Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Extraordinary Inauguration Meeting

The next generation of associates was formally welcomed at an official extraordinary meeting. Beer was taken (Sainsburys Franconian Style Dark Lager) party food laid on, and the ancient cream slice ritual was invoked.

Associates Old and New
(Left to right): Al, Jimmy, É
lodie and Paul

Cycles were ceremoniously laid aside for the day as festivities continued well into afternoon nap-time.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Another New TCA Recruit

JAMES ALLAN was born at 7.57 on Saturday morning weighing 9lbs and 0oz (4.07kg for our continental friends). He seems to come ready equipped for life in the TCA with an innate aptitude for drinking and puking, although he is perhaps a little better looking than any of the current membership.

Jimmy Enjoying Uncle Billy-Bob's Trunk of Funk

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Devil's Drop-offs & Directional Disarray

Arriving early Jon enjoyed a customary cuppa at the National Trust Cafe before the others arrived: A few last minute phone calls were all it took to organize a rare weekend outing for him, Charlie, Ade and Julie. The ever popular Hindhead Common and Devil's Punchbowl car park was chocker-block with dog walkers, horse riders, bikers and alike but team TCA eventually found each other among the urban detritus, despite Julie’s inability to tell left from right [although it should be pointed out there is some debate whether Jon's notorious inability to accurately relate instructions was actually at fault, Ed.].

Dodging dog walkers and strollers provided ample entertainment at the start of the ride but the first downhill section was safely negotiated before appearing on the heathland of Hindhead Common. Unfortunately no one scored any points from hits – we wondered if there was anything in the Country Code to prevent one from so doing. We cycled through Highcomb Copse to Ridgeway Farm, tackling a challenging rutted track with drop offs which was narrow and steeply banked on both sides. We had our first stop to look at the map which Jon had brought at the last minute despite assurances from others (Ade) that they knew the way: In typical fashion we realised that we were on a wrong tack and should instead be riding down a rugged bouldered track towards Little Cowdray Farm. This section is a tester of suspension with more seriously tricky downhill drop offs, a test too stern for Julie's aging forks.

Portrait of a Couple in Love, with bikes
(Julie & Adrian)

Having negotiated the descent we chose to cycle through the Ford rather than across the Bridge and started the steep uphill towards the Farm. Ad managed to get to the top without stopping, Charlie nearly, but Jon and Julie crashed unceremoniously into the banks of the track towards the top and pushed the last few meters.

Back on the heath it was thirsty work as we cycled up gritty gravel paths into the sun. Again the realization hit us that we did not know the traditional route devised some years previous and last ridden in April 2006. Using a tried-and-tested TCA emergency procedure however, we agreed to head towards the vehicle noise along the A3 which we knew we had to cross at some stage. The tactic duly worked and we were through onto the other side in no time. It was noted that some riders at this stage appeared to turn for home towards the car park (we had only been riding for a hour and done about 3 miles or so). After a brief talking to, the whole group dropped downhill to the East and into an unknown wooded section. We had one stop to look at the map but gave it up as a bad job - all agreed we did not know where we were - even Charlie’s GPS did not yield any grid references and our concentration was disrupted by some redneck starting up his angle grinder in a shed right next to us [Is that round about way of saying you got lost, again? Ed.].

Ad burns up the trail

Taking the initiative Jon decided to ride where the best looking tracks were in the general direction of the car park. It was evident that some of this was in the Foot and Mouth exclusion zone evident from warning notices and disinfectant maps. Despite protests of "where are you taking us?" and "warn us of what is ahead!", everyone enjoyed some challenging up-and-downs, practicing BMX skills and attempted bunny-hops off the beaten track.

Jon attacks a drop-off

We got back to the car park and had a quick pint at the Devil's Punch Bowl Hotel bar following which Ade and Julie rushed off to do some baby sitting. Charlie and Jon went their separate ways after a while reminiscing about their trip to Afan .

Route Map (click to enlarge):

Altitude Profile:

(Posted by: Jon, Photos & Maps: Charlie)

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