22 Dec, Crondall, (16,10)
Crondall to Caesars Camp: 12.08 miles, 781 ft Ascent, 2 falls (Dolly). 1 early bath. No mechanicals.
The lost blog is a bit like the discovery of a lost Alf Garnet episode of ''Till Death Us Do Part" or finding out about the love child you never knew you had from a forgotten relationship with a Middle Eastern Transvestite whilst working in Dubai as an Air Hostess in the 1980s - both strangely satisfying, yet something you really would like to keep to yourself. More of that later.
The SHABI Christmas Story starts with a reading from the book of Ghengis, Chapter 2, Verse 69:
"....and lo, a bright star (probably a satellite) shall guide you unto a 3x3m square close to the town of Crondall (just off the A327) where a baby called "Baby of Lockdown" doth reside. 3 Kings, 4 Shepherds an Angel too (6 in total) appeareth to celebrate the birth of another one, called "Faffer with the Cheeks of a Pig". And the Lord (Pointsmaster) did say unto them "He's not the Messiah, he's 3 days early and he's a very naughty boy"""".
Loosely translated this meant, just another SHABI Tues ride which just happened to fall on the same day as Faff's 5th and 1st birthday and which also happened to fall immediately prior to Christmas. Any other similarities with the Christmas story are entirely deliberate.
This Christmas blog has started badly though - the only paper record in existence being the victim of a 60 degree wash in the laundry at Faffy Towers which means that the precise number of Shabis is unknown but is believed to include: Slasher, Smashie, Strangely Brown, Trollied Dolly, Slumpy and his carer Tonka, Big Ring, King Daisy (who had travelled far) and Faff Cheeks. 6 in total.
But not started as badly as the start of the ride itself. Dolly had been assigned as RM and, taking his social responsibilities seriously, had decided to show solidarity with the UKs Homeless population over this difficult Christmas period by drinking alcoholic beverages from breakfast time right throughout the day.
Realising this had the potential to affect his performance on the SHABI ride, Dolly had also taken the wise precaution of keeping his fitness levels up by throwing in a trip to the local Rugby Club and a round of Golf, accompanied by one Club and 9 Hip Flasks. Strangely Brown immediately realised this would render Dolly 'excessively fit' and offered Faffy the opportunity to take over RM duties as the only 'local' present with a retained mental capacity for navigation and the ability to provide directions using actual speech whilst operating machinery with opposable thumbs.
King Smashie had brought some Frankincense flavoured mince pies which were washed down with copious quantities of a nice malt from Faffy's cellar. Almost enough to breach the tiny mince pie foil containers. Dolly, who was getting cold by this point and said he would have preferred some "feckin' anti freeze", was installed on ' the Bird festooned with Gold' and off they went, with a feint whiff of what could only be described as Myhrrh, following behind.
The ride headed South towards the old Castle at Barley Pound with the Shabis enjoying the slimy mud (slightly incompatible with the gradient) and Dolly declaring this so enjoyable that he literally decided to get off half way up for a good roll around in it.
Then it happened, the ghost of Christmas past, or rather Summer past. On reaching the Well Road, King Daisy turned to Faff and said "Isn't this part of the the ride we did here before in August?" Faffy had been rumbled - you've heard of 'The Pub With No Name'', well this was 'The Ride With No Blog'. Click Here for the Ride with No BLOG
Unfortunately there was no time to discuss this as having reached Tarmac, Dolly had sped off with renewed vigour. A pause at the top of a dangerous switchback for a safety briefing by a now mildly-concerned Faffy got a stiff ignoring. Dolly decided it was slightly colder than he'd anticipated and, by 'cycling' with a relaxed approach to longitudinal awareness managed to simultaneously give himself a facial on the Tarmac, rearrange his head torch to provide additional heating between his eyes and insulate the gaps in his cycling helmet with a surprisingly thermally-efficient combination of mud and grass.
He also hurt his knee - poor little soldier.
After a suitable show of concern for Dolly's wellbeing, the group set off 30 seconds later up a steep climb onto the Old Deer Park ridge and along St Swithan's Way. St Swithan, of course was famous for inventing rain and therefore mud and said that anyone who didn't cycle in mud on a Tuesday must spend the next 40 days without access to a public house unless they paid a fine of Seventeen Earth Pounds.
At this this point the pace picked up somewhat and the group reached the A287 - universally agreed as the highlight of the ride. Dolly said that his life was now complete and felt emotional so, accompanied by Strangely Brown for road safety and legal reasons that we won't go into here, made his way back to Crondall.
The rest of the group crossed over into Caesars Camp - named as an expression of affection given by the local Aldershot community to the occupying Roman forces of the time - and now used for basic training of Infantry Troops on how to use a portable toilet in the dark whilst disassembling reassembling an SA80 rifle and eating a Greggs pasty with one hand and sexting the Missus in Liverpool with the other.
A brief pause for a lavatory stop was held at the old Roman fort overlooking Brown Loaf, Cheese Hill, Windy Gap and Long Bottom - places where Special Forces have been successfully trained for years to resist the urge to cave-in to the vulgarity of toilet humour during extreme stress.
Farnborough Airport twinkled in the distance with the traditional COVID-compliant departures of executive jets to European Ski resorts for their annual super-spreader appointments - compulsory as part of the recently announced trade deal with the EU.
A quick hop over 'the stile of death' lead the group back along some technical singletrack and then, with time pressing on, a fast decent down Dora's Green Lane and a Bodie and Doyle style roll under a newly installed electric farm gate and back along the christmas lights lined roads into Crondall.
The Inn, predictably, was full, but in a stable-like structure at the rear sat Strangely Brown accompanied by Dolly AKA 'Trollied', the latter sporting an impeccable side parting and looking like a homeless person that had just been given a BBC 'Comic Relief' style makeover.
Dolly did us proud, having organised a superb Fish and Chips supper served by either an Angel or a Supermodel. Nobody was sure which. And hardly anyone noticed. But we'll be back for sure.
Stay Safe in 2021