2004 RIDE REPORTS

"XMAS PUB CRAWL" MONDAY 27th DECEMBER

Length: 7 pubs "The Crown", "Three Tuns", "The Carpenters Arms", "The Lamb", "The Fishermans Haunt", "The Woolpack", "Avon Causeway",

Drinks:  Allsorts

Fun: Much!

"NO MEN IN NOMANSLAND"  SUNDAY 19th DECEMBER

Length: 19 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Outdoor Leisure OL22: New Forest  or  Landranger 184: Salisbury & the Plain, Amesbury

Riders: 11! Gilbey, Graham Rendell, Dave M, Mrs M ,"Sutts", "Loggo", Richard “Max Wall” Gears, “Whisky” Mike, John the tri-athlete, Dave Simon, Andy Willcocks

Weather: Cold with bright sunny spells.

Minimum Height:  44 metres (Ogdens Farm).

Maximum Height:  123 metres (Longcross Plain).

Height ascended:  458 metres 

11 brave souls (including new "wobblies" member Mike Whisken) massed at the Lamb at Nomansland after a foul night of rain and wind had done its best to deter them from embarking on the last wobblies ride of the year (xmas doesn’t count – that’s just a pub crawl on wheels!). There were several slighty weaker souls who were notable by their absence having proclaimed commitment to the cause all week. No names but shame on you all!   It’s often the way that if you take the chance and confront the weather it backs down (Lulworth excepted) and this was certainly the case today. By the time late arrival Richard Gears had found Nomansland and the obligatory starting group photo had been taken the sun was already peeking through. Unusually this ride started with a wind chilling road descent out the back of The Lamb and then stayed on road for a couple of miles towards Hamptworth Lodge. Cries for Pink Lycra were ignored as we finally turned off-road into Loosehanger Copse. Here’s where the fun starts. The tracks were quite ridged and the torrential rain had filled the grooves with water, this was on top of the 12” mud that we had discovered the previous week on the recce ride. Of course if you didn’t do the recce ride you didn’t know what was there so Richard, keen to take on the conditions, was subtly encouraged to the front of the pack and  tried to blast straight through it only to bury his bike, feet and legs in ice cold muck and water much to the amusement of everyone else ( a note here to say that wobbly wheelers are honorable fellows and anyone who thinks Richard was “set up” is absolutely right!). The following “technical” section was tackled with aplomb by all riders now keen not to follow Richards example this early on in what was always going to be a chilly ride. Richard on the other hand was already soaking wet so he ploughed through everything he could find and in true Dr Gears fashion got wetter and muddier in the first five miles than everyone else did on the entire loop.

Mr & Mrs Camelback join the ride........

A short road blast to shake the mud off towards Bohemia (honest) and then back along the B3080 as far as Golden Cross car park. This was a section the wobblies had visited previously and the talk was already starting of the “deadman hill” challenge that Gilbey had thrown down . A brief pause for some “romantic” shots of Dave and the very brave Mrs M who had been persuaded (nagged into submission) by Dave into joining us for the ride. Talk of a tandem and a twin tube camelback was soon dismissed by Mrs M who when asked if she would be out on the January ride without hesitation said “NO!”.

The group then charged downhill to Millersford Bottom to cross over the ford that is usually about 2” deep. Torrential rain for 24 hours previously had taken its toll and the ford was now about 20” deep and 20ft wide. Richard and Gilbey trail blazed (aquaplaned) their way through it but I was sure there was a better opportunity along the banks of the stream. Seeing an opportunity to keep dry feet for a little longer tempted Karen , Andy, and Loggo along also. It soon became obvious that the “easy” option was in reality not easy at all as the stream at its narrowest was about 5ft wide. We eventually gave up looking and attempted to cross using a tree to scramble across and passed the bikes over. This was fine as Andy passed my bike over, then his, then Loggo’s all without incident. On attempting to pass Karen’s he must have been tiring because as he thrust it forward for me to grab it slipped out of his hands and disappeared completely underwater. Karen looked a little bit concerned so once we had all stopped laughing Andy reached in and plucked the now gleaming machine from its watery grave! No harm done except that most of the bearings were now full of natures finest rather than grease. Still that should keep Mr M (AKA “the maintenance nazi”) happy for hours stripping and rebuilding it. Karen and Loggo then scrambled across the stream and we pressed on towards “Deadman Hill"

                            

