Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life in the Freezer

With a springtime report from Patagonia and an autumnal account of a ride in Collingbourne it would truly be three seasons in one week for the TCA blog: Temperatures hovered just above zero as John and Al fettled their bikes for a decidedly wintery mid-week ride. Al had hoped to have lined up an exotic ride from the QE Park but histrionics from Jimmy following his eight-week jabs hampered Al's preparation so old faithful, Hambledon #1 route came to the rescue.

The conditions had been relatively dry for some time and the leaf litter was strewn across the bridlepaths. It was a clear night with a gibbous moon and it wasn't long before our tyres were crunching through the crispy frozen grass. We made good progress to the White Lion but we didn't hang around outside as usual; for the first time since January we sat inside to have our beers. Parting with tradition we chose a pint of Hole Hearted from Gosport-based Oakleaf Brewing Company. While we enjoyed our beers in a quiet corner we had to contend with a rather drunken Australian who insisted there must be something wrong with us for choosing to go cycling on such a night. It seemed that his tiny antipodean brain could not comprehend that if one chose the correct apparel one could be plenty warm enough.

A Toast to Absent Friends, The White Lion

Thankfully a rather larger antipodean brain had designed the Kathmandu thermal under-helmet layer that Al pulled on before braving the conditions once more. Jon looked on jealously has his ears got colder and colder - the temperature would drop below -4C before the end of the night. We had both worn the various layers we save only for the coldest of TCA outings: Neoprene gloves, Thermotech base layers, fleeces and windproof jackets... and long trousers for the first time this season - a sure sign that winter is upon us. We were thankful for every stitch as we hammered down the disused railway through the fallen leaves. It didn't take us long to reach the railway embankment. Jon wondered if he would ever crack this nut as he stalled about half-way up on both attempts.

Al Tames the Railway Embankment

With the taste of line cleaner still fresh in our memories as we climbed through the Forest of Bere we decided on a small modification to our usual route in search of an alternative to the Traveler's: Continuing down the road, towards Soberton Heath rather than the descent through the southerly part of the wood towards Newtown, we turned towards a pub that does not seem to have been documented in post-blog times, The Forest of Bere. Unfortunately the rather cosy lounge bar we usually frequent was crowded with people so we joined the Chavs in the public bar, Matt would have loved it we thought. Enjoying our pints of Crop Circle from the Hop Back Brewery sat at the bar it was soon time to remount, just as our toes were defrosting. We spied two other cyclists on our way out but paid them and their puny road bikes little attention. Our route home was to take us towards Soberton and back over the hill to Hambledon to record 14.5 miles for the evening as the temperature plumbed new depths.

Jimmy had had his Calpol by the time we got home and slept soundly at last while we enjoyed our beef stew with mash and afters of home-made apple crumble and custard. Entertainment was provided in the form of 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!' - tonight's stew certainly looked more appetizing than the witchetty grubs. Warm at last.

Route Map (Click to Enlarge):
Elevation Profile:
(Posted by: Al)

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At 11:52 pm, November 17, 2007, Anonymous Mrs BB said...

hmmmmm so how do we know who the successful embankment rider was? It could have been either one of you! Was it in fact Jimmy? Looks very Blair Witch out there at this time of year :o)
Well done chaps!

At 7:25 am, November 18, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

No I recognise that yeehoo call. The light started from the bottom of the embankment path then turned a sharp right up the mighty hill I am not mistaken.

Good to see the weather is returning to true TCA conditions!


At 12:34 pm, November 18, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Mrs BB

You should be able to see from the short, fat stature that it could only be but one TCA rider...


At 10:16 pm, November 19, 2007, Blogger simon said...

the beer looks good (as it always does!) :o)

At 10:29 pm, November 19, 2007, Blogger Ad said...

Good times, I long for another crack at the Embankment challenge -Wiltshire certainly has less challenging ups than the sOUTH dOWNS - MUST VENTURE FURTHER AFIELD! Bring on the Christmas Ride if i can make it!!!!

At 8:32 pm, November 25, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Yes, you should never count your money during a gibbous moon. Best to wait til the dealing's done.

At 11:17 pm, November 25, 2007, Blogger simon said...

hey i wanted to say night riding is very much a fun activity. I always find it SO different. ie I tend to pick a different line at night to what I would pick during the day.

oh! if you want to see a bit of the terrain i ride in.. drop into the Bits n bobs blog.

The trail on the weekend had roacks like broken bricks all over it! it was quite technical

At 11:17 pm, November 25, 2007, Blogger simon said...

roaks?? ROCKS!


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