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Santa’s Grotto Midhurst (11,10)

Updated: Jan 5

Dear Shabi’s


17th December – Santa’s Grotto Midhurst


Well after the fantastic Gala Awards Dinner 2019 with celebrity special guest Binky Bykeknut giving out the awards, it was decided the first ride of the new season should be a festive extravaganza to get us all “in the mood for Christmas”.


But in time honoured tradition, before we talk about the ride, lets talk about the riders, and this weeks in depth profile is the man who won the

“Award for the most unprepared rider 2019” – yes its Faff Cheeks.

Riders Ready, Pedals Ready, Faff Cheeks Ready?

They say that first impressions can be deceptive, and no more so than with our Faffer. He is a Cantabrigian (Cambridge University Graduate) with a list of qualifications that are difficult to get your head around. To be precise he is a “PhD, Msc, JCB, DipSo, CSE and BAA”. He qualified in “Time and Motion” studies and frankly he is a world leading expert. Now that’s impressive. But this kind of intelligence and stratospheric level of qualification has its “dark side”. Due to his immense intellect he has to approach even the most mundane day to day activities from a “first principles” perspective. So, to take the simple task of getting the bike in the car for a SHABI Tuesday evening ride. This just a small snapshot of his thought process:


1. It’s a bike ride – do I need the bike at all? – regression analysis to decide is the bike required? Conclusion; yes probably, but with a Standard Deviation of 0.1 this might have to be reviewed.


2. So, should I put the bike in the car now or later? So it’s a full on “time a motion study” with SWOT analysis including the use of coloured crayons and a white board. Frackbladder is also an expert in using crayons but nothing else. Conclusion. Putting the bike into the car is on the critical path and therefore it should be done now (or soonish).


3. Which way should the bike be put into the car and should the front wheel be taken off? Full 3D dimensional analysis along a space and time continuum. Full 3D laser guided elemental analysis with full alternative sequencing analysis. Conclusion – assess what else has to go into the car and then review.


4. Go back to point 1 above.



Well if you are still awake that’s good, because frankly this level of intelligence would, on the face of it, disqualify our hero from being part of a cycling group with “idiot” in the title. Happily, for all us idiots, this level of thinking causes his brain to overheat and despite brave attempts using a wig and/or toupee he remains very “follically challenged” (even more than Smashie and he’s as bald a coot). A salutary warning to our Slumpers who has really made this thinking process a thing of his own. You can have too much of a good thing.


….and that’s not the end of the handicaps our Faffer has to overcome. Just imagine the thinking that has to go into how to negotiate around a muddy puddle when there are so many unknown variables. How deep is it? What are the conditions at the bottom of the puddle, soft mud or something firmer? So now imagine you are Faff Cheeks and you are approaching the puddle – he assesses the variables – his brain overheats ….. and then he crashes. Thus it can be seen that despite his incredible intelligence, he behaves outwardly like a complete idiot, and is therefore a treasured member of the SHABI Peleton.



Faffy conducting some puddle depth analysis, conclusion - the puddle was deeper than the analysis on this occasion

So with the in the in depth interview out of the way lets get onto the ride. An excellent turn out with ten riders including: Smashie RM, Chuffy DRM, Genghis, LBD, Big Ring, Dobbie, Slumpy, his carer Tonka, Faff Cheeks, Strangely Brown and new rider Slasher Giles.


Some made a great effort to enter the xmas spirit with Strangely Brown as a very convincing Santa, Faff Cheeks as an elf and Smashie as Dirty Santa (hole in his Santa outfit in a strategically inappropriate location). LBD dished out the mulled wine and minced pies and Genghis supplied 190% proof rum. Tonka put on a light show that made the Oxford Street illuminations seem average. Great effort – Hero points if you got mentioned above. Even the drug dealers came over and wished us Happy Christmas.



So after the mulled wine and rum we set off roughly down Midhurst High Street at some time or other in a blaze of flashing lights and flapping Santa outfits and headed over Iping Common. Chuffy has a fall after unsuccessfully trying to knock Big Ring off his bike-not really in the Christmas spirit by hey ho (drunk in charge of a Bicycle me thinks).


The days rain made the going somewhere between “heavy” and “bog snorkel” and Faffer has a “brain overheat” moment and face plants into the mud for absolutely no good reason at all. His elf costume is ruined – he is distraught. Then onto the free-wheel face off competition and Slumpy is disqualified for pedalling furiously but then goes onto win the race. Note to self – must review rules – how can a rider be disqualified and then go onto win - something not right there - but hey - its never stopped the Russian Olympic team.



Then the visit to Santa’s grotto. FANTASTIC light show with a real Virgin Mary and a singing Father Christmas. The previously consumed rum meant that Slumpy’s carer had to be restrained from committing inappropriate acts with the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. We have to donate money to the Charity to prevent the Police being called.



Then along the roads towards the King Edward Hospital and they could hardly be described as roads with thick mud and deep potholes. Everyone is splattered in mud and Smashie’s Dirty Santa outfit is now bordering on obscene – revealing in all the wrong ways.


We now climb up Woolbedding hill and the hill keeps on giving and giving. The Peleton sober up and its pain and suffering all round.

The Peleton is now a bit spread out and the back markers and the DRM get lost in the “Dogging Carpark” at the top of Woolbedding common. One of the Doggers offer Christmas greetings but Faffer has a bad hangover and makes a “rather short” response.


We gather together and reach the A3409 Plymouth to Belfast trunk road and decide to freewheel down to Midhurst. I am happy to report that everyone managed to get the 30mph speed warning sign to flash so more hero points all round.



We reach the car park, get changed and head for the La Piazetta restaurant in Midhurst where Strangely Brown continues the Santa theme dishing out lots of unsustainable plastic goodies and toys (unlike the cheapskate crackers at the Gala Awards dinner), Great fun trying to get the jumping aliens into Smashie’s pint and kept everyone very amused.


Then a moment of pure SHABI joy. Faffer gets to order first, and goes for a Fiorentina Pizza with an egg on top. The waiter moves on to Strangely Brown. Before SB can say anything, Faffer butts in and asks for Spinach on his Pizza as well. Clearly, he has done a quick regression NPV analysis on the vitamins in his pizza and feels that spinach will make ALL the difference. So impressed are the rest of the Peleton, they all order their meals specifically requesting egg and spinach much to the chagrin if the Maitre d’hotel. We were lucky not to get kicked out.


At the very end a classy looking lady came over and asked about our group and “what does SHABI stand for?” Tonka and Smashie went into “grooming” mode but sadly the lady did a runner. Hmm perhaps we are not approaching the recruitment of the fairer sex the right way. Genghis should advise maybe.


A great meal and great company and hopefully Slasher Giles will be inspired to join us next week.


Merry Christmas + Happy New Year from Smashie X


Scores on the Doors




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