04. April 2024

FGCC rides in April 2024

Saturday 6th 08.00am ride. Last training ride before France trip

MB, TK, CB, JR,  ZA, PT, RT + P Thomas.

MA cycled over from Angmering  to then return, this being his Saturday morning ride.

MB cycled over from Torrington, having had the double hurdle of broken down car and children activities blocking the other car. TK in full training mode cycled up the concrete road from Steyning to join the ride.

Longer route selected as a final training ride before the long rides in France with also trying to avoid continuing boggy off road conditions. Up Stable Lane, down Llama lane and Chanctonbury Ring road. Onwards to Ashington, up Spoon Hill and along the lanes to just below Shipley and to Dial Post. Brek in the garden centre.

Post brek we headed east on the track over to Partridge Green, though encountering a short section that was unrideable and resulted in coating of wheels and feet in extremely sticky mud. Onto the Downslink to Steyning where MB peeled off to go up Mouse Lane and back to Storrington with our CCTV guiding this member of the flock , himself returning from there to Findon.

Peloton continued down to Shoreham at which point CB peeled off to take an inland route parallel to the A27 to Toolstation then direct road route back to Findon. Further reduced peloton continued along the seafront stopping for a coffee at Lancing beach. Usual route home via Grand Avenue and gallops plus new motorway, but with JR peeling off at Half Moon Lane.

Total 38.4 miles and 1,386ft

Approx 50 miles and 2,500 ft for TK

Approx 16 miles and 1,400ft for MA

TAMITS: MB determination to not let any domestic barriers prevent him from joining an FGCC ride

TK taking up the analogue challenge with a marathon training ride.

Tuesday 9th – Sunday 14th France Somme ride


Tuesday 9th travelling out to Albert

All assembled at OPG early at 07.00am

to take account of potential traffic problems, faffing and the instruction to arrive 2 hours before departure due to the weather. In the event we arrived far too early and took time for a coffee stop in Sainsbury’s Newhaven.

A long 4 hour crossing was in rough conditions, but the passage of time was assisted by JR producing an excellent quiz as to the French translation of a number of FGCC phrases and questions. (Copy to be added). RT, trying to get his French language going, went into the shop to ask for cough sweets and was offered a sick bag, so clearly the Franglais wasn’t working too well there.

Landing in France without any problems, the convoy set off on the two hour drive to Albert. Meanwhile KBS had travelled from Dane country all round Europe by train (why go in a straight line when you can go all over the place first?) and had arrived in Albert ahead of us. He sent a message to say that he was taking the role of Mr Ewart Nightingale by finding a bar that had a wide choice of beers available. We arrived in Albert late afternoon and with rooms sorted set out for the evening. KBS leading the way to his bar then found that he couldn’t remember the way, but after a couple of changes of direction he eventually found the relevant bar, but by this time it had closed!

A couple of beers in Le Kingston bar, some perhaps attracted there by the “Delirium tremens” logo on the bar front. Then on to an excellent meal at the “O-Phenix” restaurant.

TAMITS: RT’s failing Franglais

KBS finding, then not finding, a bar that wasn’t open anyway by the time we got there.

Weds 10th. Day 1 Somme ride.

All assembled for the customary faffing (maybe some more than others) and fettling of steeds we set off up the river Ancre valley towards the Thiepval memorial. On the way we came across the first of many cemeteries that we were to see over the four days.  As it was called Blighty Valley Cemetery we had to turn off the road to find a beautifully peaceful cemetery in a woodland and grassland setting.  Two thousand men remembered here with many gravestones stating “A soldier of the …regiment. Known only to God”.  A very well maintained cemetery, a standard we were to observe at all the CWG cemeteries we subsequently visited over the next few days.  A noticeboard informed us that this cemetery was where men who fell on the first day of the Somme offensive were buried  as well as others later after the Armistice.

When we stopped on the road prior to entering Blighty Valley the FD had by this time all but disappeared over the horizon to then have to turn back to rejoin the peloton, one of many such incidents of “following from in front” to come.

Onward north and the impressive monument of Thiepval soon appeared on the horizon.

