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FGCC 2023 long ride – a visit to Somerset

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

Somerset visit.

On 18th April seven gentlemen gathered at Pond Green, Findon to load up the LSV’s with bikes and luggage and set off for a 6 day jaunt around Yeovil, Somerset to spread humour and goodwill amongst the populace of the region

Rides in all directions from a central base in the town as well as a visit to the Fleet Air Arm museum to see plenty of “boys toys” are recorded in the pages to the right of this post.


The FGCC annual NGN (Not) Gala Night dinner

Sunday, February 5th, 2023

The Findon Gentlemen’s Cycling Club annual dinner – the Not Gala Night dinner

At 08.00pm on Friday 3rd February 2023 gentlemen of the FGCC gathered for an evening of “exotic victuals and libations, and to celebrate and commemorate such feats, exploits, alarums and excursions as have befallen, overtaken or blessed…” as stated in the summons which gentlemen had received earlier.

With glasses fully charged with either Indian beer or Indian wine (aka water) the presentations got underway whilst the feast was being prepared. Mr Roche kindly started with the first award presentation, and in the process took it upon himself as the avuncular founder member to give advice to newcomer, Tommy, to take notes on how to make a medal presentation with at least 5 major points. At the end of the evening the notes consisted of the following:

  1. Talk b*ll*cks.
  2. Mention FGCC at every opportunity to extend the duration of the speech
  3. More b*ll*cks
  4. Brevity ?
  5. 40 minutes. No 45 minutes
  6. Utter b*ll*cks
  7. Complete b*ll*cks
  8. Danish b*ll*cks
  9. Insect b*ll*cks
  10. Iffy b*ll*cks

Presentations paused when victuals arrived and continued once all had fed. A sumptuous feast enjoyed by all and thanks go to the staff at the Tajdar for hosting yet another excellent and hilarious entertaining evening.The medal list is updated in the following days with members requested to advise details of both the award presented and that received in case there had been any failure in either understanding or remembering (surely not at our age) the detail.

Feast at the Tajdar for the FGCC


APM and the bling award

Sunday, January 8th, 2023

Findon Gentlemen’s Cycling Club held our annual planning meeting on Friday 5th January.

Libations commenced at the bar in the Findon Manor Hotel  with excellent pints of Sussex bitter being savoured. A hushed silence came over the group as Team Cartographer, Mr P Topley, then announced (in no particular order) each Gentleman’s number of rides during the previous year, leading to our Team Chaplain, Zachary Allen, yet again being presented with the much coveted “Bling Award”.  Stats are below showing that Rev Allen was out for 50 Saturday rides out of 52 in the year climbing an impressive 1.9 Everests, closely followed by Mr Mead with a total of 47 Saturday rides.


Proud recipient of the Bling Award

This led to a serious (!) discussion of the rules of the Bling award, which having been relaxed to cope with Covid will be tightened up for 2023 to those who join the Saturday peloton or those who ride on Saturday mornings abroad – the emerging effects of Sussex bitter left an uncertain outcome on the definition of “abroad”.

As usual full reports of Saturday rides are reported within this blog – see pages on the right – with records of distances and heights climbed as well as TAMITS (incidents for which “There Is A Medal In There Somewhere”, possibly. Medals are awarded at the Not-Gala-Night.

Fully refreshed Gentlemen then moved on to the Tajdar Restaurant within the village for the APM itself and the APM commenced while tasty victuals and libations were ordered. With much of the usual interruptions, diversions, changes and calls for “one meeting” the revised calendar for 2023 was knocked into shape and is now to be found on the FGCC website in the “Events” section.

Another quality meal was enjoyed along with gallons of Indian beer and Indian wine (aka water) and whilst some retired home others retired to the Village House for post-prandial beverages during which Mr K threw down the gauntlet for Gentlemen to join him on the next morning’s ride 08.00am ride with foul weather forecasted. In the event 5 gentlemen turned up for the ride but Mr K was nowhere to be seen – good example of a TAMITS.



EPM and celebration of Mr Roche’s retirement

Friday, April 1st, 2022

An EPM has been called for 1st April at the Village House for the purposes of celebrating Mr Roche’s retirement from the wheels of commerce – beware of likely falls in global markets – and to plan a future Hayling Island ride. The outcome of those plans will be published in the next days.


