2020-10 October

FGCC rides in October 2020

Saturday 3rd October 08.00am ride

PT reports:
Under steady rain a peleton of four assembled – John, Paul, Zach and Richard.  Exchanging greetings with Helena and her performing dog, events proved that not even the combined presence of a “full strength” vicar and the Team Chaplain caused any reduction in the rain.  Also noted was the absence of “Crocodile ” Kruger, and how this coincides with the deft removal from the game of the Orange Moron – full marks for subtlety, Roy!
A short route was proposed by Mr Roche, and found favour.  This was it:

PT was under orders to avoid injury, as he and the memsahib were off on hols to Devon soon afterwards.  Exiting the village round the back of Rogers Farm, we rode down the gallops and then up Mill Lane and Honeysuckle lane to the top of Cote Street.  A careful descent over the slippery chalk brought us out onto the A27.  The Team Chaplain was at last having an effect, as the rain was now easing off a bit.  Crossing the A27, we took the cycle path along to Holt Lane, the bridleway that runs north up through Clapham Woods.  The climb up was wet, but not too muddy, and when we came out of the woods at the top the rain had stopped.  Another careful descent down Church Hill delivered us to the garden centre, where ZA took his leave and the rest of us took breakfast, accompanied by the sound of rain hammering on the roof (evidence of the efficacy of the Team Chaplain).
Satmap calculated the climb at 190 feet, but this is clearly an anomaly.  The plot shows 7.7 miles and 705 feet climbed, which is more likely for climbing Salvington hill and Clapham woods.

JR adds:

Before I turn to lesser matters to do with work I must attempt to augment (but not improve upon) the perfect text shown below:
During the descent to brek at Roger’s Farm (and whilst Paul blazed the trail ahead) an important discussion broke out in the ensuing ranks about memorial recognition; all present wishing that the excellent – and high standard – work of the Official War Artist should enjoy wider recognition. The idea was floated (as we floated past Tim’s memorial) that an App should be produced that alerted any aspiring young biker, following in the footsteps/bike tracks of the FGCC, that a memorial exists nearby and that they could make the necessary trek to both stare admiringly at the handy-work of the artist and contemplate the suffering that must have occurred for there to be the need for such a memorial to the fallen.
Now to urn my attention to more minor matters!

Saturday 10th October 08.00am ride


A fine day and a Shoreham loop decided upon with brek at the airport. RT proposed a diversion to Bloody Norse Corner for some memorial maintenance. In view of the numbers present the peloton split up into groups of two and a three. Up to Cissbury, towards Chanctonbury and a further split of the peloton for those who liked the prospect of a slippery rooted path to the memorial (yes KBS but with TK kindly deciding to keep him company) whilst the rest went via Langmead. At Langmead ZA peeled off to head home down towards Lytchpole Farm and then right to Cissbury and back home to see matron for his flu jab.

Maintenance at Bloody Norse Corner complete and the ode to the fallen recited it was noted that whilst all trees around were suffering from Ash die-back the memorial tree seemed to continue to thrive, leading to the conclusion that the FGCC paints had held back the die-back virus.

Onwards down towards Steyning with the Flying Brit ignoring suggestions and going for the suicide drop whilst the rest went via the suggested route. Into Steyning, Church road, Kings Barn Lane, Roman road and onto the Downslink. At the Bramber roundabout KBS headed back home via the concrete road as he had to get to work.

Down the Downslink for a freezing brek at the airport due to the cafe being full. Back along the seafront to Grand Avenue at which point AM continued on to see Phil the fisherman, the remaining peloton returning to Findon by the usual route via West Worthing and Findon valley gallops.

Total : 23.1 miles and 952ft (Strava).

Saturday 17th October 08.00am ride

PT, RT, AM, JR and NW. 

A Covid-compliant peleton of five, including a very welcome first appearance this year of NW, convened at Pond Green while the TM’s surgery was in session to replace a gear changer for JR.This went without major hiccoughs, and discussions of a route concluded a somewhat shortened Amberley Loop “Lite” would be sufficiently challenging, even without rain (this meteorological condition being vouchsafed by the simultaneous velocipedal excursion of the Team Chaplain en famille).