Thiepval has the names of 73,000 men recorded on its pillars, men who had died in the offensive but for whom there was no known burial.  Messrs Avery and Brown found the names of relatives killed in that offensive.  TB had his beret ready so that he could pay appropriate respects to his great grandfather.

After paying our respects a CWG person kindly took a group shot, sparing RT from his fumbling attempts to balance his camera on his bike.

Then continuing following the Ancre north we passed the Ulster memorial cemetery with its copy of a folly, Helen’s Tower, in Northern Ireland.

Onwards alongside the Ancre to Miraumont where we then turned in a southerly direction to Courcelette and Longueval stopping to pay respects at a couple more cemeteries.  Then on to Guillemont road cemetery, location of a relative of RT a well as the son of prime minister of the time, Asquith amongst the many others there.

We then continued on in a southerly direction to alongside the Somme.  In a dip here TK taking advantage of momentum suddenly experienced chain breakage requiring removal of a couple of links, carried out by MA.  KBS had found a track off alongside the river half way up the hill and persuaded us to go  on that rather than the road, a diversion that for once turned out to be a good choice for Mr “too much tarmac”, albeit the conditions were a big soggy on occasions.  The track followed the Somme river on a long bend round to heading in a westerly direction to Suzanne at which point we rejoined the tarmac.

Mr Avery on the Somme-side loop.

Then in a generally north westerly direction back to Albert.  After recovery at the hotel some took early beers and the rest joined them for another excellent dinner this time at the Le Bistro.

During the meal KBS got little response from JR’s latest fiancee, the young waitress, primarily because he loudly called out “Monsieur, monsieur”.  “Cordon bleu” Budd, the master of Buddadvisor, was more than a little surprised when, anticipating fresh sardines for his main course, was presented with a tin of sardines beautifully dressed with salad.

“Les sardines de la Maison”

Nonetheless and excellent choice for dinner for all. KBS might have had more than a few 8% Belgian beers with the inevitable consequences.

Total ride distance 36.3 miles and 1,928 feet.

TAMITS: KBS “too much tarmac” moment proving to be a good choice for once

TK burst of analogue energy proving too much for his steed

KBS “Monsieur” to JR’s latest fiancee

CB cordon bleu meal in a tin.

Thursday – Day 2 Somme ride.

Croissants and coffee despatched and “le Faffing” completed, the peleton struck out towards the north-east, leaving the road to climb up the Valee de Neuville, over the Mont d’Ancre and through the village of Senlis-le-Sec.  Continuing on to Varennes, we turned south-west to Harponville and Toutencourt, and then northwest to Raincheval (where there were neither rain nor horses).  We contained our disappointment and carried on west to Arquevres, Louvencourt and Bertrancourt where lunch was taked al fresco, and coffee obtained in a bar that from outside looked as if it had closed down ages ago.

Bertrancourt coffee stop.

Onward to Mailly-Mallet to admire the church, whose carved front was protected by sandbagging during the shelling, but whose sides still showed shell damage

Mailly-Mallet church.

A left turn at the church took us over to Auchinvillers, where a detour from the planned route was agreed, to see the Newfoundlanders memorial at Hawthorne Ridge.  We found the site staffed by chatty and knowledgeable canadians, mainly students in France to brush up their French language skills.  The site was the location of several assaults by Canadian troops on a murderously well defended trench.

Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial – a well presented and beautifully kept area reflecting Canadian resolve to ensure the terrible losses suffered by forces from Newfoundland in that area should never be forgotten.

Trenches at the Newfoundland memorial site.



A bit of backtracking brought us to the nearby Hawthorn Crater – a deep, wide hole in the ground caused by explosives planted under German trenches by tunnelling miners.

Hawthorne Ridge crater.

Dropping down the track from the crater, we passed through Beamont-Hamel and down to the Ancre at Hamel, after which we returned to Albert by retracing the opening couple of miles of yesterday’s ride.

33.75 miles and 2,060ft


Friday – Day 3 Somme ride

All up and ready again by 09.00hrs, to visit the museum under the Basilica before setting off on the ride.  MA and PT, who had visited the previous evening, opted for a leisurely coffee in the cafe in Basilica square.