The other group were now happily lined up in the glorious sunshine taunting and waiting to ridicule our attempts. Only successful climber of the day so far, Gilbey! I managed to conquer the hill but was judged as a “fail” as I had to take a slight deviation off the track and through several small gorse bushes. The other attempts were equally unsuccessful so we will have to return another day. The weather was now blue sky and sunshine and we pressed on through Pitts Wood enclosure and joined the Fritham to Frogham cycle track along Hampton ridge. This is quite a fast section and large puddles covered the track intermittently. I thought it might be fun to “persuade” someone to test the depth of these puddles, so as we approached a small lagoon, I levelled up alongside Andy to restrict his choice of lines around it. What I didn’t bank on was his ruthless streak (presumably from his motocross days) and rather than hold his line through the water he swerved across me and drove me straight into a large gorse bush. Handlebars clashed but fortunately both riders stayed on. At this moment Sutts suddenly shouted “coming through” and proceeded to pedal flat out as if his life depended on it. Sutts on the charge is a fearsome sight indeed and inevitably Richard and others took up the challenge and very soon there was a race on along the ridge and down the hill to Abbots Well. Great fun! At the bottom was a small bank and Loggo attempted to roll this at speed. Mountain bikes are pretty tough but Loggos reputation struck again as the seat rail gave way with a loud “Crack!”. Subsequent attempts to fix it resulted in a lot of fuss with no real improvement which probably explains why he was walking funny after the ride! 

 

Graham decides he's had enough on "Deadman Hill"

Following a short descent down to the bridge across Latchmore Brook it became obvious that everyone was going to have wet feet to get across this one. Following Gilbeys lead Andy Willcocks clipped into his SpuDs and pedaled off into the water, then he stopped and fell sideways straight into it accompanied by a crescendo of cheers! (Remember Andy – twist to release). At this point everyone decided to bite the bullet and wade through rather than risk a repeat of the Willcocks experience. Through Hasley enclosure and on to Slodden enclosure where a herd of about 40 deer were sighted nervously deciding whether to take on the wobblies headed their way or a group of walkers further to the North. In the end they panicked , charged into the enclosure and one leapt about 6ft in front of Karen and Dave prompting a squeal from Dave and a reassuring “don’t worry my Love , I’ll look after you” from Karen.

John the Tri-athlete had been quietly enjoying his brand new Cube which he had purchased following his record 8 falls on his old school marin on the previous ride. “ My forks seem a bit hard” he said until someone pointed out that he had the damping set to the lockout position. A quick twist of the lever and his smile returned. Nice bike mate!    We carried on to Fritham and by this time everyone was feeling the cold particularly Andy after his Icy bath. Down the hill to the lake at Irons well where some very large pigs were free grazing in the forest. With Bacon sandwiches on everyone’s mind we pressed on to the road where the wind had got up and made for a grueling final slog (unless you were tucked in behind Sutts) until the final sweepy curves down the road descent back into Nomansland.

I’m not quite sure quite what it was that made this ride so enjoyable but judging by the constantly smiling faces of all participants despite being cold wet and muddy I reckon this was one of the most “fun” rides of the year. We were greeted in The Lamb by a very enthusiastic Landlord and once the beers were in The Acorn of Achievement was unanimously awarded to Karen (Aka “Mrs M”) who despite the cold and wet had cheerfully completed the 18mile loop. To those of you who were deterred by Saturdays weather I have one thing to say – She’s more of a man than you are!

Graham R

WIMBORNE ST GILES "BULL RUN"  SUNDAY 21st NOVEMBER

OS Landranger maps:  Explorer 118: Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase or  Landranger 195:  Bournemouth & Purbeck, Wimborne Minster & Ringwood

Length: 20.72 miles

Riders: 9  Gilbey, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, John "the Triathalete", Richard Gears, Roy George, Martin Sissons, Paul "All the Gear" Cox, Dave Simon.

Terrain: Open rolling countryside, downland, chalky, slippery tracks, claggy mud and a bit of road to finish!!. 

Weather: Misty but mild, early drizzly mist, brightening later.

Minimum Height:  39 metres (Moor Crichel).

Maximum Height:  113 metres (Woodcutts).

Height ascended:  377 metres 

Punctures: 4 (Graham Rendell, Roy George, Paul Cox, Richard Gears).

Falls: 8 (all by John the Triathlete")

After the foul relentless, sleet & rain the day before, there were a suprising nine riders who turned up at the "Bull" in Wimborne St Giles for the 9.10 start. This was after a passing old lady was asked to snap the happy group. "Oh no, I can't use one of those camera things". Anyway after a quick lesson, a grand snap was taken by old "Granny Pascoe". Shortly before the photo, Richard Gears had managed to fall over in the car-park, in true "revenge of the SPD's" style. Reckoned he'd oiled the pedals the night before to ease release!  A new rider, John joined us on his Marin. We set off on the muddy farm track from All Hallows farm climbing up onto Harley Down (SU 002 135), passing the gravestone of John Ironmonger (1919-1986) buried beside the bridleway at Harley Gap. Passed the trig point on Gussage Hill (117m) and kept on the Jubilee Trail until Woodcutts. From Woodcutts, the highest point on the ride there was a great tree lined piece of singletrack along Straight Lane down to Minchington (ST 968 146), a village where flooding is common. From here it was a slog across some muddy fields to Chettle, where Graham Rendell had the first flat of the day, caused by an enormous hawthorn. Gave all of the group the chance of a breather, especially by new rider John "the Triathlete", who was finding the slog up the hills on a bike, different to the running he's used to, as different muscle groups were being used. Plus his riding style was hampered somewhat by the fact that his front tyre was smoother than the Red Bellied Smooth snake of Arizona, and so progress along the slippery & muddy paths and tracks, was somewhat wobbly. This was born out by the fact that by the time John had completed the ride, he had managed to fall off 8 times! Superb effort John! Reckon that is nearly a "Wobblies" record on a single ride. 