The route took us up through Muntham and along the SDW to Rackham hill at mile 5, where we turned southwest and then southeast to take the “Viking Vroom” route to Wepham down.  This stretch is not as overgrown as it has been in previous years, so a quick descent of about a mile was possible.  Then east down to Lee farm, and the slog up into the wind back to Chantry car park.  NW’s son’s bike, a bright red Norco, proved unable to carry NW up this climb, and had to be pushed for a bit until it got its breath back.  Future rides may increase its stamina. Back down to Puckamuck corner, with an unsuccessful attempt at the “Last Post” by PT being completely trumped by AM, who made it from the gate at mile 10 to the JR memorial at mile 11.5 without pedalling.
A brief wind-assisted ascent to the top of Church Hill, then down through the woods (avoiding climbing riders of the equestrian and velocipedal types, and doggers) to a temporally distanced brek at the garden centre.  Taking social distancing to a new level, tea and coffee were provided first, and then plates of brek arrived, followed after a respectful interval by cutlery, and finally by the toast (especially ordered to be inserted beneath eggs to make them edible).
Discussion turned to the IOW trip next week, and final logistic arrangements were agreed.  NW’s role at Thameslink was also clarified, and it seems his main occupation is to cast blame for any and all delays to those grey trains on to Tim at Network Rail.  A fine case of one FGCC member providing employment for another!  Sadness, tempered by thoughts of a possible future riding opportunity, greeted NW’s news of his intended move to t’north.
13.6 miles, and 1201 feet climbed according to Plotaroute (Satmap conceded a measly 649 feet of climb, and a program of intellectual re-education has been applied to the device.  We will see how it performs in future.). For the record, the peleton comprised PT, RT, AM, JR and NW.

Friday 23rd/Saturday 24th October IOW/NF ride 

PT reports:
Day 1 started with our simultaneous arrival on separate trains into Portsmouth, followed by a search for some lunch material.
Out on the Fastcat to Ryde

