Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Ride 2007

Chichester was chosen as the venue for this year's ride - Jon, in his capacity as host, presented riders with generous slices of Yule log with their tea on arrival . There was some debate as to the festive route - Jon had two alternatives in mind and argued that we should tackle a longer, semi-off-road route with one or two stops, while Matt and Al preferred a less challenging, pub-strewn excursion. Eventually a trip up and over the Trundle with a liberal sprinkling of drinking holes was settled as Al, John, Matt, Ad and finally Jerry (resplendent with shiny new full-susser) kitted up in the drive. Spirits were high for this highly-anticipated annual event; Ad in particular was beside himself with excitement!

We set off through the city centre and, with lane selection not a skill usually required by the TCA, soon realised that the drivers of Chichester were not yet ready to extend good tidings of great joy to the riders seemingly weaving randomly through their streets. Back on more familiar territory we eventually headed north out of the city on the cycle path familiar to participants of the Chichester Challenge. Jon led the way, taking his guiding duties seriously on this auspicious occasion, and safely found the Earl of March before too long.

A festive toast at the Earl of March
(left to right: Matt, Al, Jon, Ad, John, Jerry)

Hearty toasts were drunk to the TCA and to absent friends, celebrating another year in the saddle. The pints of London Pride however were soon drunk; time to put back on thermal layers and waterproofs, and head out into the night once more. We were bound for the Trundle, the only really challenging part of the ride we had in mind. The pace was more sedate than usual as the friends caught up with each other's news but soon all were assembled at the top ready for the descent by road to Singleton. Ad and Al led the way on this exhilarating drop - clocking 44.8mph before reaching the Partridge Inn.

While the other riders were sure that the TCA had never visited this establishment before Al realised that this was where he and Billy-Bob had broken their epic south-downs over-night hike (to eat what felt like their own body weight in Sunday dinner) in the pre-blog days. We trooped into the bar to the bemusement of the diners and pitched our spot near the obligatory Christmas tree.

Another toast to absent friends,
Partridge Inn, Singleton

With beers once more consumed we set off by road to Charlton and the Fox Goes Free, a more regular TCA stop. By now, with two pints inside them on an empty stomach and pulses raised by the descent to singleton, Ad and Al were engaged in a jousting match, finally culminating in a race to the pub which in true seasonal fashion was declared a draw. The Fox's garden was resplendent with an enormous Christmas tree beneath which bike were parked (below).

...see you for a ride in 2008

We left the pub dreading the next section of the ride - the long, steep ascent (albeit by road) back up towards the Goodwood racing circuit at the top of the downs. Eventually we reached the top of our climb and realised we had some dissent in the ranks - some favoured a trip back down the trundle - a departure from our planned descent by road to TCA favourite, the Royal Oak - while the majority of the party felt it unwise to tackle this the wrong side of three pints. Jerry (who was only the wrong side of two pints and keen to give his new bike a good thrashing) and Ad (who was still delirious with excitement) threw caution to the wind and headed cross-country for Chalk Pit Lane (indicated by the dotted line on the route map).

The four road-based riders sped towards the Royal Oak and were strangely satisfied to see the lights of the other two in the break-away party on the hill far above them. John, Jon, Matt and Al reached the pub (below) first but were rather put-out by the lack of festive ambiance (not even a Christmas tree!). The beer however was rather good and they soon forgot about this minor detail.

Merry Christmas without the decs. at the Royal Oak

Departing the Royal Oak we were taken by surprise as we rode directly towards a magnificent firework display, which the party assumed was something to do with the nearby Rolls Royce factory. This was the icing on the cake of a magnificent ride and spirits were high for the short trip back to Jon's place, Ad insisting that we really should think about singing a carol or two.

Jon had a real treat in store at home - he had cooked Fricasse of Turkey (and all the trimmings!) served on a bed of noodles for the occasion. He had also laid on winter ale as an accompaniment and mince pies with brandy butter for pudding - terrific!

Have yourself a Merry TCA Christmas with
Jon's Festive Turkey Fricasse

With all the food gone Jerry headed for home as Al cracked open the after-dinner whiskey (laid on by a Founding Father as dictated by ancient custom and practice). Thanks as ever to Jon, who allowed everyone to stay overnight, for his excellent hospitality. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all!

Route Map (click to enlarge):
Elevation Profile:

(Posted By: Al)

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At 7:51 am, December 19, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Glad you were able to celebrate my birthday in style!

At 4:25 pm, December 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Maalie and Guys I am still delerious with excitment!!!!!! And looking forward to the TCA (Devizes) Christmas Ride in a few days time!


At 10:15 pm, December 19, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I think you guys have it right over there. I like the idea of riding and drinking at the same time.

Merry Christmas to you and your riding gang.

At 5:18 am, December 20, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Many Happy returns Maalie. A splendid ride by all accounts and good to see no new trundle injuries. Jon's Festive Turkey Fricasse?!! times have changed.

Riding and drinking - its the way ahead.

Christmas greetings TCA UK.


At 8:22 am, December 20, 2007, Blogger TCA said...

Happy Christmas TCANZ! Maybe We'll be TCA reunited for the 2008 Xmas Poof's Ride?

Merry Christmas Chris! In fact, deep in the mists of time when we were novice riders, we only started this lark for the drinking - we are blessed in this part of the country with many a fine country pub and we soon found that a mountain bike extends the range of these hostelries one can visit by an order of magnitude!

We are cycling charlatans!


At 12:43 pm, December 24, 2007, Blogger Maalie said...

Happy Festivities to all at TCA!

At 9:12 am, December 26, 2007, Blogger simon said...

merry christmas and a happy new year to you all!

Written from the Maalie court!


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