                                                 

Paul "all the Gear" Cox had a puncture outside the gates to the rather grand Chettle House, which looked like more of a mansion than a house. The local church bell ringer seemed a bit stuck for tunes as the church seemed to have only two bells in the tower, leading to a rather boring ding, dong, ding, dong tune which stuck in the mind! Paul tried to prolong the agony  by mis-seating the tyre bead on the Whyte  leading to a delay, so more bell ringing. Then a run along a muddy farm  track to meet the A354 Blandford-Salisbury road. Crossed over and then got slightly lost. Reckon we missed the BW which went off to the right just after Turnpike Cottage (ST 947 114). We carried on around the edge of a very muddy field, picking up lots of "mud in the tyres" on the way. Paul "All the gear" Cox then had a problem, when the heavy mud caused his rear mech to get thrown into the wheel of the Whyte. Graham and John "the triathlete" tried to find a route across the fields, but then we all agreed to head back to the road and pick up some farm tracks across Crichel Down to Manswood. A few hairy moments as everyone negotiated a barbed wire fence to exit the field. One slip could be fatal...!!

Errrrrrrr!!!!!....who's a mucky boy then?

Graham Seage had a flat, so more waiting, inches from the fast moving traffic on the A354. Saw 8 deer running across the fields on Crichel Down,  then we passed an enormous pig farm, complete with groups of piglets (all together now, Aaaah!). Roy had a flat  by the pigs, which gave the others a chance to "pig bond". We decided at this point to head for Wimborne St Giles by the quickest route (road) as some of the  riders were beginning to show concerns about getting to the "Bull" before closing. A sensible decision was taken and  a dash along the tracks, passing Horse Coppice and Strawberry Coppice exiting onto the tarmac opposite Oakhills Coppice (ST 977 085), then  through Manswood, Primrose Hill, and Moor Crichel to Wimborne St Giles. Richard Gears stopped off at Ton Bridge outside Gussage All Saints to wash himself off in the river, as he was particularly muddy.  However Mr Sissons had a great mud patch up his arse and back to complement Richard's effort. A welcome change outside the "Bull" into clean, dry clothes, then into the pub for some pints of "Phestive Pheasant" (sic). Superb!!  Better as a summer ride this one!! 

"STICKLAND REVISITED"  SUNDAY 17th OCTOBER

 OS Landranger maps: OS Map Explorer 117  Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis

Riders: 4!!! Graham Rendell, Phil Dade (ride guide) ,"Sutts", Roy "Loggo" George.

Weather: Glorious Sunshine.

4 riders met at "The Crown" in Winterbourne Stickland for a 9;00 am start and set off 09:15. Kevin Lane arrived at The Crown at 09:30 and went home again (strange lad?). First problem of the day manifested itself as the group headed down the jubilee trail. Just entering charity wood Phil got a flat. A quick fix and we were soon off again until at the bottom of the hill I heard “what the bl**dy hell’s that”. Closer inspection revealed that Mr Dade had in fact worn through his rear rim and it had burst. Amazingly the tube and tyre were still intact so after disconnecting the rear v-brake to allow the split rim to pass through Phil carefully climbed up to the road. Not to be put off by this he gave us directions for the next section, lowered the tyre pressure to 15psi and wobbled off home to Turnworth  with the promise of returning on a reverse loop of the trail to meet up with us once he had fitted another wheel.

The next section is familiar wobblys territory, the dreaded climb up through the woods at heath bottom. After passing some rather nervous looking horses at Higher Houghton Farm the climbing started. The mud made going even harder and just as we passed into the woods I heard Sutts shout out “Flat”. We all stopped but no sign of "Sutts". A few minutes later he pushed into view and it became obvious he had not shouted “flat” but “F**k” and with good cause. The rear mech had seized in the mud and decided to throw itself into the rear wheel rather than carry on. After much digging with sticks and rebending of the hanger we eventually found a lump of flint jamming the jockey wheel and causing the wrapped rear mech. "Sutts" was visibly shaken at the prospect of his beloved GT in pain but kicked it straight and carried on anyway.   A short road blast to clear the mud from tyres was welcome and then down past the wood yard towards Bulbarrow Farm. This section right through to Milton Abbey was probably the best of the day. A steady descent Across fields to start then into some tight singletrack, slippery chalk descents and rooty switchback trails prompting comments about Coed y Brenin and the like (must have been good!). As we exited the woods we were presented with a magnificent view of Milton Abbey school in blazing sunshine…….lovely. Plenty of time to take in the view as well because I had just picked up a pinch flat. A quick fix and we were off again heading through the woods towards Hilton when Phil re-appeared with shiny new wheel in place. How keen is that?