masked up although outdoors in a 20mph wind!
All six of us piled on to the island train, PT ZA and MA in the front coach.  The Jobsworth Guard carried out his duties to perfection, affording superb service to customers by throwing RT, AM and RK off the train, much to their great entertainment.
After enjoying the funfair-style ride, PT ZA and MA had time to go int Shanklin in search of a public convenience, as the station facilities were securely locked.  By the time we reached the station again, MA RT and RK had arrived so all set off along the disused bit of the track to Wroxall.
In a departure from the usual route at this point, PT suggested going round to the west of Appledurcombe Down, instead of the shorter eastern route.  Highlights of this diversion were:
a mother-in-law of a hill from mile 3 to about 4.5, which gave at least PT and MA an opportunity for a refreshing walk;
precipitous muddy tracks down from the summit;
sighting the sea in four directions from the top of the down; and
AM and PT diving left and right into the trackside thorn bushes after a minor collision, with AM struggling to release his head from the grip of the bushes (his crown of thorns?) and RK helping everyone by doing the laughing.
AM on the descent from Appledurcombe Down
The normal route was resumed at the grand Gate at mile 5.5, and proceeded without further ado to Newport.  It only rained heavily for the last 20 minutes or so.
Travelodged in the town centre, with bikes safely stored in our respective rooms, we had recorded 12.4 miles and climbed 905 feet.
Following a couple of pre-prandial pints in the Castle by a hardy contingent, the full peleton resorted to the Tamarind Indian (just opposite the Wight bike shop) for a fine meal.
On Day 2 the peleton convened at Wetherspoons for brek, our party being distinctive by the absence of lager from the table.  With the wind strong and set to the southwest, RT suggested that we tackle the Tennyson trail eastwards from Freshwater to Carisbrooke rather than our accustomed direction, so that the wind would be behind us.  All agreed the logic of this proposition, and a coastal route north from Newport to Cowes and then to Yarmouth was agreed.  We set off with the drizzle behind us along the old railway track to Cowes, and west along the promenade to Gurnard.  The helpful and informative pedestrian citizens of Gurnard were keen to hail us with cries of “You can ride on the road. you know!”  and “This is a footpath!”, so we eschewed the promenade cycleway and took to the otherwise deserted road, content in the knowledge that we had lifted the spirits of those Daily Mail reading denizens.
In the absence of a rideable off-road coast route, we mainly followed the signposted round the island bike route to Yarmouth, then took the disused railway track to Freshwater.  Unable to secure a table for lunch at the Piano Cafe (just up the road from Dimbola House), we bought victuals from the extremely appreciative proprietors of the nearby corner shop and lunched al drizzle-o on the pavement while those suitably equipped donned waterproof bootees and trousers.
Gale force winds whipping up the waves at Freshwater Bay and driving the drizzle
During the morning the island had inexplicably rotated by 90 degrees clockwise, as the following wind so eloquently promised by RT was now a gale blowing directly from our right as we toiled up the golf course.  Much leaning and weaving (tacking?) was in evidence on both the ascent (from mile 22 to mile 24) and subsequent descent to the road at mile 24.5.  During the ascent, PT was assisted by the wind removing the rain cover from his backpack, thus lightening the load by about an ounce.
ZA takes his customary rest at the 10th hole. Blurred image due to camera shake in the very strong wind.
At the bottom of the descent entertainment was provided by RK, with a spectacular tyre and tube failure at mile 24.5, resulting in the tyre bead splitting away from the sidewall over about nine inches.
RT and RK rigged a jury repair, using a section of the burst tube and a supply of zip ties (overseen by the Team Mechanic), hoping this would survive until we reached the bike shop in Newport again.  Wise counsel prevailed and we decided to take a road route, incase the repair did not hold up.
TM inspects RK”s and RT’s work
We set off with high hopes.  However, it held only for about three miles, despite being bolstered by additional zip ties during this progress.  At the watermill in Calbourne (mile 27) it was decided to call a cab to take RK and his ailing bike to Newport, while the rest would ride on and reconvene at the bike shop.  RK got a phone number for a cab company in Newport, who were mystified as to our location for the pick-up.  A large penny dropped when RK quoted the PO21 postcode, with the taxi operator observing “Look you bach, that will be Newport IOW you’ll be needing, isn’t it boyo?” or similar.  RK then rang a cab firm in the local Newport, and the rest of the peleton rode on when laughter had subsided, taking the road to the nearest Newport.  The minibus despatched to collect RK passed us after about half an hour, and we reached the bike shop as their mechanic (who agreed that he’d never seen anything like it) finished off a service to the back wheel and new tyre fit.
Relieved at having recovered from the disaster, we took tea and sandwiches at the Cafe Isola, then set off for the ferry at Fishbourne hoping to make it in time to check in.  The ride was somewhat wind-assisted and we arrived in plenty of time, to discover that the ferry was running late.  The captain made up for the delay (again wind-assisted) and we docked in time to ride the half mile to the railway station, where trains were only a twenty minute wait away.  PT hopped on a train to Horsham, rode across Horsham park in the rain, and was welcomed into the bosom of the family (figuratively speaking) at about 8:30.
What became of the rest of the peleton, they will have to add in their own words.  The route from Newport to Fishbourne plots as 38.4 miles, with 2441 feet of climbing.
Suffice it to say that at all intervals when the peleton was not riding, time was occupied by vox testiculorum.  A grand and memorable ride.
I look forward to additions and comments from the peleton to complete the full perspective of the trip.
IOW day 1
IOW Day 2
and a plot of both days – Day 1 in orange and Day 2 in blue

TAMITS: RK researching the effects of drive-by assassinations through the controlled explosion of his rear tyre.

