Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recession Obsession

It was a balmy summers evening with maximum daylight hours given that the longest day was just a few days away. Billybob needed an after work escape not to mention exercise and at last minute made the call for a late start TCA route from his. Jon answered the call with John and Al being either out of the country or away, so once again Billybob had to try and keep up with the big man.

After picking up the nippers from nursery, getting them ready for bed before handing over to Stef and hastily assembling apparel and bike lights, the boys managed to depart by 7.30pm normally far too late but given the long clear evenings of late still adequate for a spot of off road action. The route followed the road to Blackdown via Tennyson Lane and then the steep downhill past Tennyson’s Aldworth House onto Jays lane. This northern downhill section was especially dry and a mighty fine test for Billybob’s new Rock Shock Recon forks and boy what a difference a ‘rebound damper’ made.

The route followed a dog leg north through the usually waterlogged Anstead Brook before crossing the Petworth Road then onto the Killingfields otherwise known as Killinghurst Lane, this time the intrepid duo stuck to the country lanes rather than fight the dense thicket and poor unmade footpath through Hollis Hanger. The road picked up the Furzefield Road and then joined the historic TCA route otherwise known as the Chiddingfold bonfire route via Mill Lane which leads into Chiddingfold and the TCA favourite albeit super posh and carpeted The Crown.

Shoes Surrendered at the Door
of the Chiddingfold Crown

The boys sat down to the last few chimes of the local bell ringers while discussing how recession proof some people are, noting the plethora of Mercedes and new 09 plate Audis in the car park not to mention the various states of dress sitting down to a five figure evening meal. The boys content with their common man pints of Thirsty Ferret (albeit £3.25 each), soaked up the ambience (free) and discussed the merits of pushing onto Hambledon (fee) and then taking the train home (not free, in fact very expensive for a 4 minute journey).

A Toast to Absent Friends,
The White Horse

True to form the lads ditched the route that necessitated a train home in order to make dinner that was not cremated and so Billybob quickly fashioned a simpler, faster and more importantly cheaper route back to Haslemere via the Frillingshurst Copse, basically retracing the historic Chiddingfold walker route of olde and then picking up the road through Grayswood avoiding the intimidating relentless hill climb of Three Gates Lane (Billybobs choice as he was sure Jon could tackle this without shortness of breath).

The final return leg into Halslemere, went off road once again through Beanfield Copse, this time on a footpath, a route not usually chosen but given the lateness of the evening it was decided there would be few if any walkers on this wooded trail, fortunately the lads were proven correct. This is a lovely wooden trail which avoids the Petworth road eastern run marred only by the several styles that the boys had to invent various lift and drop techniques to overcome, some more successful than others.

The duo opted once again for another posh pub The White Horse rather than the ‘Spoons’ a decision based largely on likely ‘ambience and views’ rather than the quality of their beer. However Billybob was very pleased to see that Doombar was on tap and all agreed this was a splendid way to finish the evenings ride. A quick slog up Shepherds Hill saw Jon really get into his stride and leave Billybob once again for dust. A return by 10.30 saw the boys sit down to a Mrs B.B spag bol and half a Waitrose custard slice and the beginnings of the film Black Book: Carice van Houten stars in Paul Verhoeven's war-set thriller as a member of the Dutch resistance prepared to sleep with an SS officer to uncover secrets.

(Posted by: Billy-Bob)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

John & Al Hit the Road

John and Al left from their separate houses on road bikes and met in the King's Arms, Wickham for a pint before cycling back to Al's via Dundridge and the Hurdles in Soberton. A total distance of 20 miles was covered. After dinner and a dram John stayed over and cycled home in the morning.

Toast to Absent Friends,
The Hurdles

(Posted by: Al)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer House Blues

It was alternate nights for the TCA squad this week with Jon accompanying BillyBob on a local ride to the HalfMoon in NorthChapel. It was a fair evening and both needed a bit of exercise what with BB deskbound all week and Jon still in training for his duathalon weekend. It was the usual slog up Black Dogs Copse where they met a slightly confused lady walking her dog who had just got off a flight from New York. The route then picked up the sandy trails into BlckDown proper then past the National Trust Car park and the rutted steep drop down into Jays Lane. Both decided quickly to pass on the Noah's Ark a former venue of old and head straight for the Half Moon. Rather than dodge the low ceiling the boys opted to sit outside and admire the impressively built childrens wooden playhouse in the beer garden.