At about 11 ish, we set off again in a North Easterly direction initially by off-road tracks paralleling the main road through Ovilliers-la-Boiselle and then directly east to Longueval and Delville Wood the location of the South African memorial and cemetery.

The battle of Delville Wood involved the only battalion sent from South Africa as the rest of their force was involved in German East and South West Africa.  Of 3200 men only 192 survived, one of whom was the great grandfather of RT’s daughter in law.

Outside the museum can be found a tree that apparently was the only tree to survive the devastation of Delville wood.

Onwards in a northeasterly direction to Lesboefs, then turning northwest on a long road route to Miraumont towards the Ancre with the peloton becoming extended as much as a mile due to the combination of the continentals following-from-in-front and the senior members sweeping up at the rear.

Then generally south via Courcellete to the Tank memorial, sited in the area where tanks were first used.  Conversations held with a Russian and his aging French taxi driver.  The former claimed to be a war historian and that the first British tank was in fact designed by the Russians and sold to the British as the highest bidder, possibly with a few backhanders to assist the acquisition.  The Frenchman had been a driver for the military after the war taking visitors around the WW1 sites and on retiring continued to do the same with tourists.

We continued on to the Poziers region where the Australians were concentrated. Unfortunately the museum was closed but the cemetery was yet another reminder of how many other countries added to the Allied forces.

Next stop was the Lochnagar crater, the site of the massive blast that was set off underground at the start of the Somme campaign.

Finally back to Albert.

Dinner at the Italian restaurant that did not impress CB as no one spoke Italian and the chefs were from Senegal.  Nevertheless everyone else enjoyed their meal.

Total 30.5 miles and 1,379 ft


Saturday – Day 4 Somme ride

At the customary 8am breakfast, the usually downcast countenance of Le Patron was uncharacteristically lifted, by his being able to inform us that Tommy’s car had been impounded for illegal parking in the market square.  A kind market trader noticed the UK plates, and came round to the hotel on the off-chance that the hapless rosbifs were staying there.  We were, and he gave us the phone number for the garage holding the car.

Resolving that the car should be retrieved ASAP, Roy took Paul and Tommy to the garage.  The car was there, but clearly their day had not started yet.  A phone call to the garage owner on a terrible line advised us to go to the municipal police office at the Town Hall, so we did.

At the Town Hall PT and TB met the Mayor of Albert and his Daughter, who were setting out coffee cups for a meeting at 9.  They explained (thankfully in English) the procedure: 1) go to municipal police office (downstairs) and present documents to prove car is Tommy’s;  2) obtain release paper from Municipal Police; 3) take release paper to garage and pay fine.

PT and TB returned to the hotel to advise Le Peleton.

PT and TB returned to the Town Hall in time for the Municipal Police to clock on at 9:30.  Two delightful ladies explained the procedure again (also in English), copied Tommy’s car documents from his iPad, and issued the release paper.  Just then the Mayor reappeared, apologised for the to-do, and gave us souvenir pens and keyrings by way of cementing the Entente Cordiale.

After much thanking and smiling, we left.  Half way down the Town Hall steps, one of the police ladies caught us up, and said she had spoken to the garage chap and he would not be back until 11, as he was in Amiens (20 miles away) impounding another car (a French one, this time).   Faced with a wait till 11, the day’s route was rearranged and with it a plan for the analogues to set off first (green route), with the electrics MA, PT and TB to take an intercepting (red) route as and when the car had been sprung.

MA drove us round to the garage, and the garage chap duly arrived at 11.  The Release Paper was handed over with a pile of euros, and we were out of there by 11:30ish.

Turbos set to max, we set off down the road to Saillie on the Somme canal, and missed the main peleton by about 10 minutes.

Heading west along the towpath the ebikers caught up with the analogues at Fouilloy.

Meanwhile the analogues were left with the problem that we would need to find our way without the Team Routemeister.  However CB had suggested the route for the day and we were able to follow that route on his Kamoot app.  Now in charge Whipcracker Budd in his usual style called “onward” and the rest of the peloton were to do their utmost to keep up, a matter that became more problematic for the senior wing as the morning ride progressed, in spite of it being largely a ride on flat ground.

