Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Haslemere to Hambledon Humdinger


Jon turned up just before 6:30pm for the Haslemere run, or so he thought, until Billy-Bob announced that it was a ‘new route’ and they were heading to Hambledon, Jon suddenly went pale then realised it was Hambledon, Surrey not the traditional training circuit containing many a favourite route of Blogs gone by. ‘Hurry up!’ Billy-Bob announced the timing tonight was now even more critical, as you shall see later. Jon quickly wolfed down some of Mrs Billy-Bob’s home made fancies, monitored closely by Billy-Bob.

The intrepid duo once again began the Haslemere route, without the rest of the squad who had given their excuses the week before. They sped off just before
6:45; timing was already playing on Billy-Bob’s mind therefore the original 'Blackdeath Valley' route was circumvented in favour of the road route up to Blackdown, characterised by the verdant Tennyson's Lane.

The secluded sunken lane that runs from Haslemere past
Aldworth is named Tennyson's Lane in memory of the poet. It is little changed from Arthur Paterson's description in 1905: "Trees meet overhead, copsewood surrounds it, and later, it is hedged by high sandy banks thickly overgrown with plant and scrub; squirrels and rabbits, and all other small woodland creatures, disport themselves over it. It twists and turns, and to the stranger appears to lead nowhere in particular". Tennyson purchased Blackdown, and built Aldworth in 1869 (Wilkipedia).

With no small woodland creatures in sight this time the pair made haste on what was turning out to be a splendid summer evening after a rainy day. Once at Blackdown the traditional off road route would normally take TCA riders to the highest point in the Sussex Weald -
Temple of the Winds - after which the riders would descend off the back of the downs southward towards regular watering hole, the Noah’s Ark in Lurgashall. Tonight however the pair were heading north into previously unnavigated territory. The pair descended immediately at the Car Park past Aldworth House; sadly no poetry was uttered in the rather steep, rutted and knarly descent.

Billy-Bob cleans his bike at last

The route followed the Sussex Border Path onto Jays Lane followed by a sharp left off road just prior to Jays Farm which picked up the Bridle Path north towards Petworth Road. This new route was deliberately chosen by Billy-Bob because it was marked on the forthcoming BHF Haslemere ride, and also because the TCA had not travelled up this way before. This section was reasonably tame, flat in part with the odd twisty tree roots and a small stream that crossed the path on route. After crossing Petworth Road an executive decision was made to take the footpath rather than the bridleway for a short section, it did after all mean we would be at the pub quicker.

Billy-Bob assuring the most direct route to the boozer

The footpath skirted the edge of a dense copse named Killingshurst, remamed the Killingfields by Billy-Bob, who thought the dense fern like forest was quite eerie and akin to something from a Vietnam movie. He half expected to pick up a puncture from a hidden bamboo trap. Alas, no bamboo trap only a sneaky root that caught Billy-Bob off guard while concentrating on low flying tree branches, his front coil suspension (already suspect), hit the offending root with a thud followed by a crack and sent Billy-Bob off into the undergrowth.

Kilingshurst (Killingfields) Copse

The bridleway joined up onto Mill Lane which Jon recognised as a route that members had previously travelled on foot in days of old, on route to the infamous Chiddingfold Bonfire night. The pair arrived at The Crown at 8pm on the dot to the sounds of the church bells across the green. The pub was frequented by many well-heeled diners, with the exception of a chap in a long rain coat who sat outside laughing while staring into his pint and holding a lottery ticket. A first for the TCA then ensued, the pair removing their mud ridden SPD shoes before entering the bar. It was such a splendid evening however they opted for an outside table so they could enjoy campanology night. Billy-Bob had an splendid pint of Hip Hop Champion Beer, while Jon slurped his pint of Ballards Best. No nuts as they were too expensive.

Campanology at the Crown while toasting absent friends

The boys downed their pints uncharacteristically quickly with no time for small talk on planning issues of the week. It was at this point that Billy-Bob owned up that tonight was a TCA first: in honour of the club motto and its mission ‘to seek out adventure and good beer using environmentally sustainable transportation’, the pair had to catch the train home in order to complete the route. Oh yes! The only downside was that if they missed the 21:42 from London to Portsmouth it would either be a long wait at the station or a very long road ride home to a cold chilli. Thus i was back in the saddle and straight up the A283 towards Hambleon Hurst, the next off-road section that would take them north through woodland and up to Beech Hill, and then into Hambledon and the second pub of the evening.

This part of the route was reasonably quick and the expected gradient turned out to be little more of a slight climb up to a rather picturesque 'creamy England' village green. The route picked up Greensand Way which runs east-west north of Hambledon and if followed over the railway line eventually joins up with previous TCA HindHead route in Thursley.

Merely half an hour since the last sip the pair felt slightly guilty at sinking a few more local ales at the new TCA pub of the Merry Harriers, a delightful pub on the outskirts of Hambledon and situated opposite a handy campsite. In fact, despite the recent inclement weather, the pair commented on several hardy campers who were pitched in the field opposite; Billy-Bob made a mental note of this for future expeditions. With two pints of reasonable Summer Lightning inside them, and a chat to a pair of friendly locals on mountain bike routes in the area, the boys were feeling confident of meeting their rendezvous with Network South East. That was until the locals pointed out that the station in Wormley (Whitley on the timetable) was at least 30 minutes away! The pair had 20 minutes to spare and like Batman and Robin (Only Fools and Horses stylie) mounted their muddy steeds and sped off west on road through Hambledon towards Whitley station.

The Merry Harriers' Moto reads like an alternative to the TCA's very own mission statement!

Fortunately, the road, the additional pint, and the thought of cold chilli meant this dash took less than 10 minutes all in and the pair arrived at the rather deserted station with 10 minutes to spare. The only dillema left was whether to run the gauntlet on paying the rail fare for all of one stop. Surely no one would be around this time and with the thought of saving beer money for future rides an executive decision was made to ‘chance it’. "Evening all", the conductor announced when the train pulled into the station, park your bike in that carriage lads and I will be along to collect your tickets when we get going’. B*gger.

Fare dodger

Resentfully the pair parted with two coins each and would have made a dash down the centre aisle of the train if it were not for the pitiful London commuters just finishing work and the fact that they had their bikes. After a whole 7 minutes the return leg of the ride was complete, and all that remained was the very steep uphill back to base and a still warm Chilli. All in all a top ride which the pair both agreed was worthy of the Haslemere Route II honour. Whilst not as hardcore as Route 1, nevertheless a good mix of road and off road and more importantly pushing the limits of the ride coverage in a sustainable manner whilst meeting culinary deadlines.

(Posted by: Paul, Pictures by Jon)

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At 4:29 am, July 15, 2008, Blogger simon said...

yes but what are the new front forks like?


At 8:58 am, July 16, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

See next post!


At 1:12 pm, July 19, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simon they make a huge difference. Over bumpy rooty ground the bike does not jolt up and down nearly as much, a much smoothier ride. I think the technical jargon is damping motion control. They also offer a bit more rigidity esp downhill. In my view well worth the money. My old forks were sprung loaded and not nearly as responsive to these air sprung forks. JMMP

At 1:45 pm, July 22, 2008, Blogger simon said...

Anon- thank you! information i needed!

I will use this for an upgraded soon 100%


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