A muddy drag across the fields to Manor farm left "Sutts" tyres twice there normal size as for some reason his tyres seemed to be very good at collecting mud but not so good at shedding it. From here the climb up to the top of Bulbarrow  Hill was hard graft. Only one to clean this section was Phil (surprise surprise). Sutts was beaten by his ever expanding tyres, I developed chainsuck and "Loggo" just thought it was a shame to spoil a nice walk by riding.

All 3 of us attracted comments from the 2 locals (yokels) who were out rabbiting with a jack russel along the lines of “ here’s another one that didn’t make the grade!”. From Bulbarrow we took the road to Iberton hill and then the off road track to Bell Hill enjoying the sun and the views. Once we hit the road "Sutts" and "Loggo" decided they had seen enough mud for one day and set off down the road back to the Crown. Me and Phil carried on through the forest above Durweston . I get a bit hazy about the directions at this point but suffice to say there was an excellent firetrack descent through the woods . I think we passed through Shepherds corner farm and back through field Grove woods which was a lot more pleasant going down than the usual drag up on the previous rides we’ve done in this area. We also missed that horrible climb up the fields out of Durweston that we usually end up riding out there. A final fast road descent tested muddy brakes to the limit back into Stickland then into the Crown just in time for a welcome refreshing pint or two. Thanks to Phil for the route………apparently he’s planning a series of Stickland loops which when linked together form 100 mile Killer route. Could be perfect practice for “South Downs in a day 2005”!!!

"SOUTH DOWNS WAY"   SATURDAY-SUNDAY 25-26th SEPTEMBER

OS Landranger maps: South Downs Way   

Length: 103 miles, 63 first day, 40 the second day

Riders: 8, Dave Mullard, Andy Willcocks, Gilbey, “Sutts”, Graham Rendell, Richard Gears, Paul Moses, Dave Elliston.

Support driver: Dave Simon

Terrain: Open rolling countryside, downland, chalky, slippery tracks, rutted sections, open farmland. 

Weather: Glorious sunrise Saturday, which then went cloudy followed by an hour or so of heavy rain, then overcast. Sunday was a sunny start, misty, developing into a lovely day, with a tailwind both days.

Minimum Height: 0 metres (Bridge crossing river, Amberley)

Maximum Height: 248 metres (Butser Hill, just before Queen Elizabeth Country park)

Height ascended: 3885 metres (yes really!)

Punctures: Too many!

DAY 1 (12 hours, Winchester-Truleigh Hill YHA)

Rise and shine boys........06.15am, Winchester

This was to be the mother of all "Wobblies" rides and as such we had all prepared mentally and physically for it (not!). Unfortunately this necessitated an early start from underneath King Alfred's statue in Winchester High Street. Graham, Dave Elliston and Paul had decided to stay overnight at the Youth Hostel in Winchester and meet up with the rest of us at 6.00am. This meant an early set off from Bournemouth for the rest of us with Dave Simon kindly offering, for small financial gain, to drive us up to Winchester, drop us off and then drive to Eastbourne on the Sunday to collect us. A 04.30 start saw Andy and Gilbey picked up at the Cooper Dean flyover, and Sutts picked up in Ringwood on the way through. Richard was dropped off in Winchester, so we all assembled for a pre start photo. We set off at 06.15 and immediately missed the correct turn, so we took alternative routes picking up the trail near Chilcomb. The sun was beginning to surface as we climbed Telegraph Hill, and so as not to miss it, Richard had the first puncture of the ride at Keepers Cottage some 40 minutes after the start. Our 4 Walkie talkies started failing shortly after the group set off again as Dave Mullard had decided on a bargain 12 pack for £0.000050p or similar, so the 4 walkie talkies were dead weight from now on!! Well done cheapskate!!!!

                          

                                                                                Sssssssssss......                                                        Rollin, rollin, rollin

The first real climb of the day, 110 metres on road up to Old Winchester Hill got the lungs working well. At the top the group started on the rations already, I did see some of Mr Mullards "Wobbly Bars" being woofed down by one or two of the group. No time for long stops on this ride, had to get to Truleigh Hill before dusk. Great descent from here to Whitewool Farm (SU653213), then another "witch" of a climb up a narrow wooded track up to Salt Hill (233m). Shortly afterwards we passed the disused Royal Navy training establishment, H.M.S. Mercury used to train radio operators in the navy. It was moved to this rural location during WW2 as it was originally locatedd next to H.M.S.Victory in Portsmouth dockyard, so to avoid the heavy bombing, it was moved up into the hills. 