Route out of Albert in a generally southerly direction took us to a weir at the Somme river and canal and onto a gravel track for a few miles making for some fast riding (some faster than others!).

But then crossing the canal at a later point we found ourselves on a bumpy grass track that was a particular challenge for the one hardtail rider RK, albeit a very peaceful in the welcome sunshine with much birdsong and complete absence of any other people. Group shot taken at a mid-point.

The peloton continued onwards along the canal with almost no stops for a breather, driven by the team whipcracker and arriving at the agreed lunch stop by the canal at Corbie (notable absence of any steelworks) earlier than planned.

A while later the electrics arrived to have their lunch following which the completed peloton set off to return to Albert.

After a labyrinthine tour of Corbie


a cafe was found for a refreshment stop, where RK downed several whole refills of his water bottle faster than JR’s first pint of the day, making up for his total dehydration on the canal dash ride prior to lunch..

Leaving the Somme at Corbie, we headed north up the Ancre valley to Bonnay, then on tracks of varying dampness to Heilly and Ribemont where we crossed the river then followed the south bank to Dernancourt and Albert.


(Green route is that of the analoguers and red the electrics)

Total: 26.4 miles and 816 feet climbed for electrics

Analogues 31.5 miles and 560 feet climbed

Another evening at the O’Phenix, this time graced with the presence of Mrs Budd who had arrived with the Buddmobile ready to head off to their summer residence the next morning.

TAMITS:  CB team whipcracker

RK fastest rehydration award.

PT Entente Cordiale award for negotiating the release of TB’s vehicle receiving gifts in the process

TB rebel award for challenging parking restrictions but falling foul of them.

Sunday: Return to Blighty day.

A relatively early departure so that we could avail ourselves of one of the few supermarkets that might be open on a Sunday for acquisition of French vino or cheeses.

Farewells to both CB and KBS, the latter who was getting ready for his 24hour train trip back to viking land.

The remaining peloton went straight to Dieppe to the supermarket which turned out to be fairly limited, and we then went on into the town for a bit of sightseeing and an excellent lunch with several enjoying moules et frites.


Fortunately a calm crossing arriving back in Findon while it was still just light.

Overall an excellent expedition to the Somme that was most interesting and with good riding and cuisine.

Overview of rides:

Day 1 – brown

Day2 – yellow

Day 3 – blue

Day 4 – green/red



Saturday 20th 08.00am ride

PT, RK, TK, ZA, MA,  RT with AM on road

Brek location Harbour Lights in LA.

Both TK and RT back on electric – e-withdrawal syndrome? At last dry conditions meant that we could head off up Church Hill and follow the Monarchs Way into APE to view the emerging bluebells. On to Arundel and down the Ford road to LA and the cafe for plenty of VT in the sunshine, albeit chilly conditions.

Return via Rustington, A259, Highdown and the Gallops.

Total 26.3 miles and 1,391 ft. Clearly more for MA and TK

Saturday 27th 08.00am ride

A peleton of JR, MA, MB, PT, RT, TB and TK assembled at OPG, and resolved to head north to admire bluebells  and then brek at the old Post Office in Henfield (red route).

Up Stable lane then north to descend LLama lane to Wiston.  Over the main road then right into Spithandle Lane to admire the bluebells, and a herd of deer which crossed in front of us.

Spithandle lane bluebells

Continuing to Horsmonden common, we crossed the Steyning/Partridge Green road and took the bridleway across the river to Henfield.

After a fine brek in a very busy cafe, TB headed off to meet his time deadline.  The remainder headed back via the Downslink to Steyning where TK peeled off for home.

The pelefive returned to Findon up the concrete road (excellent efforts by the analoguers MB and JR), past Langmead memorial and SDW to drop down Stable lane into Findon.

PT completed 20.84 miles and 1615 feet climbed.

Meanwhile, Andy (delayed by the flies) formed a sub-peleton and completed 32 miles on a winding road route to and from Shoreham Fort, meeting PT at OPG on his return.

ZA (blue route) made an expedition to St James, Goring via Church Hill, Holt Lane and Highdown, returning through town and the Gallops.  11.88 miles and 640 feet climbed