20th Sept – The valley of certain death.
Yet more pub trouble with the phone at the White Horse in EASTBOURNE going unanswered for days on end. When it was answered on Tuesday at 5:30 the RM was cheerfully informed that there is no food on Tuesdays.
Too late to change the RV, so we parked and fettled the bikes in the car park as usual. Both RG Bhaji and Smash are competing on who can wear the most “fashionable lycra undergarments”. Smash is winning this by a country mile having gone “baby pink” at Weavers Down the previous day.
We set off with a good showing; Slumpy and his carer Tonka, Faff, LBD, RG Bhaji, Gary Newman, Big Ring DRM, TsJ and Smashie as RM
After lot of talk bigging up this ride as being the nearest any SHABI will ever come to certain death on a Tuesday night, many newcomers were a tad apprehensive and the rest of us made no attempt to reassure them whatsoever and we set off in good order to the top of Bexley Hill.
Bexley Hill is a hill that keeps on giving, and giving some more, and is a false flat in every sense.
Nevertheless, we make the top in good order and head towards the Vining Farm Descent. The Descent is actually in two parts, the first flowing and fast, the second, flowing and fast with added brambles. Everyone is a winner and rejoice as the everlasting bog of doom at the bottom was actually quite dry as we head for Pooh sticks bridge.
The Descent is actually in two parts, the first flowing and fast, the second, flowing and fast with added brambles. Everyone is a winner and rejoice as the everlasting bog of doom at the bottom was actually quite dry as we head for Pooh sticks bridge.
Faff has a reinflation problem and the other riders attempted Pooh sticks – unfortunately some misheard the instruction and only swift action by the Health and Safety officer prevented a lot of offence being caused (as you know everyone likes to be offended these days when it comes to Pooh – its righteous).
Then up heart attack hill and its fair to say everyone was on the red line. Then along the ledge with the drop to infinity and beyond to the right, and we prepare for the European Championship Freewheel face off course with a quick explanation of the rules to the newcomers. Everything was ready to go and we had a clean start with no cheating. Immediately Tonka was penalised for impeding another rider and TsJ was also reprimanded for “gaining and unfair advantage through excessive flatulence”. In the end everyone was disqualified for cheating so all in all – a triumph of clean and fair competition the SHABI way.
So now the highlight of the ride has arrived – the Valley of certain death. The conditions were dry and firm, and visibility very good. Tonka goes first followed by the others and soon everyone is at maximum speed. This ancient sunken track is amazing with rocky outcrops and ancient tree roots everywhere. At night time these rear up at you as go up the side of the valley to avoid boulders and tree branches. Mere words in a blog cannot do this trail justice.
Down at the bottom the sides of the valley are some 20ft tall and quite awesome. Big Ring has a blow out due to overenthusiastic ramming of a large rock but being tubeless he is back on the road after a quick pump up.
Over the canal and up the A48345 Arbroath to Stranraer trunk road (before widened section) and we pass the former Petworth railway station which now has some railway carriages you can rent for the night.
We have no time for this and we head on turning right into the woods and another downhill where Smash acquires a large stick in the gear train. Once removed everything is fine thankfully!
Then we ford the river and re-join a trail next to the disused railway track. Up to this point Faff is a pretty happy chap and has avoided getting his bike dirty despite the water splash at the ford.
Certain death may have been cheated before, but now has revenge.
The RM is leading and is located in the right-hand rut and Faff on the left, but slightly behind. The RM suddenly realises that the tractor ruts are FULL of cow effluent flowing from the nearby cowshed. He engages emergency power so as not to stall mid-midden and ploughs onwards. The effluent gets deeper and deeper and soon our hero’s shoes are filling up with liquid cow poop. Finally he makes it through the first effluent filled rut, avoids another, ploughs through some firm cow poop, and makes it to concrete.
Behind there is chaos. There is wailing and cursing and the RM’s parentage is questioned in forceful terms in an Anglo-Saxon dialect. Everywhere there are SHABIS climbing on gates, scrambling through bushes in a vain attempt to avoid the liquid cow poop .. and a fat lot of good it did them. Everyone is now smelling like a farmyard and covered in green slimy yuk.
But no time to hesitate. We are late and speed back to the pub with everyone putting in a good effort hoping to disperse the shite now plastered all over. The wise rider cycled with is or her mouth shut for obvious reasons.
Back past the Cowdray ruins and up the hill to the pub.
More cursing the RM as people gingerly put their stinky bikes back into their pristine “go to work cars” and peeled off the splattered clothing. Yuk
Then the SHABIs so what we do best. When the pub is not doing food, we go posh. Yes the Midhurst Grill and Pizza was our top choice and OMFG did we need the SETTLERS. Only a few ate as they only accepted cash and so it was only; Faff, LBD, Garry Newman and Smash who squashed round the table for 3 ½ to eat all washed down with copious quantities of fizzy sugary cans of …er drink.
Faff nearly kills himself when his follicly challenged head goes near the INSECTOCUTER fly killing machine. (See below for Photo of the year competition entry...)
Overall a triumph of the SHABI’s indomitable spirit over adversity.
Scores on the doors
BINKY BYKEKNUT – A Cycling legend answers your questions
In this feature, Binky will fearlessly tackle any personal or technical issues you might have (these can be submitted via the SHABI Whatsapp group)
No Binky – he’s competing in the RED BULL Hardline event near his gaff fin Wales
I Love you all