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

PT (PM), CB (WM), TB (LSV), RK ( LSV), MA (LSV), TK, KBS, JR, ZA, RT

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 arrive 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.

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 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 observed over the days. A noticeboard informed us that this cemetery was used for men who fell on the first day of the Somme offensive as well as 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.

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 and 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.

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. 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.

To be completed

Total 35.2 miles and 2,060ft

Friday – Day 3 Somme ride

TBC

 

Total 30.5 miles and 1,379 ft

Saturday – Day 4 Somme ride

TBC

 

Overview of rides

Saturday 20th 08.00am ride

 

Saturday 27th 08.00am ride