Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memory Card Mishap

After a quick clean of Jon's orange Apollo bike, Billy Bob and Jon embarked on a ride down to the Chichester canals to Appledram. The orange Apollo bike had to be brought into use because of technical problems with Billy-Bob's own bike. We had had a quick cup of tea and chocolate cake beforehand, discussing the notable absence of some members on weekly rides (and Jon's experience with a friendly belly dancing solicitor at work). Keeping the dream alive for the TCA was falling on our broad shoulders.

The usual quick cycle through Chichester was mounted to beat the level crossing which we duly accomplished. Once on the cycle path, we quickly encountered courting couples and dog walkers, some very grumpy, and that was the owners. We lost count how many we met but Al would not have enjoyed this part of the ride. The evening was glorious though with the sun out and when we got to the Marina at Dell Quay the setting sun over Fishbourne channel was super.

We arrived at the pub, the Anchor, in good time, sat outside and enjoyed two pints of Waggledance. You cannot beat the British summer when it is like this. At 8pm we decided that we had to go upto East Lavant along disused railway line along the eastern side of Chichester. We had on a previous ride with Wrong John gone straight back home at this point! However aware of some murmurings that our rides had gone soft and that our bikes are not showing signs of dirt and mud we pushed on hard.

In fact we took just half an hour to get to at the Earl of March at East Lavant. A distance of just over 8.5 km not bad when billy bob was cycling the tank, the orange Apollo. At the earl of March we enjoyed a pint each of Harvey's Best Bitter looking over the Downs and the Trundle.

Again we cycled back fast from East Lavant home in just under twenty minutes arriving at 21:20 for another slow cooker Parson's special, Coq au Vin. It was around this time that Jon realised he had neglected to put the memory card into his camera; all the carefully staged snaps had been in vain.

(Posted by: Jon)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Billy-Bob's Birthday Bash

Jon and Al met at Billy-Bob's gaff on the occasion of his birthday for a gentle ride to the pub. Kids and women-folk were packed off to Petworth Park and the trio set off for Temple of the Winds. It was a glorious sunny day and it was already warm despite the 10am start (a real challenge for Jon).

Jon and Paul...lost already!

We went up and over Blackdown starting with the ascent at Black Dog Copse,into Blackdown proper then down the usual route which was very dry. We caught our breath at the popular local view point before descending in the usual fashion. Taking in Jobsons Lane on route to the Lurgashall winery.

Temple of the Winds

A brief stop at the winery saw the three riders consume as many 'tasters' as they thought they could get away with. Impromptu Sunday morning snifters comprised such exotic beverages as rhubarb wine, giner wine and blueberryport [sic.]. Billy-Bob had much in common with the eccentric Califonian proprietor it seemed, but Jon and Al eventually coaxed him out of the shop and back onto his bike. Then it was on our way to Lodsworth via the traditional uphill ascent of Highstead Lane .

The novelty of a daytime ride.

Rather than turn off in a northerly direction into the Forest Commission woodland towards Henley we headed south accross the only wet bog on an otherwise balmy hot day and proceeded to ascend Bexley Hill with the unsightly mast atop. This was followed by a gradual down hill ascent through Bexley Common nearly toppling an unsespecting day walker at Hoe Hill before arriving at the Hollist Arms at 11:48, well before the agreed 12:30 rendavous deadline with the Petworth Party.

Anyone for a Snifter?

We sat in the rear beer garden soaking up the sunshine and repremanding Jon on his selfish birthday secracy. The peace and quiet was however soon eroded by the arrival of a mixed sex cycling group with all mannor of dress code and unsughtly lycra unsembles. The decision to hold off for the afternoon BBQ back at the Billybobs was one of attrition as the smell of various lunctime delights wafted over the beer garden making the wait for the Petworth party.

As the Petworth Picnic had obviously overrun there was time for a couple of beers before the women-folk, kids, Peter and Delphine arrived. The kids were happy to run around the beer garden, Jimmy undertaking a pioneering exploration of the dense vegetation on the Western fringes. Meanwhile there was business to be done. Al and Peter retired to the corner where a heated negotiation on the going rate for Morris Minor hire was undertaken. Discussions ended amicably and a deal was brockered, but not before Al had finished another beer.