A great time was had by all with plenty of VT. For some reason no planning managed to take place.

FGCC Not-gala-night 2022

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Nine gentlemen of the FGCC dressed in formal club attire along with full regalia attended a fine banquet at the Tajdar in Findon on January 22nd 2022 to commemorate achievements of members of the club in the past year. Sadly we were without two members, Messrs Avery and Roche, who were confined to barracks for the evening. With glasses fully charged with either Bangla or Cobra beer toasts were made to these and other absent friends.

The first item on the agenda was the presentation of the much desired 2021 Bulldog Bling Award which was won by our Team Chaplain and Team Historian, Zach to be seen below with man of destiny look and proudly holding the medal.

The full stats are below showing that the Team Chaplain had completed the most official FGCC rides during the year with 58 rides and having ridden a total of  1,260 miles and climbed 2.75 Everests.

Mr Avery climbed the most – 2.91 Everests – due to his regular travel to the beginning of Findon rides from Angmering on his e-bike. The greatest distance was covered by Mr Mead with a total of 1,268 miles on official rides but along with other rides had ridden 5,100 miles in the year.

The second presentation was a Septuagenarian badge to newcomer Ian, the first of current active riding members to achieve this status – congratulations to Ian.

Then followed a splendid feast and naturally silence descended whilst justice was given to this fine fare.

Once all were fully sated and with glasses again fully charged the subject turned to the 2020 awards for achievements during FGCC events. These ranged from ‘ The Greta Thunberg eco warrior medal’ to one member ‘… in recognition of reduced fossil fuel use age and reduction of emissions both vehicular and corporeal’ to ‘The darn it again medal’ to another member ‘…in recognition of his managing to lose his phone twice in quick succession on a ride’ , and so on.



A splendid event enjoyed by all.

Findon Gentlemen’s Cycling Club Annual planning meeting held on Friday 7th January

Friday, January 14th, 2022

FGCC APM 2022.

The annual planning meeting of the FGCC was held on Friday evening to plan rides and events for the new year with 8 gentlemen present and with a member of the youth wing,Mr Budd chairing the meeting. In contrast to past meetings the plan was determined in record time enabling all to enjoy fine dining at the Tajdar in Findon accompanied by plenty of liquid refreshments.

The resulting calendar for 2022 is to be found on the FGCC website in the events section : FGCC events

The following morning in spite of the unpleasant weather and boggy ground conditions as well as the after effects of the night before 6 gentlemen turned out for a short ride at the usual time of 08.00am. A 3 peaks ride ended with a warming brek at the Findon Garden Centre, which is to be commended not only for the breakfast itself but also for kindly welcoming such a group of wet and muddy cyclists.

Monarch’s Way ride raises £600+ for st John the Baptist school

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Chairman of the school governors reports that the FGCC Monarch’s Way ride has raised more than £600 with hopefully more coming in as articles are published in local press. As previously reported this will go towards playground markings which are desperately needing improvement.

