Thursday, December 04, 2008

Going Urban

In customary fashion Al turned up first and, with tea already made, tucked into the homemade flapjacks laid on by John. Shortly afterwards John and Al were questioning whether to answer the door, thinking it might be Christmas carol singers... much to their disbelief it was Jon who had arrived uncharacteristically early.

It had been a while since the TCA had done an urban ride, and also had had the chance to sample Mrs John’s excellent food. John had therefore been very busy making sure Helyer Mansion was seasonaly decorated; the appropriate amount, and carefully positioned Christmas decorations and thoughtfully decorated and well lit tree were all in place. In fact planes landing at Southampton now have an extra beacon for reference!

There was some debate as to which way round we would tackle the 'usual' Fareham route but it was finally decided to do it the normal way, i.e. clockwise. This was on account of the two pub stops being in the last third of the ride this way round, the only con being the prevailing headwind along Lee-on-Solent seafront. The opposite direction would finish with the relatively featureless haul back up the Gosport Road rather than the short hop home from the Hallowed Shire of Titchfield.

The trio turned to bike fettling in the traditional manner - Al had turned up with what looked like a bag lady’s bike - adorned with all manner of bolt-on goodies - and then insisted in giving John a guided tour showing off the new handlebars, rack, stem, mudguards (before John fell asleep...). On the other hand John had decided to use his modified cyclocross bike, hoping that it might help him keep up with Al and Jon. As ever Jon turned up with his trusty steed, with his new wide tractor type tyres fitted.

Jon suddenly became quite anxious about the task ahead and came up with a pathetic excuse that he had left his light cables at home and would therefore have to duck out. For once Al came to the rescue and was able to supply him the spare set he had in his box of tricks (for those who have not read any previous blogs, it is usually Al who needs to borrow stuff, sometimes for around 18 months, i.e. Jon's tyres).

Following last week's experience without waterproof trousers, John and Al adorned a pair as rain was forecasted and finally the riders headed down to the Gosport Ferry, stopping to take the usual TCA picture in front of the Spinnaker tower; Al commented how disappointed he was that it was not decked out in Christmas lights. There was a brief discussion regarding a proposal by Al and Jon to cross on the ferry over to Portsmouth for a beer but this was quickly dismissed by the ride leader, John. Instead we headed along the costal path past Haslar Hospital and down to Stokes Bay. At this point we encountered the head on cold winds, but in true peloton fashion John and Al took it in turns to head the ride. Jon thought he was being crafty lurking at the back but it has been noted that he was rarely seen to “do his bit” up front, until not so subtle comments were made by Al.

The TCA model Reflective Overtrousers

Beside the Spinnaker Tower

From Stokes Bay, round to the first stop in Lee on Solent, the wind was relentless, but Al and Jon showed true TCA spirit and were even seen racing each other. John was left behind a couple of times (even though he was on his 'fast' bike): Too many business lunches and too much travel continues to take its toll on his waistline and fitness. The Osbourne View beckoned and all were ready for the first pint, of Pickled Partridge after their excursions.

It was Al's round and he returned from the bar fuming at the incompetence of the barman who was more focused on his abilities as a comedian than on serving punters in the correct order! His mood was not improved when he then discovered that his new super-dooper RaceFace triple layered, fully taped seam, waterproof shell had a broken zip and, despite utilising all his mechanical skills and some of the pub's cutlery, could not be fixed.

Jon this time came to the rescue with a spare waterproof top belonging to his mum, and J and J then had to put up with Al winging about it for the rest of the ride.This put Al in a miserable mood, so for the rest of the night hated everyone and everything.

From the Osbourne View we then headed into the Shire and the sanctitiy of the Queens Head. Al again tried to keep up with Jon; John just did his own thing behind. All recovered over a couple of pints of Irvings Type 42, and a pint of 'Bonfire Beer', and the discussions then turned towards the traditional variety (i.e. not babies and nappies), with Jon discussing some of the merits of living a bachelor life. Fortunately the tale did not put A and J off their pints, or off their appetites.

A Toast to Absent Friends

The Queens Head

From the Queens head it is a quick 15 minute ride back to Helyer Mansion where the aroma from Mrs John’s home made curry was very welcoming. Once showered and sat down at the dining table, (on which the fine fare was served and consumed with great gusto and delight) dinner was all washed down with Spitfire and Adnams broadside.

Post-ride Nosh

The curry was followed by a fine apple pudding, (something which has been sorely missing from many a recent TCA gathering John noted). All then retired to the “comfy chairs” where of course very high brow and intellectual conversation was had as usual.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: John)

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At 10:34 pm, December 10, 2008, Blogger simon said...

great post and good to see the ales! I love the names "Spitfire" etc! reminds me of them that I had last year!

Merry Christmas to the TCA!!

At 4:55 am, December 12, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

I should think that circuit around the coastline would be nicer in daylight. I bet you would see Little Egrets and loads of stuff.

Nice account.

At 8:51 pm, December 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Fellas, You are putting us in Devizes to shame, but heading out accross Salisbury Plain for a 30 miler in the morning for sherry and Mince pies at Imber Village!

Merry Christmas and hope to catch up before the boys weekend! Ad

At 8:52 pm, December 28, 2008, Blogger simon said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New year TCA!


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