Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hobgoblin Horror at the Traveler's Rest

Our pre-ride tea and cakes were polished off quickly as we rushed to get out; this evening provided almost perfect autumn conditions - a dry, mild dark night with soft (yet not too muddy) ground after the previous week's wet weather. Hitting the lights we turned onto bridle path at the top of Cams Hill to tackle (for the first time since June) our once regular 13.5 mile Hambledon route; the first time in many months that lights were required virtually from the off - a proper TCA night ride!

Early pace was sociable: Jon and a sleep deprived Al had not seen each other for a while and there was much to catch up on. Conversation occasionally turned to the impending Helly Hansen Challenge and the progress (or lack) of our training for the dreaded run section of the multi-discipline event. It soon became apparent that while Al had spent the last two weeks changing nappies Jon had been working hard - putting in 9km and 10km runs the previous week alone.

The going on the trail was perfect - the ruts on the bridle paths had been softened by the rain but the recent sunny weather had dried up the mud. Al could not work out how his shorts had got so wet on the short trip over to the White Lion. It has been mentioned before that Wednesday night is the big night in Soberton and this week was no different - all the regulars were there and seemed pleased to see the TCA contingent on their first Wednesday trip to the pub for several weeks. Having chatted to the various characters around the bar for a while the duo escaped to enjoy their pints outside on a mild star-lit night: Thermal base layers were in operation for the first time in many months and the warm bar was making things a little uncomfortable in all the layers! We chatted to a couple of ostracised smokers while we enjoyed our regular pints of Palmers 200.

Jon and Al enjoy a pint outside the White Lion

As we began to get back in the saddle Al realised the source of his wet behind - a rupture in the bladder of his hydration pack. Discarding what remained of his water Al remounted and the pair flicked on their lamps: The smokers marveled at our retina-burning lights (although Al actually felt that it was probably time for a new 12w spot light for his Lumicycle Li-ion lights his looked a little more dim than usual). Jon, lit up like a christmas tree with his 3-lamp VistaLite system led the way from the pub to the disused railway line where we geared the pace up a little. Taking it in turns to provide the relief of the slipstream for the other we made good progress. This section of the ride has proven over the years to be where we are most likely to encounter some nocturnal wildlife. Tonight it would provide the highlight of the ride, affording us an excellent view of a barn owl; as we rode two-abreast it crossed the beam from the lamps which blazed a tunnel of light down the trail.

We left the railway using the steep path up the railway embankment. Neither rider seemed in the mood to procrastinate over the railway embankment challenge this evening so we did not turn for a second attempt having wheeled our bikes to the top. We pushed on through the Forest of Bere, our conversation turning to the weekend's Rugby World Cup and Grand Prix, and to the following week's England European Football Championship matches.

We had a clear run through to the Traveler's Rest and parked our bikes out front, leaning them against new picnic tables. Inside there also seemed to be a bit of a refurbishment underway and a conversation with the bar staff revealed that the pub had changed hands (the third time in recent history) in April. The beer selection had also been revamped - the boy's eyes lit up as they saw Wynchwood's legendary Hobgoblin ale on draft. We waited as an inexperienced-looking bar maid disconcertingly pulled pint after pint of colourless fluid from the pump. After a brief chat with the manager she pulled another few clear pints before the characteristic dark nectar began to flow. We took our beers outside to savour the taste but a little way down the glasses we noticed a decidedly detergent-like aftertaste and a vinegary nose developing. Unfortunately we had tasted a sample at the bar and given our approval so we could hardly return for a replacement; unprecedentedly we left about a quarter of a pint in the glasses and saddled up with a bitter taste in our mouths (both literally and metaphorically).

A toast to absent friends, the Traveler's Rest
over the worst pint of Hobgoblin in TCA history


We enjoyed the gentle ride down the country lane bound for Hambledon and our dinner of chicken & mushroom balti, strawberries and cream and - a real special treat - Crocodile Dundee; "You call that a knife?". Lights will be a must on rides from now until until Spring - TCA season is upon us!

Route Map (click to enlarge)

(Posted by: Al)

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7 Comments:

At 6:04 am, October 08, 2007, Blogger simon said...

I did post about the wallabies scrum (bunch of pansies) it was like a collapsed souffle....

IS there anything worse than losing to England? Yep! losing to france.....

Great post BTW.....

 
At 7:46 am, October 08, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

A bad pint at the Travelors! shocking behaviour, lets hope it is a one off eh. Good to see them lights out once more.

Simon: I sincerely hope there is nothing like the witch hunt in Aus that is manifesting itself here, talk about national moarning!

B.B

 
At 8:02 am, October 08, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

...well if a half-witted English referee with allow Frederic Michalak the occasional forward pass the French are bound to win.

I think losing to England is worse though... I would tell how it feels losing to the Aussies but we haven't done that for so long I can hardly remember.

W

 
At 5:27 am, October 09, 2007, Blogger simon said...

Well I think we should sack our forwards and the coach

 
At 9:16 pm, October 10, 2007, Blogger Val Travers said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9:18 pm, October 10, 2007, Blogger Val Travers said...

Sorry, had to delete last coment due to spelin errer.
Sounds like you got a pint of line cleaner! Good job you didn't drink much of it. At least they clean their beer lines. Val's tip - always taste the beer before you serve it to customers.

 
At 2:17 pm, October 11, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Nice to see TCA back on the road after recent distraction! Have you looked at a baby-bike-trailer thingy?

Nice about the Barn Owl!

 

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