Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Floundering Fathers

Billy-Bob, only 5 weeks after becoming a father for the second time mind you, took the rather brave decision to host the TCA ride. However, he insisted that the ride would not commence until 7pm when the worst of the evening carnage with the nippers was over. He warned that all riders should arrive fully kitted-up and ready to go as the ride he had in mind relied on perfect timing.

Al was intrigued but resisted the urge to arrive early, knocking on the Billy-Bob's door at 7pm sharp - helmet, gloves, the lot. There did seem to be a distinct lack of bicycle hardware outside - in fact just Billy-Bob's trusty steed was readied - and Billy-Bob answered the door in a furious mood. Jon had apparently bailed out of the ride with no reasonable excuse at hand... "fancied a night in indeed!" muttered the host. Al's once cheery mood was also evaporated as he took a mouthful of this week's cake only to realise that it contained almonds, the only foodstuff he has been known to refuse.

Billy-Bob makes the final checks

Wrong John had also cried off earlier in the day since he had a friend staying, so it was just the veterans this evening: Billy-Bob announced that they would be recreating the logistically complicated Haslemere to Hambledon (Surrey) route previously tackled in July. This relied on catching the 21:40 train home and there was not a minute to lose...

With no-one to referee the conversation talk soon turned to babies as the pair made their way by country lane through Home Wood towards Black Down. Turning off the road for the first time and Billy-Bob quickly got confused (apparently the tracks looked different in the dark). No matter, an experienced rider like Billy-Bob always carries a map, and with the assistance of pin-point GPS location provided by Al the pair were soon on the right track towards Barfold and Ansteadbrook.

It was during this portion of the ride that Al started to tease apart Billy-Bob's somewhat Ellisonian timing estimates. The last time this ride was attempted the party set of 15 minutes earlier and had 10 minutes to spare before the train. On this occasion the recent rain had made the terrain more challenging and darkness was obviously hampering navigation to a certain degree. Coupled with the fact that fording once gentle trickles now meant wading through quagmire progress was considerably slower than before.

Billy-Bob squelches onward
throught the leaf debris

Both riders were relieved to reach another road section but this also turned to farce as Billy-Bob searched for the track which lead off-road from Killinghurst to Chiddingfold. After more pondering of the map and consulting of the GPS the footpath was located and the pair confidently proceeded, following the field boundary next to a wood. Approximately 10 minutes into this section of the ride and Billy-Bob proclaimed that 'something doesn't feel right'. Having consulted the map once again he concluded that the obvious solution was to carry the bikes down a deep ravine, over some fallen logs and into a second recently-ploughed field, where we once again picked up the boundary. Reaching the bottom of the field we again studied the map, consulted the GPS and tried to lock onto a reference point on the featureless landscape, but we finally concluded that we were well and truly lost. We re-traced our steps, round fields, over logs, down ravines, back to the road... at which point Billy-Bob announced that we had lost the map somewhere since our last stop.

It was left to good old navigational instinct which thankfully saw us arrive in Chiddingfold shortly afterwards. We piled into the public bar at the Crown Inn and settled down to watch the footie (Spurs v Liverpool) with a pint of T.E.A. With time dragging the prospect of striking out for Haslemere was beyond the relms of reality and, without the map, Billy-Bob decided to err on the side of caution and use the well established route home via the country lanes which felt like an endless climb.

Two pints of Wacko please!

In order to recover we felt that a quick pint in the Swan was in order and we enjoyed a quick pint each of Everards Wacko Jacko mild (with a hint of pumpkin!) in salubrious surroundings. By the time we were back at base, with talk of nappies and teething almost exhausted, and the phrases "just like the good old days!", "Wrong John - imaginary friend more like!" and "Jonny P - what a woofter!" were becoming decidedly over-used.

Now on their second child the Bowmans
share some of their secrets for a quiet night

With Islay fast asleep in front of the telly the boys were greeted with a steaming plate of Mrs BB's famous beef stew with apple crumble to follow. A top night all round!

Route Map
(click to enlarge):

Elevation Profile (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Al)

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At 5:02 am, November 16, 2008, Blogger simon said...

I have 4 kids... 21, 19, 17, 11.....

I can assure you of one thing- It never gets easier, just different.

I have to say also Good on you guys for getting in and ding the ride... Those that pike out are big girls blouses.....

At 5:02 am, November 16, 2008, Blogger simon said...

ding?? dOing! sorry

At 7:12 pm, November 18, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

I think I'm glad I wasn't there for that one!

Word verification: bolls

At 8:51 pm, November 18, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

Just in case Social Services are reading this, the miniture bottle of Bushmills was empty before it went in the cot and besides Islay only likes Scottish Single Malt :O)

At 4:23 am, November 23, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

That picture of the baby is AWESOME!


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