                                                   

      "You go first...no, no, you go first"                                             Easy life.........                                                       ......well, not sooo easy?

We pressed on towards the breakfast stop at the cafe in Queen Elizabeth country park, all talk now of beans on toast, poached eggs, bacon butties.....then Andy noticed that one of the main suspension bushes on his GT had worked loose, luckily he spotted it before it dropped out, so it was tightened before the glorious grassy descent across Hillhampton Down to the A3, which we passed under and rolled up to the cafe/visitors centre. However, the brekkie dream was shattered when it was realised the cafe didn't open till 10! We were an hour early, so more malt loaf, "wobbly bars", Mars bars etc. We then decided on an early lunch, at Cocking so pressed on. Graham then had a puncture so this was beginning to set the trend for the rest of the day. All the small stops soon add up the wasted time on an all day ride, so we all elected to fix any tubes at the next stops, minimising delays. 35 minutes later Graham stopped again to fix his rear tyre at Tower Hill. Some pressed on towards Harting Downs to wait. Glorious views were now regularly seen as the ridge was high here.  Beacon Hill at 242m proved too steep to ride up, so everyone reverted to pushing and carrying bikes to the top. Andy was the next to suffer a flat at Penn Hill. We were all beginning to get rumble bellies so turned off the South Downs Way into the village of Cocking arriving at the Blue Bell pub at 11.45. A great scram menu resulted in bangers and mash, ham egg and chips, steak & kidney puddings, all washed down by Stellas and beer. Leaving the pub just before 1pm, Dave Elliston suffered a puncture on Heyshott Down, just before we climbed another narrow wooded track 144 metres up to the South Downs Way again. All ended up pushing as the food and beer hadn't settled yet. 

                                          

Graffam Down, Burton Down and Bignor Hill provided some undulating riding, Dave Mullard managing a sliding fall descending off Burton Down.  Light spots of rain soon turned into a heavy continuous downpour so jackets were donned, for the descent towards Amberley. Gilbey and Dave Elliston suffered flats on the flint riddled track coming off Bignor Hill (225m). As it was raining heavily now, flats were not welcomed at this stage of the ride, as people were getting a bit wet and cold. Shades of a "Lulworth" perhaps.....? Andy took a tumble off a dual track and was a bit shaken, however this was just a warm up for what was to come a few minutes later. Descending off Westburton Hill (TQ 002119) towards the busy A29, Andy hit a wet section of chalky track and slid off, managing to get cut by the flints embedded in the track. Early appearances looked worse than it was. He was groaning and not moving much, when the rest of the group caught up. Blood was oozing from his hands, side, and there was a nasty gash on his right arm. Dr Gears was straight to the rescue, well actually he was the only one with a first aid kit, so gloves on, plasters, cotton wool, bandages, all were applied in the pouring rain to the patient. Richard did a great job patching up Andy, and then Andy decided to press on with the remaining 20 miles or so. His front brake was out of action due to a busted noodle in the crash, but I think the new Gill jacket that he had bought the week before, to do the ride in, came off worse, being well ripped in places. The jacket looked like Freddy Kruger had done 10 rounds with it. 

            

"Ow,ow it hurts, Dr Gears"

The chalky descent into Amberley was taken slow and cautiously as no one wanted to recreate Andy's fall again on the slippery tracks. Map reading skills were not so good here, as 6 of the 8 went slightly the wrong way, but all regrouped on Amberley Mount. Luckily here the rain eased, giving everyone the chance for a bite to eat, and a general sort out of gear. From Rackham Hill (193m) to Washington village was quite flat with a good descent to the footbridge crossing the busy A24. A 178m climb from the village to Chanctonbury Ring hill fort (TQ 139120) was a toughie, one walker actually overtaking some of the hardy souls pedalling up Frieslands!! 

The end of the first days riding was now in sight with some great downhill riding from Steyning Round Hill & Annington Hill to the River Adur crossing at the strangely named village of Boltophs. All that remained now was Beeding Hill (or should that be Bleedin' Hill!) and a 188m slog on single track then tarmac up to home for the night Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel (TQ 220105) which we reached at 18.30 some 12 hours after setting off from Winchester. Some of the lads thought they still had about 5 miles to ride so the YHA when it loomed into view was most welcome. Bikes were stored in the garage, hot showers taken, change into dry clothes, wet clothes hung in the drying room overnight, then 2 taxis summoned (after some difficulty with lack of taxis and mobile phone reception), to take us into nearby Shoreham, 4 miles away, for some well earned beer and some hot food. All riders were turned in by 11pm!!