Monarch’s Way ride – Friday update from Mr Roche to the school

Friday, May 28th, 2021
Thanks for your email and we are glad that you have enjoyed these updates to our and King Charles’ stories. By the time you read this we hope to have visited you all at school today and talked to you about our adventures. This message is just to continue telling our story from yesterday.
On Wednesday night we stayed in a village called Rowlands Castle, but on his last night in Hampshire King Charles II stayed near Hambledon – where you may remember we discovered that the game of English cricket was established almost exactly 100 years after Charles had been there.
Charles was desperate to get to France to escape capture, imprisonment or worse at the hands of his enemy Oliver Cromwell. Charles and his party, in heavy disguise, proceeded through Rowlands Castle and crossed the border into our own county of West Sussex. They continued on horseback passing many fine houses of the ‘local landed gentry’ going on to Goodwood and then Bignor Hill.
You might know this hill or perhaps the nearby village of Bignor where there is still a Roman Villa. We learned on Tuesday that the Romans built a network of roads; the remains of many of these can still be seen and used today. The Roman road from London to Chichester, known as Stane Street, runs past the villa, up the hill and on to Chichester. It would have been possible for Charles to take this path if he thought that he had the chance of getting a ship from near there as Chichester was also a port. He did not do this, presumably because his pursuers, the Parliamentarian army, would have strongholds there.
As at Winchester Old Hill there is also a hill fort at Bignor which can be seen from our own hill fort of Cissbuty Ring. If you visit Cissbury at any time be sure to look west where you will see in the distance two distinct masts that are used for radio communication and for mobile phones; this is Bignor Hill with which communication has been possible for hundreds of years, long before mobile phones existed.
We said yesterday that “travel breeds adventure”. Whilst Charles crossed the ancient Stane Street path and carried on past Bignor Hill we could not bring ourselves to do so just yet. When we got there we found a stray lamb had escaped from an adjoining field and was in distress because it could not get back to its mother. There followed a comic scene where a number of brightly coloured cyclists could be seen herding this lost sheep back into its home field.
This duly done we headed on to the next adventure. Now the really great thing about Bignor Hill is that it is very high, which means that once up there you can whizz downhill for miles on a bike – really great fun. Eventually Whiteways lodge is reached and from there Charles (and we too) descended into a village called Houghton. You might know this place too if you have ever been to the nearby Amberley Chalk Pits Museum.
Charles was now so desperate for time that whilst he took refreshments at the pub in Houghton his party did not even get off of their horses! The pub is called The George and Dragon and to this day a sign over the door confirms the royal presence in 1651, please see the picture below.
Charles then took a path along the River Arun to Arundel but Cromwell’s soldiers were still in hot pursuit. Wandering around Arundel Charles almost bumped into the Governor of Arundel castle and later nearly passed Parliamentarian agents in the main street. Luckily Charles spotted the danger in good time and quickly scurried away down a side street. Next time you visit Arundel think about Charles and imagine the anxiety he must have felt walking about amongst Cromwell’s followers.
Arundel used to be a sea port too but there was no chance of a boat here either! The party left Arundel continuing through Angmering Park Woods to reach Findon, passing what is today called Tolmare Farm. He rode around Church Hill, past the church that you all visit from time to time and down into Findon. He travelled up Steep Lane and across Nepcote Green. The next time you visit Nepcote Green do look for the tiny Monarch’s Way emblems on the signposts.  And the next time that we all go up to church let’s imagine Charles taking a little shelter there – and maybe sipping a glass of the communion wine ?
Yesterday our own party left Arundel too as we had faithfully followed Charles’ route so far. Not all of our party made it home from there: as Mr. Mead pedaled hard to get away there was a bang from the bottom gears on his bike as the mechanism shattered spectacularly. He came home by car thanks to a kind Mrs. Mead, but he will continue onwards today with a new bike.
Charles passed quite quickly through Findon. His party would ride 40 miles on horseback that day – an incredible journey given that it has taken us twice that time on fast bikes. Charles was still not sure where he would find his ship and continued as far as what is now called Brighton. Here he was again disappointed to not secure a passage to France. However, his luck was about to change. Word reached the party that a ship,  manned by loyal supporters of the King, would sail from nearby Shoreham very soon. So Charles had to race back to Shoreham harbour ……  would he make it in time?
Today our ride starts from outside Findon church and when we leave school we will follow exactly Charles’ route from Findon to Shoreham, so that means cycling to Brighton and then back to Shoreham harbour. Will we make it in time? Well who knows, but rather than make you wait the whole week to hear what happened to Charles we will tell you now: he did indeed make it in time, he escaped successfully to France where he lived for a number of years. But he had previously been deposed from his old job as King of England and that seemed unfair. Oliver Cromwell was ruling in his place but after a few years he too was deposed. The people decided that they wanted Charles back as King and so he was invited to return from his exile and take the crown, which he duly did in a move which is called the “restoration of the monarchy”.
The rest is history and we still have a monarch today. For now our monarch is Queen Elizabeth; when she finishes being queen she will be replaced by her son who is also called Charles, so he will be King Charles III. What will happen to him? As Mr. Mead told you before we set out on this adventure things didn’t end well for Charles the first and as we have seen here that the life of Charles II was in danger for quite a long time!
You might have to wait until after half-term to find out how we got on. So far we have suffered one tyre puncture, one nearly exploding tyre, two broken chains and poor Mr. Mead’s shattered gears. A few of us have fallen off our bikes a few times – only to lay down covered with mud – but so far no injuries. We’ll send Mr. Cumming a picture of what happens today so maybe you’ll hear later.
Thanks again to you all for showing such a kind interest in our adventures and those of the Monarch  Charles II. We wish you all an enjoyable half-term holiday.

