West and north towards the Hog's Back.

John decontaminates his bike

Al decided it was about time we found the correct way off the hill (rather than proceed in a westerly direction as usual directly off the hill using the footpath). Al knew there was an alternative bridle path but had never had the inclination to find it on previous outings. After a Wizard-of-Oz-esque debate we plumped for the middle of three tracks and fortunately happened on the bridal path which eventually joined the footpath into Exton at the bottom of the hill. An alternative route into Exton follows the dried-up stream running alongside the footpath, or so it was when Jon and Al last used this trail. This evening the stream was about 6” deep so the pair adopted amphibious mode as they ducked under the overhanging vegetation (bringing back memories of ‘watery lane’ in East Worldham from TCA outings of yesteryear for Al). John seemed to relish this technical challenge and was beaming from ear-to-ear as he hauled his bike out of the stream when it finally became unnavigable.

Al and John enjoy the view from Old Winchester Hill

It was around the time we were decontaminating our bikes that it dawned on us that we had only £5 between us: Al had cleared out his back-pack and forgotten to top up the emergency cash pocket;e John had neglected to replace the fiver in the secret pocket of his jersey. It was therefore left to John to scrape together his loose change and see if he could buy the essential TCA refreshments. Quite impressively John returned with two (full) pints of Wadworths, explaining that a kind gentleman at the bar had overheard the tale of our predicament and bailed us out the 40p we were short. Enough to restore one’s faith in human nature! These two pints tasted particularly satisfying as we drank them overlooking the mill pond, watching grey wagtails and a kingfisher going about their business in the evening sun.

Finishing our discount ale we left Exton and rode the short distance to Meonstoke where we could pick up the disused railway line towards Soberton. Leaving the railway line we then cycled forlornly past the White Lion without stopping due to our depleted funds – no Palmers 200 for us tonight. Instead we headed up the hill directly towards Hambledon and the turkey jalfrazi that awaited our return. We watched a young Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout as we enjoyed our dinner, vowing that in future we should heed the Scout motto we both repeated weekly as boys; ‘Be Prepared’. Emergency funds will be double checked from this day forward!

Route Map (click to enlarge):
Elevation Profile:
(Posted by: Al)

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At 10:33 am, August 10, 2007, Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

Heartwarming tale about the beer! Nice blog.

At 4:12 pm, August 10, 2007, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Whatever happened to the water bottle attachment that fits onto the frame of the bike? Surely you can always carry an emergency can in that?

At 11:03 pm, August 10, 2007, Blogger simon said...

great account! great photo too on top of the hill!

I bought a new bike :o) A road bike- Cannondale Synapse.. it wll be ready tuesday....

At 4:58 am, August 11, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Another classic ride, although school boy era on the beer funds! thank goodness for the good samaritan Good moody shot atop the hill.

Hudson Hawk eh? as good as Die Hard 4.0 no doubt.

At 1:01 pm, August 14, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

>watching grey wagtails and a kingfisher going about their business in the evening sun

Yes, the nice thing about getting around on a bike.

At 5:36 am, August 17, 2007, Blogger simon said...

i agree with Mallie

At 5:56 am, August 20, 2007, Anonymous spm said...

Just back from Strontian in West Highlands and the venue for next years's Boys' Weekend. Important issues have been discusssed including what size barrel of beer night be required, how many mountains can we climb and more importantly for Al and Jon how much of the Fort William Mountain Bike Course are the loony bikers likely to want to do. The likely answer to the latter appeared to be all of it. Cue another Buriton - East Meon trip to discuss.

At 3:34 pm, August 28, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold the Phone - !!!

What are those things on Jon P's Feet, they look dangerously like SPD's to me, Bugger, he'll be far too quick up the hills now!!!

It looks like he made the best of the wash down facilities, while out on the route, must be the first time his bike has met with a brush?


At 8:48 am, August 29, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

John has SPD's! dam and twice dam, you are right there will be no stopping him now.

Never mind his bike, he needs a wash down.



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