27 Apr, Horse&Groom, (6,3,15)
A warm welcome awaited the gathering throng in the car park of the Horse and Groom - "Is this car park just for cyclists then?" a perturbed local voiced.....
To be fair, the nine riders in seven vehicles did take up quite a bit of parking space - reduced by the positioning of the sumptuous and warm al fresco dining tent.
Anyway, locals assuaged, we were ready for the off on time, apart from a few minutes FAFFing. I mention no names - although I just did.
So with 3 minutes to catch up, Fracker (RM) set off at a keen pace northwards to Kingley Vale through the first bluebell exhibit of the evening. In honour of the absent - you know who you are - a climb ensued forthwith. Much sweating, puffing and questioning of parentage later we arrived and checked that all ten riders were still with us. 'But there are only nine of us' .... well we've order ten meals - the RM obviously putting the "I" in idiot again. Keep up the good work. Extra fish and chips for me then.
Some words now on technology - it is a good thing. And allowed us to welcome Slash's mate - Robert 'E for Electric' Lee - specialst subjects: pie and cider . Not the first outing for an e-bike on a Shabi ride (That dubious honour went to Dobbie some time ago).
Peloton warmed up and breaths regathered now set to the downhill section at Adsdean. Fast flowing downhill - just watch out for oncoming brides. Apparently it is faster in the wet - and certainly less dusty which was a major complaint all through the ride. Could one of the more technically minded Shabis develop a water distribution system to damp down the dust to be used by the RM / head of the group so protecting the followers?
Then a detour for bluebells, pausing only for CFB to pump up something and for the group to see the piglets, we wended our way to the glorious display of spring flowers in the woods north of the Woodmancote. A serene and slightly surreal haze of purple on green disappearing into the distance provided most observers with a time for admiration and reflection - apart from Slumpy whose earthy comments regarding the best type of film to make in that environs brought us back to the brutality and despair of modern life.
On we pressed through the lamb field - then up past the Racton Ruin and then right to the top of the Stansted Estate where the RM opted for the 'black run' route. Nothing life threatening and no falls to report.
A bit more up and down and the RM decided that a full ascent of Kingley Vale was beyond the time allowance, so we took the road back to Walderton and the climb over the shoulder of the hill - past the Llama farmer - and then on road through Funtington and the back lane back to the pub at 20:29. Only just needing lights this week.
Food was good. Tent was warm.
Meals for all
T shirts for all that have them (i.e. not Slash or E.Lee)
Table 1 Fracker Electric Lee Faff
Nature highlights - bluebells, big buzzard, piglets, lambs, deer, llamas, hawking and peasants.