Monarch’s Way ride – Thursday update from Mr Roche

Thursday, May 27th, 2021
Yesterday we started cycling from Winchester heading east. You will remember that we arrived at Winchester (once the ancient capital city of England), from Salisbury following the path taken by King Charles II on the trek that he made on his way to France. He wanted to escape pursuit and capture by the armies of Oliver Cromwell, the man who had taken away his role as the King of England.
We know that Charles eventually finished his journey in Shoreham, a town close to where we all live. The best route from Winchester to Shoreham is via the South Downs Way, an ancient track that follows the tops of the South Downs and would have been ideal for Charles’ purpose. So why did he not go this way? Well, at this time Charles did not actually know that he wanted to go from Shoreham. All he wanted to do was to leave from somewhere …… anywhere …. along the south coast to get away from Cromwells army who knew of his whereabouts and were slowly closing in on him.
From his secret hideout in Winchester he would first have sent parties of loyal followers due south to check if he could get on a ship from Southampton or Portsmouth. In those days there were no car ferries as we have today day, just a basic Navy fleet who were already committed to serving Oliver Cromwell. So he had no luck there. But maybe there might be a chance of securing a boat at one of the smaller ports: perhaps Emsworth or Chichester? But again no luck there either as it was soon found that these towns too were under the control of Cromwell’s men!
And so Charles’ route (and ours yesterday), went south and then east from Winchester. He crossed the beautiful Hampshire countryside as it undulates – which means it rises and falls in height usually quite gently but there are still some steep hills – please see the photo below. The great thing about this sort of open countryside is that once you have reached the top of a hill you can coast gently downhill for miles and miles without pedalling. There’s a great expression that says that “travel brings adventure” and this sort of riding is certainly that, it is like being on a great big long roller-coaster fare ground ride that lasts for ages and ages.
Similarly, when you travel long distances you often accidentally find things that you didn’t expect to see. For example – and this is nothing to do with Charles II – as we cycled close to a village called Hambledon we happened to find a memorial stone, located on a village cricket green opposite a pub called “The Bat and Ball’. But this is not any old cricket green or any old pub: rather, it is the very place where the modern day game of cricket was devised,100 years or so after Charles passed here.
The view in the photo below shows the outlook from the highest point on our ride of yesterday. This place is called Old Winchester Hill  which itself is a bit odd because whilst it certainly is a hill and it is very old, it is a long way from Winchester. From up here Charles, like us, would have been able to see clearly right across to the English Channel. The hills that you can just see in the far distance are actually the Downs on The Isle of Wight. This view is very similar fo that which Charles would have seen in his time, indeed it is known that Stone and Iron Age people lived up here because this place has a hill fort almost almost identical to our own Cissbury Ring near Findon. The Roman’s would also have stationed themselves up here to keep watch out to sea in case their enemies approached!
From these forts people could send messages using beacons (made of small fires) to flash news to the next fort and from there on to London or down to the coast. It certainly would have been possible for someone standing on this hill to send and receive coded messages with someone on Cissbury Ring. Perhaps Charles’ party managed to receive messages from Findon to tell them that they could safely proceed there, as we intend to do today.
What King Charles would not have seen are the tall chimneys seen distantly on the right of our picture as these are part of a modern day oil refinery near Southampton; similarly he would not see the tall pillar in the middle distance as this is the recently completed Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.
We are now staying in a village called Rowlands Castle and from here we plan to ride to Findon arriving at your school tomorrow morning. We hope to see you then.

