22 Jan, The Devils Punchbowl Hotel (8,14)
The Devils Punchbowl Hotel has an awesomely bad reputation in SHABI circles, poor service and a complete failure to provide any food after 7:30 pm meant that despite its excellent position, no Tuesday night ride has started from here for some years.
Nevertheless, Smashie decided to RM from this very location but as a precaution booked a table and warned the brave souls riding to expect the worst. Indeed, the weather didn’t auger well with the rain unable to decide whether to snow or not on the eight brave souls riding including; Smashie (RM), Chuff (assistant RM), Genghis, Corke, Slumpy, Daisy, Samantha and Sir Fallalot.
We ordered the food and fettled the bikes giving Samantha much abuse for flucking about. He was in such a hurry he ended up riding in shorts – oh that was cold but clearly, he is a hard man. We start riding and Chuffy is the designated back marker as we head off into thick mist. The mud was not frozen as hoped, and we splash our way along the punchbowl ridgeline. Then onwards to the Descent of Calamity and we all make it down safely. A great descent but a tad slippy.
Then along the road to Frencham with the mud so deep around the ford that walking and pushing was required. Sir Fallalot falls for the first time. We reach the lakes and all is good with some great single track with drops and stuff. Then onwards and over the A456 Haslemere to Belfast trunk road and towards Thursley. Up and down some very sharp inclines and then some more great Singletrack. The RM gets lost and the Peleton traverse a very deep ford – twice. The RM is not popular.
Sir Fallalot comes off again.
Then on towards the other Frencham ponds and some North Shore riding over the bog of the Beelzebub and we skirt the ponds. The RM gets lost but reserve RM, Chuffy, rescues the day and we head on towards Hankley Common golf club.
We then meet a group of riders on the Golf Course led by an energetic woman called Jackie who runs an MTB fitness course. Smashie was busy trying to recruit this charming lady when
Sir Fallalot falls off again ………. in front of them all.
This spectacular display of incompetence has inspired this blogger to poetry:
Of all the Knights in Appledore The wisest was Sir Fall-a-lot. He multiplied as far as four, or maybe five And knew what nine was taken from to make eleven. Twenty-three. He could write an E-mail to another Knight…. so there No other Knight in all the land Could do the things which he could do. Not only did he understand The way to steer his bike, but knew What remedy a Knight should seek Whose SPD’s were on too tight. And, if he didn't pedal too much, It wasn't that he didn't care For blips and buffetings and such, But felt that it was hardly fair To risk, by frequent injuries, A face as delicate as his. His castle (Castle Nick) was set Conveniently on a hill; And daily, when it wasn't wet, He paced the battlements until Some smaller rider who couldn't swim Should reach the moat and challenge him. Or sometimes, feeling full of fight, He hurried out to scour the plain, And, seeing some approaching Knight, He either hurried home again, Or hid; and, when the foe was past, Blew a triumphant trumpet-blast. One day when good Sir Fallalot Was resting in a handy ditch, The noises he was hiding from, Though very much the noises which He'd always hidden from before, Seemed somehow less....Or was it more? The rasping tyre, the breathless SHABI The grinding gears, the SPD’s squeak, These, and especially the last, Had puffed by him all the week. Was this the same, or was it not? Something was different. But what? Sir Fallalot raised a cautious ear And listened as Chuff went by, And suddenly he seemed to hear (Or not to hear) the reason why This stranger made a nicer sound Than other riders who lived around. Sir Fallalot watched the way he went - His rage was such he couldn't speak, For years they'd called him down in Hants The Knight Whose SPD’s Didn't Squeak! Yet here and now he looked upon Another rider whose squeak had gone. He rushed to where his bike was chained; He pedalled to a rapid speed The only fear he felt inside About his enemy was not "How tight his SPD?" "How stout his heart?" But "Has he got too long a start?" Chuff was singing, hand on hip, When something sudden came along, And caught him a terrific blip Right in the middle of his song. "A thunderstorm!" he thought. "Of course!" And toppled gently off into gorse. Then said the good Sir Fallalot, Dismounting with a friendly air, "Allow me to extract you from That SPD that you wear. At times like these the bravest Knight May find his SPD’s much too tight." A hundred yards or so beyond The scene of brave Chuff’s defeat Sir Fallalot found a useful pond, And, careful not to wet his feet, He brought Chuff’s Bird to the brink, And flung it in...and watched it sink. So ever after, more and more, The men of Hants would proudly speak Of Sir Fallalot of Appledore, "The Knight Whose SPD’s Didn't Squeak." Whilst Chuff, the Knight who gave him best, Squeaks just as badly as the rest
So anyway, after butchering AA Milne’s masterpiece, Smashie promptly asked young Jackie for her number which she gladly imparted much to the amazement of Slumpy (clearly he would have deployed his usual chat up line synonymous with the Antipodes of “brace yourself Sheila”). Anyway, no-one was insulted or hurt, apart from Sir Fallalot’s pride, and we raced on over the ridges eager to get back for some food.
The Peleton was getting a bit strung out and the climb through the Devil’s punchbowl certainly put everyone on the limit with the final step causing Samantha to take a fall whilst pushing his bike, his shorts suffering a sudden updraft which disconcerted our hero.
After a bit of brain fade from the RM when you needed it least, and we arrive at the Devils Punchbowl Hotel in fair order.
Then a meal for Smashie, Sir Fallalot, Corke, Genghis, Samantha, Slumpy and Chuff (trying the Chicken burger – WTF) with 14 Miles for all.
T shirt points for Smashie, Chuff, Genghis and Corke with Smashie as RM and bonus point recommended for Chuff as deputy RM. Falls for Samantha – 1 no and Sir Fallalot – 4 no – unbelievable but true.
Food was reasonable but served with a smile and at a reasonably late time – worth another try – just.
Meanwhile check out Jackie’s website – https://www.mtbforfitness.com/ food for thought for our Algernon’s brave efforts to put the SHABI’s out there on social media.