Blog for 28th May 2019 – Hinton Arms – the ride of the Nettles
After much debate and soul searching it was decided by the Lord Points Master to ride out west and so Smashie volunteered to RM from the Hinton Arms near Cheriton, handily located on the A272 Bath to Aberdeen trunk road.
Before we get into the ride, lets take a break from tradition and instead of reporting on the Peleton “en masse”, concentrate on one of our number who has become a legend in his own lunchtime – BIG RING.
Big Ring was born in 1723 to Mr and Mrs Big Ring in Send near Woking. The first settlers in this area were worshippers of Wocc (pagan witchcraft!) and came from Tibet in the early Neolithic age and became part of a tribe known as the Wochingas and it thought that Big Ring owes his ancestry to these early settlers who specialised in selling gas appliances to travellers moving west to the plains of Salisbury.
Indeed, our man moved with his family to Billingshurst at an early age and went to the local school where he excelled in tiddly winks (part of the all-conquering pro-am team winning the Tiddling world cup in 1949). Sadly, his burgeoning academic career was cut short when his Chemistry teacher discovered he had perfected the manufacture of a small thermo-nuclear device and was intent on testing in the Janitors staff room. There was a brief exchange in “ancient Anglo-Saxon” and our hero was expelled.
So what does a man do, having perfected the Nuclear bomb, and being expelled from school? Well it’s obvious! Big Ring started an apprentice to become a tool maker and indeed this is what he has done for the last 127 years.
Some other facts you may not know about Big Ring: he has been married and fathered many children, his favourite colour is blue and he is one of two contenders for the “Bike that’s shite Award 2019” (making a bold attempt to knock Dobbie of his perch). He is also one of those quiet riders who never complains and just gets on with it no matter how bad the circumstances (I am thinking the climb up Cader Idris and Slump’s ride through Mr Ploppy’s field). We salute you Big Ring.
Anyway, I must drag you away from the gripping story that is Big Ring and concentrate on the ride from Hinton Ampner. The riders included; Smashie (RM), Genghis, Chuffy (DRM), C2C7, Slumpy, Tonka, Mick the numbers, Simon the Wheels and of course, the star of this weeks in depth interview, BIG RING.
Chuffy checked out the food and YES, The Hinton Arms is very SHABI friendly on food times so we set off on good order with Smashie at the head and DRM Chuffy at the tail. A lovely bimble to start with through Cheriton next to the stream. We then head up towards Cheese foot head meandering along beautify grassy tracks with the cow parsley waving to us as we went.
Near the top and we enter a field of sheep and Slumpy takes a turn for the insane. He calls to “his girls” that “Daddy’s here to play” and my goodness that provoked a reaction from both Peleton …… and the flock of sheep. The Peleton thought it best to start riding in any direction to get away from the “sheep ♥ Slumpy” situation, as fast as possible. The sheep were completely unfazed by all this, perhaps Slumpy’s dalliance with “other sheep” has resulted in a “cooling of the emotions”. Anyway, we head off at top speed and eventually Slumpy catches us up.
We then head over the downs towards the A31 dual carriageway. Perfect riding conditions being warm and dry with magnificent views over the north Hampshire plains (Big Ring gets a bit misty eyed thinking of his ancestors making their way west with their newly acquired gas appliances).
Over the A31 dual carriageway – always a bit of a dice with death but we don’t loose anybody this time. Then into the woods we go. Prior to the ride the Lord Points Master advises the wearing of nettle protection and indeed the nettles are young and vigorous stinging any part of naked flesh exposed. Nevertheless, charming single-track riding in the sun dappled forest.
We emerge into the field of “death by bovine” – the SHABI’s are regularly chased across this field by a herd of aggressive Jersey cows. So in a break from tradition (ie leaving the last man to take his chances – usually Daisy), we gather together and sprint across the field in a well formed peleton that would shame the Tour De France with its discipline and skill. We make it and the cows don’t even realise – triumph (its the little things that keep the RM happy).
Then on through more single-track forest and more nettles and brambles with a great bit of “downhill” (it wasn’t very down but it was fast). Its here that Mick the numbers takes a tumble making a hash of some ruts in the trail – no damage done.
Next a bit of road work on the outskirts of Alresford and along the A31 towards the Golf course.
A large bird poops on C2C7 – he threatens arrest and a thorough Tazering but English Nature says you need a Licence to do this now. They spoil all the fun.
Up till point everything has been running like clockwork. The RM leading and the DRM shouting to “GO!” when the back markers caught up. Great progress until now…
It would seem that the two back markers in question, C2C7 and Chuffy, both being Senior Law Enforcement Operatives were deep in conversation about the visit of an important dignitary. I can’t mention him by name but he is trying to make America great again – we will call him Gump – no-one will ever guess. Anyway to make sure our honoured guest has every possible whim catered for, our Chuffy, being an expert in Burgers, has been assigned the prized job of Gump’s own personal burger flipper. The Hampshire force a have requisitioned a suitable mobile catering establishment (confiscated from some Albanians who have just given most of Cosham food poisoning) and will be towing said establishment behind the Presidential motorcade ready to provide sustenance to his Presidency and their entourage at a moment’s notice. Clearly C2C7 is pretty pissed of that Chuffy has landed this plumb job and was trying to get a job as his assistant….
So when the RM chose to deviate from the usual route to take in some excellent local single-track, the DRM missed the departure from normal and went off across the golf course. Minutes passed and calls were made. After about ten minutes the DRM called in only to be informed of his error. So, while the remaining peleton entertained themselves getting “really big air” over some jumps, Chuffy and C2C7 had to retrace their steps
On their return there was a brief exchange of Anglo-Saxon pleasantries and the Lord Points Master will make some adjudications in due course as we are a rules based organisation ie The Lord Points Master makes up the rules and we have to obey.
So finally we did some more excellent single track and then headed for home on the Oxdrove tracks.
It was decided to lengthen the ride a tad and we head over the downs to the south of the A272 and then back past the Hinton Ampner Mansion to the source of the River Test.
Genghis suffers a minor mechanical and Chuffy makes amends for his previous misdemeanours, by keeping Genghis company and diagnosing “terminally loose lower Jockey wheel syndrome” – Hmm I wonder if there is a cream for that - it sounds painful – I am sure Slumpy will recommend something.
Back at the pub we enjoy excellent food and we decide that some new nicknames are in order.
From now on Mick the Numbers is to be known as Nurse Brown and Simon the Wheels as Mr Perfect (there was general disgust at the lack of suitably demeaning material to think of anything better … for now)
Scores on the doors.
I LOVE YOU ALL