BillyBob wished his house was big enough to accomodate such a structure while Jon wondered if it was watertight and good enough to sleep in if we had one too many ales (wishful thinking) After a pint of Hip Hop each the boys knew it was time to return the way they had come picking up the single track baked trails back up to Blackdown. Billybob showed Jon a new off road route down the side of Tennysons Lane which picked up a rather pictoresque trail that fed into Lythe Hill Country Club. Billybob pondered if they accepted muddy bikers in their 4 Star French Restuarant but then thought that they had better head back to Mrs B.B's for a home made spag bol which was bubbling away on the stove.

The route finshed with a more gentle climb up into Haslemere via Petworth Road and then a cheeky last stop in The White Horse for a pint of Doombar and bag of crisps before heading up the mighty steep Shephards Hill. This time B.B made it up in one and even managed to pip Jon home who took a wrong turn on the last leg. He picked up the leg and put it in his backpack for later.

Another good ride, a shorter than normal route this week but for a late 7pm start, not a bad workout.

Toast to Absent Friends
Halfmoon Inn, Northchapel

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hambledon Extension

Just John and Al this week but, after a custard tart and a cup of tea with Tee and Jimmy, they managed to make an early start - hitting the road at 6pm sharp. Al had suggested an extension to the usual Hambledon route. The pair headed off as if to tackle Old Winchester Hill, to the North of the village. Having climbed Chidden Down the route turned east for Salt Hill and the ferocious descent off Wether Down into the Meon valley, following the South Downs Way.

Chidden Down

We approached Old Winchester hill from the North with a sharp ascent back out of the valley. It was a glorious evening and the boys stopped to enjoy the views from the summit before the descent towards Exton. John had pack the wrong shoes and could not 'clip in' to his cleats - the effects really started to tell as Al pulled away on the bumpy terrain.

The TCA Surveys it's Domain
from the summmit of Old Winchester Hill

We toyed with the idea of taking in the Shoe Inn at Exton but recent trips there had been disappointing therefore we turned south on the disused railway line bound for Soberton. We pulled into the pub at 7.30pm and both opted for the latest offering from the Bowman brewery - Elderado: With a hint of elderflower it was perfect for a summer's evening.

John on 'Gate Duty'

It was back on bikes to pick up the remains of the regular route from Hambledon - down the railway line towards the Forest of Bere and on for a stop at The Traveler's Rest in Newtown. Once again the outdoor bar was open for business and the boys sat outside with pints of Bowman's Wallop's Wood.

A Toast to Absent Friends -
The Traveler's Rest

As we left the Travelers' John suggested a bike swap for the short journey home by country lane. While their bikes might look very similar both were surprised by contrast in rides they offered. Pulling into Hambledon once more the pair had covered 22 miles all in and back before it got dark around 9.30pm for a Lloyd Grossman turkey curry. Al wondered why this route had never occurred to him before - a classic in the making.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

Route Profile (click to enlarge):
(Posted by: Al)

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Man Saves Dog

Just Jon and Al this week as John (travel) and Billy-Bob (Committee) were ruled out. Thankfully it was a cooler than previous evenings after a very warm week. Mugs of tea and chocolate cup cakes dispatched the boys were on the road for a bimble around Hambledon's #1 route.

The pair had not got a minute down the main road when a large, chocolate Labrador jumped out in front of Jon! Jon hung on to the hound and managed to read the contact details on it's collar. Al shot back home to call the owner who confessed that it was not the first time the dog had escaped.

Having reunited the dog and owner the boys were off up Cam's Hill and on around the familar route. Conditions were perfect and the trail had dried out nicely in the warm weather. The boys were soon pulling into the car park of the White Lion. Al and Jon were excited to see a NEW offering from local brewer Bowman's on tap - South Island Spice. The beers hardly touched the sides and the TCA immediately voted it a hit.

The White Lion

Back on bikes and Jon lead the sprint down the disused railway line, narrowly avoiding a family party out walking a Shetland Pony! Sadly he left nothing in reserve for the Railway Embankment Challenge, failing on two attempts before leading Al over the road to the Forest of Bere. A slight diversion toward the end of the ascent to the car park led the riders rather surrealy through a deserted kid's adventure playground.

The Forest of Bere

The boys have by now got used to the heavily rutted descent but a fleeting glimpse of a honey buzzard made the expereince a little less frustrating this week. They were soon at the Traveler's Rest outdoor bar sipping pints of Bowman's Swift One.

Shadows lengthen as the
evening progresses

A quick ring home to make sure the oven was pre-heated, a short ride down the homeward country lane and gormet pizza awaited. Lights not required - it was still light as the riders pulled into the drive at 21:20. Ken Loach's The Wind that Shakes the Barley was the evening's entertainment which was rated highly by both riders.

(Posted by: Al)

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