Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fox Saves the Day

We had decided the week before to undertake the 'Long Chichester Ride', for the first time since July 2007. It was a fine summer evening and Jon arrived home from work to find Paul and John already checking over their bikes and kit - the omens looked good and conditions were perfect. After being let into the house cups of tea were served and everyone helped themselves to a French Fancy [For the benefit of our international readers this is a variety of fondant cream cake, not a lady of ill repute, Ed.]. Al was running late and had rang earlier suggesting that the three others ride ahead; he would catch up on account of his superior fitness. However, the other riders waited graciously for Al, who quickly gulped down a cup of tea and a French Fancy on arrival but grumbled that these particular cakes were not in keeping with the general image that the Association had worked hard to cultivate.

Al's late arrival meant that we set off with an amended plan - we now aimed to go beyond Chalton and then through West Dean, past the charcoal burners, then back down the Lavant valley. Steadily we went round the Goodwood motoring circuit, up Chalkpit Lane and on to the Trundle. John was King of the Trundle this week, the others were suspicious as to whether there was some surreptitious training going on.

John welcomes the stragglers
at the top of the trundle

At the top of the climb we turned right towards Goodwood horse circuit and Chalton. Jon casually mentioned that we might have to miss the pub at Chalton in order to travel a bit further, but immediately there were protestations from the ranks. Billy-Bob wanted his pint at Fox Goes Free! The route winds around the Trundle offering fantastic views of Chichester and it's hinterlands, and then incorporates a useful short downhill section towards the Goodwood Grandstand, where there was an eye-catching party going on. On the road now, we cycled past the horse racing circuit and then through Chalton Park on a bridleway along Chalk Lane to Chalton. While John and Al lead the ride together, John shot ahead on the steep drop into the village leaving Al to wonder about his form and/or suspension set-up.

There was no question of passing the Fox Goes Free - John and Al had quickly ordered 4 pints of Reg's Tipple, a pint that generated some debate: Some thought that it had a distinctive fruity taste with peaty overtones (John/Jon) but some thought it was just plain bland, with a slightly sickly backnote (Billy-Bob/Al); sadly there was no bearded CAMRA man on hand to settle the issue. However the choice of the next part of the route generated even more debate and discord;behind time for the original plan, we just could not decide where to go next. Eventually it was agreed that we would go back towards the top of Chalkpit Lane by the Trundle and take a right into the Lavant valley taking in a good downhill involving a steep grassy field.

Arguments rage at the Fox over the route ahead

We started the slog up Knights Hill with John well ahead again. Al immediately had technical difficulties and appeared to have got a large spanner out to adjust a jockey wheel. On closer inspection Paul and Jon saw it was a big stick that had got itself lodged in Al's rear derailier . Eventually we were off-road again and made our way through a meadow to the west of the trundle mound which was abundant with wild flowers, including pyramid orchids and yellow rattle. At the top of Chalkpit Lane, we turned right along the edge of a cornfield with Al uncharacteristically trailing due to further technical problems. We all raced down the grassy hill though, then followed the trail in the direction of East Lavant and the Royal Oak. This section was largely uneventful although John was berated for a minor departure from gate-opening protocol. Once at the pub there was no debate about the beer to have at the Royal Oak, as Skinners Betty Stogs was on tap, a brew from Cornwall that was the staple at Billy-Bob's wedding.

Rather than go back the way we came alongside the Goodwood circuit, we rode back through a bridleway leading to Summersdale, north Chichester for a change. It involves cycling past, and avoiding, a ford. Nevertheless Al took great pleasure in trying to barge Jon into it: Simple things please simple minds. Back at the house, spiced Moroccan lamb with couscous was served which went down very well with all concerned.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

Elevation Profile (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Jon)

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 9:30 pm, July 07, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

I agree, French Fancies are no good. Viennese Whirls are far more sustaining.

The Pyramid Orchids sound interesting, a species I have not seen myself.

At 5:48 am, July 08, 2008, Blogger simon said...

yes- but what are the new front forks like??


Post a Comment

<< Home