Reunited in the beer garden.

Boys watered, kids worn out, Peter broken by Al's negotiation and the women-folk reminding Billy-Bob and Al exactly what the Brownie-Point score was, we headed back to Chateaux Billy-Bob for a BBQ.

Clan Billy-Bob

Billy-Bob ran around for a bit with burning pieces of newspaper and retired to the upper tier of the garden, the girls prepared salad, Al took a shower and Uncle Jon entertained the kids with his funny face(s) and apparent tolerance for being dowsed by Jimmy as Elodie slept.

Soaking your Uncle Jon is a
serious business!

The standard of cuisine was as high as one has come to expect from a TCA BBQ and a thoroughly pleasant afternoon was had by all. Happy Birthday Billy-Bob!

(Posted by: Al & Paul)

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


John and Em arrived in Hambledon for the evening - John and Al fettled road bikes but, rather bizarrely, donned running gear for the evening: This was the first official training session in preparation for Octobers duathlon.

The evening kicked off with five-mile run around the standard circuit which Al has run countless times in preparation for his recent marathon. The pair managed a time of 42:31 Al finishing strongly despite ongoing marathon-lag.

A quite change of shorts for Al, shoes for both and it was a hop onto the road bikes for the punt to Dundridge. John had a Guinness while Al plumped for real Perry. John was in his element as he and three 'Harley' riders turned up and discussed modifications to their motorcycles. Al politely stifled a yawn.

The final leg back to base was uneventful but John steadily pulled away from Al who's legs were struggling with this new discipline. Spag Bol and trifle were waiting for us, and the boys toasted the start of this new multi-sport foray with an Ardbeg.

John & Al recover from their excersions

(Posted by: Al)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Four Once More

There was nothing remarkable about this evening's ride - Hambledon Route 1 on a balmy May evening, bluebells everywhere. A race across the meadow, a puncture for Billy-Bob, a stop at the White Lion, a zip down the disused railway line. Railway embankment challenge, Forest of Bere descent, a stop in the Traveler's beer garden (Bank's Mild for some) and home for a curry.

However, this was the first time since September 2008 (not including ceremonial rides - Boy's Weekend and Christmas) that all four had been on a ride together. Sadly no cameras were taken to record the event for posterity!

(Posted by: Al)

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Postcard from Hungary

During the atrocities of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 more and more Hungarians fled to the western world over the border to Austria. Even though it was just a small wooden bridge over a small river, the Bridge at Andau was the escape route for about 70,000 Hungarian refugees.

The 9 km "Road to Freedom" is lined at regular intervals with sculptures
in tree stumps depicting the escape of the Hungarian refugees

After crossing the border, fugitives had to walk a 9km long road, the "Road To Freedom", to the village of Andau, where they were received with great hospitality by the inhabitants there and the surrounding villages. On November 21, 1956, the bridge was blasted by Soviet troops, putting an end to the escape route. The bridge was reconstructed as a memorial in 1996.

Maalie on the Andau Bridge, at the Autria/Hungary border,
Hungary in
the background

On 16th May I hired a bicycle in the small Burgenland town of Illmitz and cycled the 30km to the Andau Bridge. The bike was a "Kettler" hybrid road bike with a 7-speed Shimano gear box in the rear wheel hub, very similar to that of my Giant Escape, so I felt at home. The 70 odd km I cycled that day was more than I had accomplished in a single day since my teenage years, and I confess to a little saddle-soreness during the evening. However, the ride was well worth the effort, not only because of the historical context, but also because I was able to see a flock of Great Bustards in the nature reserve that runs alongside the Road to Freedom.

For just 10 Euros for my 28-hour rental period, I considered it great value.

Detail of the Kettler bicycle hired in Illmitz
for just 10 Euros for a day-and-a-bit.

(Posted by: Maalie)

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