10 Mar, Emsworth Beach, (11,18)
Captain Frackbladder, the General will see you now.
Ah Frackbladder, come in, come in. Now in this great pendulum of struggle we think it is about time for a meaningless sacrifice. I thought something amphibious would fit the bill……..
The RM proposed something a little different – a new route, varied terrain, high mileage for this time of year, and, breaking with tradition, a meal costing more than £17.
So 11 brave SHABI souls - including a reappearing Genghis attracted by the military conquering of foreign lands proposed – gather in the car park behind Tescos in Emsworth. And then headed south – yes south – down Queens Street to the beach!
Once over the storm pushed seaweed, Slumpy got out his beach ball, Dobbie his towel, and Chuff and Smashie organised a volleyball competition. BigRing stuck to sandcastles and Strangely topped up. Despite it being dark. Luckily the tide was out.
Tonka managed to find a slippy concrete spot to have a nasty fall – number 1.
Appendages and thoughts gathered we continue to the quay whereupon the RM issues a very clear STEALTH MODE command. For the uninitiated, which is seemingly the whole peloton, STEALTH MODE is invoked when, despite being morally amphibious, the imminent section might induce unjustified acosting or unwanted interventions. What part of STEALTH MODE do you not get – as 10 Christmas Trees with sparklers rode the wrong way up a one way street.
Anyway, round the mill pond and back to the beach where a nice South-Westerly had kicked in – bracing indeed. West to the end of Nore Barn Wood, where we turned north away from the surf and toward the turf. (Faff Cheeks later dubbed this transition Sheep to Shore - or rather Shore to Sheep)
Through Emsworth towards Lumley, where the RM spots a familiar path but which has an unfamiliar flat, calm appearance – which was also quite deep with the flood waters from the Lumley Mill stream. Still it didn’t quite reach waist height. Wet feet only then.
And then we hit more familiar territory i.e. muddy, slippy chalk, hilly, as we rode north east from Lumley to Woodmancote (bluebell wood with no bluebells) then to Adsdean - a nice long gentle long chalky long climb.
Tonka had a sweary slippy chalky off – number 2.
At the top of the climb, we entered the clouds. And then descended on the safest route back down (known as Cardiac locally) into Stoughton. On the descent, Chuff spotted and chased the local ISIS baby badger.
Having followed Chuffy’s navigation strategy to this point – keep riding away from the start point for over 90 minutes – the RM opted for the shortest route back to town – mostly road, well muddy lanes – got overtaken by runners - through the Stanstead Estate with a little bit of Paris-Roubaix cobbles on a short climb towards Hollybank, then an inconclusive free wheel face-off. And downhill all the way to the car park.
Apologies to Slumpy who got a bit cold, anyone who got a bit wet, and everyone because we got back a bit late after 2hours 20 – 18 miles. Taste of India were hospitable and flexible and provided the backdrop for the hallowed t-shirt award ceremony for Strangely: