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25 Oct, Barley Mow

Blog 25th October – The Barley Mow Walderton – Slippy chalk nightmare

Dearest SHABI’s

The RM, having had much trouble organising a pub on previous rides was delighted to discover the Landlord of the Barley Mow was eager to have ten or so sweaty, smelly, mountain bikers in for supper and all was organised.

Despite much haranguing from the RM regarding “pre-ordering” there was the usual chaos from the word “GO” and the Landlady had to come around asking riders for their choices. Poor show riders – must do better next time.

So it was the finest SHABI’s that prepared for departure including: Smashie (RM), Strangely Brown (DRM), Mrs Doyle, RG Bhaji, Little Girls Bike (Temporary), Faff, Slumpy and his carer Tonya, Big Ring, Whoops-a-Daisy and Nurse Brown.


But before we talk about the ride …………lets talk about the riders, and this weeks in depth profile is none other than our own RG Bhaji. A recent recruit and many will have noticed she is in fact a woman. Nothing ground breaking in that you may say, and so the following biography is of course totally inaccurate and thoroughly unresearched (as you would expect).

The Bhaji family originally hail from Lincolnshire having emigrated in 739BC from the Holy Land. The Bhaji family were a regular source of grief for various invaders with TT Bhaji being a right hand woman to Boudica (although that did not end particularly well for her as we know).

Big Bad TT Bhaji Boudica united 1000's of Britons against the Romans

A few centuries later, GG Bhaji was a notorious highwaywoman who regularly held up stage coaches on the London to Sheerness route. GG Bhaji was never brought to justice as she was able to retire on her ill-gotten gains. So far, so illegal, but the Right honourable ABC Bhaji was a renowned scholar and was elected the first MP of the rotten borough of Little Snoring on Sea.

So many ancestors, so many stories...

Despite minutes of in-depth research, nothing much is heard of the Bhaji family until the early 1900’s. Mrs and Mrs TS Bhaji were the proud parents of RG Bhaji (subject of this blog) who was born in 1984 as an only child apart from her ten brothers and sisters. Her early years showed much promise with the ability to count and spell her own name after a couple of goes.

One branch of the Bhaji Family didn't look like this

RG’s parents were the “no nonsense” type and her strict upbringing made her a bit of a “rebel” and she consequently joined the Army as a helicopter technician. Many a happy day was spent up to her neck in some muddy field changing the main gearbox on some Field Marshall’s personal helicopter. However, her promising career in the army was cut short due a small mishap with some wiring resulting in a surface to air missile being accidentally fired and taking out a phalanx of Portaloo’s that were advancing across no-mans land. Lootenant Dan had a similar incident with a goat. There is a pattern emerging here.

Helicopter joke

So she left the Army and trained as an Ophthalmic Optician, where her robust style has won her legions of admiring suitors. Adept at selling even the most hideous frames to those with a “challenging appearance” she has contributed to a sharp increase in profits at her local optician and her future wealth is assured. God bless you Ma’am.

RG Bhaji known for her wicked sense fo humour!

So now you know a little bit more about our RG Bhaji!


So onto the ride

Setting off in reasonable time (LGBT has as first warning for nearly being late) we head straight up the Slippy Chalk hill resulting in at least two falls for RG Bhaji and Tonya. It was indeed very slippy but no physical injuries – just mental scaring.

Then onto the “Devil’s Jumps” and Strangely (who has now self-appointed himself as the official Swami to the SHABI’s) gave a spiritual tour of the surrounding countryside “….and over there is Whoops-A-Daisy’s garden shed with security light….blah blah” – it was riveting and you can see why so many SHABI’s are now seeking guidance from anyone other than Strangely.

Yay, Devils Jumps
The Devils Jumps are a Bronze Age cemetery. Together they form the largest linear barrow formation in West Sussex and they seem to be aligned with the direction of the sunset on midsummer day.
The Devils Jumps are 3,000 years old and were first excavated by the Victorians, who found bones in two of the largest barrows.

Then along the road to the field above Chilgrove. Mrs Doyle has a puncture and sets about changing the tyre like a whirling dervish. The skill, speed and dexterity left the rest of us in awe. Offers of assistance “can I find the spare innertube for you” were in invariably met with a comment along the lines of “thankyou but the new one is already fitted”. However Mrs Doyle, be warned, your demonstrable competence is not really the “SHABI way of doing things” so please take the time to crash into a Wheelie bin or something otherwise you wont fit in.

It's all fun and games until someone gets a mechanical, then the vibe changes

Then across the “field of long grass”. Tough going but worth it as we barrel down the “green lane” towards Upper lower Marden. Excellent singetrack stuff dodging the trees, roots, badger burrows etc.

Then up the hill (pleasure before the pain on this ride) and Tonya nearly gets a misdemeanour point for overtaking the RM and being told to stop at the “running dear” road sign. The sign was actually for “warning horse riders crossing” so narrow escape for our hero.

Up to the left turn to oblivion and another hill to climb and Tonya gets a misdemeanour point for failing to stop as instructed “by the house”. Everyone else does apart from Tonya so “guilty as charged”.

Then a simple bimble back to the pub including a tricky descent with many slippy rocks and so on. LGB(T) is pretty fearless on these descents so LBD will now have some competition in the award for “Downhill lunatic of the Year”.

Excellent pub meal – served with a smile – good portion size and reasonably prices. We will be revisiting this pub!

I love you all ♥


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)

Dear Binky,

Please help – I have many challenges in life and don’t need another one to add onto the list as my brain as its full.

I would like to ride with my local MTB group but I have an E-bike. What is the correct etiquette when riding an E-bike with luddites who insist on pedalling without assistance?

Yours in eager anticipation

L Lee (Liphook)

Dear L,

I can understand your concern. There are unfortunately a lot of purists out there who insist they will not mix with E-bikers as they are “not pure”.

Well that’s a load of bollocks, and if you encounter such people then you should avoid riding with them on principle.

However some handy hints to assist you blend in:

1. Don’t ride away, and off the front, as it will be demoralise the “pedal pushers”. Keep in with the groupetto and chat to everyone.

2. Don’t start a long conversation on say “the merits of Brexit” on a long uphill. You may have enough breath to talk – but most “pedal pushers” will be suffering from oxygen starvation.

3. If a “pedal pusher” is having a bad day – offer to push them along

4. Offer “pedal pushers” the chance to “try out” your E-bike – secretly most want one anyway

5. Remember to charge your bike – running out of power will not elicit much sympathy and you will probably be left to die where you fall.

Considerate E-bikers are totally welcome to 99.9% of “pedal Pusher” MTB riders – those who don’t welcome E-bikes are generally sad lonely people.

Binky has now spoken on E-bikes. Hope this helps.



Dear Binky,

I am so fed up with changing out of my muddy MTB clothes in the cold after my bike ride.

What do you recommend?

NB of Crondall

Dear NB,

I get changed on a deep pile carpet to keep my toes toasty warm.

Find an offcut of top-quality carpet, cut into 12” squares and Sellotape to your feet. Then wherever you go your feet will be safe and warm .

Hope this helps


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