DAY 2 (8 hours, Truleigh Hill YHA-Eastbourne railway station)

Everyone out of their "pits" at 06.10 lent itself to an early start. However, the proposed early start suggested by Mr Mullard "flew out of the window", as by the time Gilbey had fixed a puncture with one of Mr Mullards "bargain" inner tubes, which turned out to have a hole and split pre-manufactured into it, and Andy had also fixed a flat, the group finally hit the trail about 07.15, riding directly into the rising sun. A complete change to the weather today, fingers crossed? Tired limbs were soon warmed up, thanks due to a few climbs including Edburton Hill, Perching Hilland before reaching Fulking Down. 

       

Down Fulking Hill, then passing Devils Dyke (TQ 263108), complete with loads of kamakazi sheep who decided to run across in front of the bikes as they approached. Crossed over the A23 at Pyecombe, then a climb across Pyecombe golf course, before a photo stop at "Jack" & "Jill" the Clayton windmills. Graham said that his sister Denise would meet us at Black Cap with bacon rolls and tea and coffee. The group immediately seemed to get some extra "zing" in the speed of the climbs. However a phone call to Denise when we reached Ditchling Beacon (248m) meant that she would rendezvous with us at Falmer, near Lewes where the South Downs Way crossed the A27. Graham suffered a flat at Black Cap, hampering the progress slightly, Gilbey also suffering a slow puncture since Ditchling Beacon, however bacon was on the air, so a great descent from the Downs from Black Cap (206m) across Balmer Down helped the group, images of bacon butties in more than one mind I reckon. Only fly in the ointment was a steep push up through Bunkershill Plantation, which Graham actually rode, the only one to do so out of eight riders! Well done mate. 

A great sight greeted the riders at the road brdge over the A27 at Housedean Farm. Waiting, with the tailgate open was Graham's sister Denise and her friend Barbara, ready to dispence hot bacon rolls AND flasks of coffee and tea. This for me was one of the highlights of the days riding so far. Gilbey took the chance to fix the slow puncture, luckily he had finished eating the bacon roll before he attacked the cow pooh covered rear tyre. After a 20 minute brekkie stop, it was time to say a big thanks to Denise and Barbara for providing us with a boost, so we headed off for the climb up onto Castle Hill (140m). Again a hard, drawn out slog, with bacon filled bellies!!

             

                                                                                  Brekkie at the lay-by......followed by the work-off!

Dropped down along a fast, concrete path from Iford Hill to Southease (TQ 422053) to cross the River Ouse. Slight trouble crossing the railway line, until two female joggers just pushed open a metal gate, none of the riders had noticed till then, being more concerned with pressing green buttons, phoning the signalman on the railway telephone...calling the A-Team,...... Thunderbirds....Females eh!!!!

Itford Hill was a good slog up to the radio mast on Beddingham Hill (190m) then onto Firle Beacon, but not before a couple biking had one of the bikes rear brakes totally overhauled/buggered up/repaired, by Dave Mullard, Dave Elliston, Graham, Andy....think we all had a go. Anyway success was eventually reached and they set off thanking the "Wobblies". A sponsored horse ride was taking place, some lovely specimens riding past (nah, not horses, riders, particularly Nos.169, 59, 38 (nice tight white jodhpurs!!). When asked how far where they riding one "Pippa" type replied "12 miles". When she asked us how far we were riding and we replied "103 miles", she shut up a bit quick....don't think she believed us though!! Whilst regrouping on top of Furle Beacon, Graham saw a girl fall off her horse. We all sprinted off towards her to see what we could do, all we succeeded in doing was spooking the horse even more! We then had a fast descent down into the very picturesque village of Alfriston, complete with some great looking traditional pubs....however we were on a mission now to get top the end, so carried on crossing the Cuckmere River by a narrow wooden bridge. What awaited us on the next climb was not welcomed....First a narrow steep, wooded track up from the river, then out onto open country for the long chalky track climb up to Windover Hill (184m). Most of us were getting low on water by this point, having forgotten to refill the Camelbacks in Alfriston. After we had regrouped and stretched out in the sun for a few minutes resting, we pressed on, going slightly off course at the junction of bridleways at Tenantry Ground. Dave Mullard carried on despite the whole group (very quietly!) calling for him to stop and come back up the slope. He did turn around to see the rest of the group riding back up to the correct track. Doh! Down through a steep, wooded section to Jevington village, the birthplace of Banoffi Pie of all things!

One more big 190 metre slog up to Willingdon Hill (TQ 576009),and from then on to Beachy Head, just outside Eastbourne, was flat (ish!). Coastguard & police helicopters, doctors cars, fire engines and paramedics greeted us on arrival at Beachy Head at 14.30. A car driven by a woman had gone over the edge an hour before we arrived and become wedged 85ft down the cliff face. Lucky or what! The fireman were in the process of recovering her and the car. She walked to the ambulance apparently....