RK phoning a taxi company in Wales to rescue him on the Isle of Wight

AM trying to don a crown of thorns when extracting himself from the brambles on Appledurcum Down

ZA addition to the report:

As ever, besides plotting the routes taken by the IOW Peloton of the FGCC, you have provided an excellent description of the more notable occurrences that took place along the way.

On Friday, whilst AM, RT & self were waiting at Worthing Station to catch the train to Havant, we noticed a young man being escorted from the platform by two officers of the British Transport Police. We didn’t know what offence he may have committed (fare evasion, possibly?). After you left us to catch your train to Horsham from Portsmouth Harbour Station on Saturday evening, AM, RT, RG, MA + self, boarded the 19.29 Brighton-bound service. Shortly before departure, a group of young men who had obviously had a fair amount to drink, also boarded. Although I had my back to them, other Gentlemen had a better view of their antics and the intervention of the BTP, leading to the noisy group being advised that they should leave the train at Havant which they duly did. We noted the patience with which BTP officers and train staff dealt with these incidents …

MA having disembarked at Angmering, and leaving RK to disembark at Lancing, RT, AM & self, got off our train at Worthing where we descended to the subway to exit the station on the N side where even wearing masks, we got a sniff of the unmistakable smell of cannabis being smoked: no sign of the BTP this time … Our ride home was both rapid and wet, the only ‘incident’ being at Offington Roundabout where, momentarily, each member of the Peloton of 3 was disorientated by being unable to locate the others. This temporary and minor debacle was quickly overcome as we reconvened for the final leg of our journey up The Valley to Findon, each parting to the uxorial comforts of his own home.

It was very obvious how each member of Le Peloton derived so much pleasure from the trip – the first ‘o’nighter’ since the N.W. Passage/Downslink Ride in March. Even with the gale force crosswinds encountered on the section of the Tennyson Trail which we did ride, and getting pretty wet a couple of times, it was a brilliant trip: I loved it 😊

RT addition to the report:

Adding to ZA’s account of unsociable activity on the rail network PT experienced a delay at Pulborough due to “trespassers on the line”. A typical FGCC “debacle” on the main peloton’s train had led to differing opinions as to where we were to change trains – Chichester as stated when RT booked his ticket, Barnham which was the original plan proposed by PT (though planned timings had changed since the original plan) or Havant as recommended by ZA due to a greater choice of trains to Portsmouth. MA elected to change at Barnham to accompany PT when he arrived and the remainder elected to change at Havant. It was then that we heard of PT’s delay but finally all arrived at Portsmouth harbour at around the same time.
One matter to report concerns my reputation. During the RK blow-out incident repair someone commented (PT?) that the two Zimbabweans were carrying out a repair together (the wrapping of the reinforcing section of tubing around the new inner tube). RK responded with “we Zimbabweans know how to work with rubber” upon which national unity instantly broke down and I had to ask RK to “speak for yourself”. The attached video (thank you Mark for the record) leads on from that exchange (you might just be able to hear Mr Mead laughing).
The exploded section of RK’s inner tube
RK’s exploded tube re-cycled into garden ties the next day.
Thank you gentlemen for a great ride which made a wonderful escape from the general Covid gloom