Monarch’s Way ride – Wednesday update from Mr Roche to the school

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
Now where were we with our story? Ah yes …. our monarch, King Charles the second, was fleeing to France pursued by his old enemy Oliver Cromwell, who had at his command the parliamentarian army….. and our modern day collection of cyclists are following in the King’s footsteps (or those of his horse). By the way this latter party of modern day trail followers consists of riders who all have a connection with your school – they are either Governors, ex-governors, the husbands of one of these two options, or they are parents of past children of your school – and some are more than one of these. For instance Mr. Mead  is a Governor, a parent of former pupils and is also one of your teachers. We are doing all this to raise funds for our PTA and this is also going very well.
So, the journey of Charles II (and ours yesterday) from Salisbury to Winchester was a little bit easier than the day before. For us the weather was better and for both us and King Charles the pathway was easier. This is all thanks to the Romans who 1200 years before Charles had constructed a network of roads around Britain to enable them to march their troops about. Luckily for all of us all they had built a road that joined Salisbury and Winchester and Charles (and us) were able to travel this same track nearly 1600  years after the Roman’s first laid it out (or in our case nearly 2000 years later).
When the Romans built roads they built them well and they made them straight – see picture below. Where ever possible they ensured that there weren’t too many climbs up to the top, (something that we reaĺly appreciated too), that they could see for miles around – in case their enemy’s were coming – and that they could be sure of safe passage without being ambushed by bad people. All of this was ideal for King Charles too because he could never know when he might meet one of Cromwell’s followers. King Charles now needed to make a speedy journey because his enemies were hot on his trail and the pressure was getting greater! Oliver Cromwell’s people were everywhere and they were closing in!
Let’s consider his situation. Much like our queen today Charles was of royal birth. Just like Queen Elizabeth he travelled with a group of supporters where ever he went and it would not have been hard to notice them. How easy would it have been for one of Cromwell’s spies to spot the party and quickly gather soldiers to arrest them? How would Charles have got around this problem? Those of you who have watched ‘Horrible Histories’ will know that he managed this by hiding out and by clever disguise. There are many stories of when the party encountered people along the way who could have reported them to Cromwell’s army; for Charles that would have been the end!
On one occasion we know that he hid from his enemies in an oak tree. Today this is remembered readily because many English pubs bear the name The Royal Oak to commemorate this event. On other occasions we know that he dressed as a peasnt to ensure that he could proceed without being noticed. He nearly came to a sticky end one day when delivering his horse to a blacksmith for new shoes. Charles handed over his horse and whilst idly chatting the blacksmith said to Charles, “you’d better watch out, the King’s party are about in this area……. I hope they catch the blighters soon”. Thank goodness Charles was well disguised.
So Charles’ journey was going well, but his pursuers were closing in. He was reliant on kind and faithful followers to keep him hidden, keep the party fed and watered and keep him disguised as a common day peasant worker, all whilst speeding his passage. He (and we), left Salisbury and are now in Winchester; both cities had and still have today, large cathedrals. Salisbury Cathedral is still the tallest in England and Winchester cathedral would be the place where Charles would now head to say prayers for his safe onward passage. Here lurked danger too: a congregation that might consist of either his own supporters or those of Oliver Cromwell, who you will probably know had replaced him as England’s head of state.
Charles dare not let on that others sharing communion in this now protestant cathedral were in the presence of royalty.
Over the last two days and during tomorrow (we hope), we will have cycled across 100+ miles of open countryside, seeing attractive and constantly varying scenery. Like Charles we have avoided main roads and towns, not because we are afraid of being seen by enemy forces – thankfully these no longer exist – but because we want to enjoy off-road cycling.
We would thoroughly recommend to you all taking up this hobby and sport. Perhaps you might want to form your own club – but don’t forget to include some adults too. If any of you take this up we hope that you will find it a pleasurable experience to travel long distances untroubled by anything except perhaps the odd steep hill – hard work to climb up but great fun to whizz down once you have done all the work of ascending to the top and enjoying the views. All you need to enjoy all this is a bike, safely equipped with good gears and all-important brakes, and for a few years hence a grown-up to accompany you (and carry your picnic lunch). You will also need to be the sort of young person who loves getting as wet and muddy as we are today.
We look forward to meeting you all on Friday morning and will try and write to you again tomorrow.