                                                                         

                       "Which way now?"...                                                                                                              Beachy Head...."Sutts, Don't lean back"

After a group photo call, we decided to head for Eastbourne, Andy Willcocks, having grown up there, knew of a good shortcut, actually a footpath, but, hey, special occasion, so we all raced down the steep grassy path, joining onto Eastbourne seafront, Andy making a particularly hairy descent considering that he only had a back brake. The folks sipping afternoon teas in the cafe at the bottom of the steep hill looked on in awe as Mr Willcocks approached at speed slipping and skidding his way down. From there we rode along past the traditional sea frontage of Eastbourne, past the pier, through the crowded shopping precinct, to the railway station, where we had arranged the rendezvous with Dave Simon, to collect us. However, bad news, he was to be 30 minutes later than planned. Damm....what to do now....ah a "sports" bar right outside the station. Well we could have a beer!!!! Dave M and Gilbey were despatched to the bar. "Eight Stellas please"...."Blimey, you two must be thirsty..!"  The was a slight "Ice Cold in Alex" moment played out with 7 thirsty riders, drooling over 8 pints of Stella, whilst Dave Elliston nipped off to get his train ticket. After what seemed an eternity, he returned and we cheered each other and downed the cold lagers. Another one followed for some, whilst others elected to load up the bikes when Dave Simon turned up. Paul's wife turned up with some cans of Stella, so they were distributed, opened & drunk. Ta!

               

               "Ice Cold in Alex (Eastbourne?)"......

Pulling away from the station after hitching up Graham's trailer, we saw Richard walking out of the station entrance. Nothing strange about that, until we realised that he was meant to be in the "Mystery Machine" with us....we'd only forgotten about him and piled his seat up in the van with all the bags etc...Sorry Mate!!!! Stella was attacking the memory cells already...Quick stop to pick up Richard & some fish & chips for the journey, then homeward bound. The end of an epic, anyone fancy doing it in one day next summer......thought not!

"BASHING THE BISHOPSTONE RUN"   SUNDAY 19th SEPTEMBER

OS Landranger map No.184     Salisbury & The Plain   

Length: 18 miles, should have been 28!!

Riders, 9 to start, 8 finished: Dave Mullard, Andy Willcocks, Roy “Loggo” George, Gilbey, “Sutts”, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Dave Simon, Richard Gears.

Terrain: Open rolling countryside. 

Weather: Sunny spells/overcast

Minimum Height: 58 metres (Coombe Bissett)

Maximum Height: 173 metres (Tumulus on Faulston Down)

Height ascended: 444 metres

Everyone met a 9a.m. at “The White Hart” in Bishopstone near Salisbury, and after the usual greetings, the group of 8 set off south towards Faulston Down. Before long, an ominous clanging was heard from Gilbey’s trusty steed – the cheapskate had put a new chain on a knackered cassette – result: major chain slip. While all the bike techies clustered round with words of advice, Loggo’s eye was caught by a tempting rope swing hung from a tree atop the banks of the track. Our musings were interrupted by a “twang” followed rapidly by a deep thud. Everyone turned round to discover Loggo sitting at the bottom of the bank holding a broken stick with a snapped piece of rope attached to it. Gales of laughter followed as Loggo got up gingerly rubbing his backside.Unfortunately, Gilbey could not continue so headed back to the Pub. The group followed on to the next gate where we were greeted by a rather over friendly cock-pheasant who caused yet more amusement by chasing Dave Mullard up the next field and over the horizon, before turning his attention to the rest of the pack.

"Whose a banana?"....

A muddy track to Faulston Down Farm was followed by a superb green lane  down to the road. The lane was deeply rutted, full of swooping hollows and covered with tree roots – excellent! A short stretch of road led to a fast turn onto the byeway crossing Coombe Bisset Down. This was followed by a fast descent into Coombe Bisset. Soon the Wobblies were climbing steadily out of Coombe Bisset and up onto Homington Down along bumpy and rutted field tracks. This ended in another superb stretch of wooded track at Great Yews where the combination of slippy mud, deep puddles, roots and tricky hollows and ruts gave everyone a grin when they emerged, blinking, into the sunlight. Some reasonably fast track work along Grim’s Ditch lead to the road, which descended very fast to Cranway Farm. The Wobblies now had to pay for the fast descent by grinding up two tracks to meet the road at Jervoise Farm. At this point, Loggo’s pedal decided to fall apart (“maintenance” – I hear you say?) and he started having gear trouble.

                   

"Worzel Gummage" and Pinocchio (check out those legs!) seen on the Downs.......

