Thursday, September 24, 2009

Johnny Saves the Day

Billy-Bob was still out with respiratory problems and John couldn't make it either. Al and Jon therefore resolved to make an early start and get another good, long ride in from Chichester. Traffic and work conspired to stall Al though and, having got the tea and cakes out of the way, the pair eventually left at 6.30 with the sun low on the horizon.

Al sets off up The Trundle

Jon had constructed yet another new route by piecing together bits of numerous previous outings. The first half of the ride followed the well-worn route up and over the Trundle into West Dean and then up towards the South Downs Way through West Dean Woods. All this was pretty uneventful as Jon and Al pressed on trying to get to the ridge without using lights. The plan was scuppered though by a catastrophic failure in Al's chain as he crunched through the gears. Al looked at his stricken bike helplessly - he knew he had left his chain tool and spare links in the 'bike box' at home in his rush to get out. Jon came to the rescue, pulling out a solitary spare link. With a typically slick team effort the TCA pair had the job done in less than 5 minutes. Had Jon not packed the requisite gear the pair were in a world of trouble on the most remote part of the route!

Nightfall on the South Downs Way

Along the ridge then, through the Devil's Jumps and down 'Boneshaker Alley' towards Hooksway. Reaching the bottom of the long, steep descent the pair could not believe their eyes; appearing out of the night like Brigadoon were the lights of the Royal Oak. Opening hours seem to have a mind of their own and it had been months since the TCA had happened on the establishment while it had been open. Jon and Al were treated to a veritable selection of Cornish beers but both plumped for the Cornish Knocker.

Once in a Blue Moon

Having finished the beer, and with a definite chill in the air, the pair headed through Phillis Wood towards Chilgrove. The conditions were nigh so perfect this evening - a clear, cool, dry night - that they briefly considered the ascent of Kingly Vale. With time pressing on, and Al's dodgy chain to consider, Jon and Al felt that they had not upset the cycling gods while they were on-side. They headed instead back to West Dean and by cycle path and dismantled railway to Lavant. The second Royal Oak of the evening (and a "5 out of 10" pint of Bombadier, according to Jon). After their second pint it was home by the usual route.

Jon had been experimenting again with the slow cooker and, with a glut of home grown chillies to use up, he had knocked up chilli & ginger chicken with noodles. They watched "iRobot" on the telly over another couple of bottles of beer but it was all too much for Al who fell asleep on the sofa before either the film or the pint were out.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

(Posted by: Al)

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