Saturday 24th October 08.00am ride for those not on the IOW ride


JR reports:
We are glad that you all enjoyed the IOW trip and that you are safely back on this main island. In your absence a small but elite force gathered at 8.00 on Saturday 24 Oct 2020 to represent the club on the mainland. Riders were:
Mr. Tim Kersley FGCC, c/o Kersley Towers. England
Mr. J Roche FGCC, c/o World HQ.
Our description of the ride begins with some important words from TK to set the scene and continues with a route description penned by yours truly:
With such stiff competition from the Concurrent cycling tours (giro d’Italia, vuelta a Espana , circuit de Isla de Blanca ) a small peleton formed at pond green to take on the inaugural one day classic ‘autumn colours ride’
Our route had been dreamed up beforehand by JR and so faffing was kept to well within the 10 minute rule. As such (and according to time pieces previously calibrated accurately against the clock in the butchers), this small but important peloton set off on time to attempt observation of  the seasonal colour changes.
An ascent was made to Cissbury car park (distance covered so far = 1EN), where-after descent happened to the gate that leads to the dew pond and the muddy field that goes eventually to Lychpole farm. Here we encountered a hill-ette to take us on eventually to the Langmead memorial. During this normally uneventful climb these two finely honed FGCC athletes let themselves be overtaken by two younger, even fitter riders. JR was just remarking to TK that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and was about to comment that it is satisfying to realise what the FGCC has inspired in the youth of today, when TK was struck by the poignancy of these words as he noticed that  these two riders were dressed exactly the same as us.
A descent into Steyning and perambulation along the High Street brought us to the near- crossroads of the A283 with the Steyning exit and the road to Ashurst. It was decided that as we did not have a tarmac- allergic flying Brit with us we would soldier on up to Spithandle Lane and take this back road to admire the changing colours, then south towards Wiston, crossing the A283 to head for Llama Lane. Not having the courage (and being far too sober) to take on the steep ascent up Llama Lane itself we turned west to again enjoy the colours of the Wiston surrounds whilst heading for the SDW, Washington car park and the A24. Crossing there we headed a little further up the SDW before turning off to Windlesham School, Sussex Manures (aka horse-shit corner), the JR memorial at Collarbone Alley, Long Furlong, Church Hill and a descent past the TK memorial for brek at Rogers Farm.
The following stats apply:
Distance: 20 miles / 16.6666 ENs
Ascent: Yes. (lots of ascent).
Faffing: Zero
Blast-eets: (thankfully) Zero
Standards: Maintained at ALL times.
Bo!!*<!<s talked: Distgustingly little.
As we rode it occurred to the powerfully-minded contingent that (as these colours are likely to be around for the next couple of weeks), we could look upon today’s important excursion as R & D work and that we could repeat the ride on the same route next week. Apart from anything else, barring mishaps/further adventures, we would then be able to copy and paste this text next week to save someone a whole lot of typing!

Saturday 31st October 08.00am ride


Strong southerly winds and rain forecast so JR again suggested  a route to go generally south into the wind and then be blown back for a brek at Findon Garden Centre. Well after the 10 minute ruling we set off up to Cissbury coming across Electric Sid at the top of the green – well most didn’t recognise him in his new disguise and missed him (hopefully he can be motivated to join us again when we are permitted to ride en-peloton). Up to Cissbury car park and straight on then a right taking the bridleway round the east side of Cissbury and past Lytchpole Farm. Up through the Sompting Estate Farm, down Landleys Lane and across the A27 to Sompting and a debacle trying to find a non-existent bridleway, resorting instead to following the cycle route to the sea front. This provided an opportunity to use the justify the creation of the cycle lanes that have been set up due to the pandemic causing major traffic jams even though there are generally no cyclists using them.

The sea front was mostly deserted due to the strong winds, though it was an easy ride for the wind-hardened IOW riders from the previous weekend. We headed west on the front as far as sea lane cafe, then up Sea Lane turning into Ilex way for JR, then north to the crossing at Titnore Lane,A259 roundabout. Some taking the bridge and some simply crossing the road led to the second debacle of the ride with the bridge group going up parallel to Titnore Lane and the others starting on an easterly direction. The latter group realising that the bridgers had headed off then doubled back to seek and find them.

Up the new path to join Titnore Way opposite the tennis club and then towards Tesco and into the housing estate with the intention of getting to Holt Farm bridleway. However a further debacle took place with JR leading some to a footpath with a stile and PT with ZA taking a more easterly route north on another track. Telephonic communications enabled a re-grouping at Holt Farm and the ride continued, just as the rain started, up through Clapham Woods for a slide down Church Hill.  Into the garden centre, just missing a torrential downpour, where a bit of queue-barging by TK gained us a table for a last brek before lockdown.

Total 15.8 miles and 958ft (Strava), and 16.2 miles and 1,086 ft (Satmap).