After a quick re-group we headed for Stratford Tony along a wide but very rubbly farm track which lead into 4X4 territory. This track ended in another great downhill track section into Stratford Tony. Coming out of Stratford Tony, there was a long slog uphill on the road until we reached the racecourse at Hare Warren where a surfaced but badly potholed Byeway led to the road at Windwhistle. The bridleway back to Bishopstone was joined here and after a short climb up field tracks it turned first into a fast overgrown singletrack, which was quite tricky to keep upright on, followed by a Very fast descent on a concrete track back into Bishopstone. At the bottom of this track, four people had got punctures (Graham Rendell had 8 thorns in one tyre). It was here that a shameful slippage of motivation occurred. After a brief show of hands, the Wobblies decided not to do the second 10 mile loop, but instead slinked like curs into the Pub for a well earned (or not so well earned!) pint!

KNITSON JAM JARS SUNDAY 15 AUGUST 2004

OS Outdoor Leisure map No 15  Purbeck & South Dorset map (Purbeck sheet)

Length: 22 Miles (plus some extra miles for Rendell, Gilbey & Mullard who cycled from home to Worth Matravers for the start and then back home again after)

Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks). 

6 Riders to start, 5  finished

Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Pete Friend, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Martin Sissons, Chris “Sutts” Sutton, 

Weather:  Light rain, very misty on the ridges, with grey skies.  

Min Height: 15 metres (path beside Corfe Castle)

Max Height: 204 metres (Swire Head)

Height Ascended: 973 metres

Graham, Gilbey and Dave arrived about 10 minutes late after cycling from the Sandbanks ferry, over Nine Barrow Down, down past Knitson Farm then up by road through Langton Matravers.  Waiting at the Worth Matravers car park (97047706) were "Sutts", Martin and a new rider, Pete Friend, who had popped into "Horswills Cycles" in Bournemouth, and had seen the "Wobblies" poster. The staff had said to Pete that "the Wobblies were not as serious as the Dorset Rough Riders" so he thought he'd try us out!!  We set off in light rain, by road to the Kingston-Swanage road, TL then TR onto a steep, rocky (& slippery) farm track BW to Afflington Farm. Pete got caught out on this fast descent, made slippery by the rain, and came a cropper. Martin had a flat here, so gave Pete a chance to check out his bike, whilst Martin fixed his flat. Then we set off across Corfe Common and TL on meeting the tarmac road towards Blashenwell Farm (SY 950802). Dave was leading the group, however this was to be his mistake, as rounding a bend in the road, he slid on some cow shit in the road, and was off the bike, sliding, quicker than you can say "cover me from head to toe, with smelly cow shit". And as the rest of us arrived that was exactly the sight which greeted us. Dave, a bit wobbly, smelling bad and picking up his bike. No real physical damage done, a few bleeding cuts on the arm, and a graze on the leg, but psychologically, really damaged!!!!! This deserved a piccy or two, so out came the camera.....note the shit on the cheek, chin, under the armpit, on the shorts....etc....etc....superb! 

                                                                          

                              "Winnie the Mullard"                                                                                                                        "Give us a hand"

After we had all stopped pissing ourselves at Dave's misfortune (I had to go around the corner and have a private laugh to myself and try and calm down!) we set off on the slog of a climb up to Kingston Plantation. Here we scrubbed Dave down using water from a handy horse trough and a horse brush. Then a really misty climb by road, then grassy track to the 203m high Swire Head (SY 934 785). The view at the top from the bench was non-existant, so we didn't linger too long, just long enough for some date block, banana and a Mars bar. We all survived the slippery  fast,downhill descent at the end of the ridge off Smedmore Hill. Crossed the road for a short stretch along a field, even got our first glimpse of the sea, as the mist cleared for a nanosecond, then the group followed the BW diagonally right across the field, then down the slippery, wet steep, rocky descent to Steeple Leaze farm (SY909 806). The farm dogs were waiting as usual, a big black one being held by the farmer as we pushed our bikes through the farmyard. He still barked a lot though! The farmer was heard to ask three young boys coming the opposite way "would you like to stroke him"?  Hmmmmmm, not such a great idea, lads.    We climbed the road, TR onto the zig-zag, then the lung bursting climb up to Creech hill viewpoint. Some made it in one, some slipped and never regained traction, some just pushed. no names OK!!

"There's a path here somewhere, Pete...."

Passed a very misty Grange Arch, then across a shrouded Ridgeway Hill & Knowle Hill, before a blind fast descent to the Steeple road.  “Sutts” spooked some loose cows on the track off West Hill down to the base of Corfe Castle, limiting the speed down the track of the following riders. Pete decided to leave us in the centre of Corfe, promising to get a bit fitter before the next ride, and headed off back to Worth via the road through Kingston.  The village was teeming with "grockles". We hadn't seen a soul all day, then we were confronted in an instant with a heaving mass of people. The village bakery was open, so a custard tart or two downed,  before we set off on the climb up the chalky single track to the TV mast on Rollington Hill (97038201). The ridge was thick with low misty cloud and Dave and Gilbey waited whilst the rest separated, & went on a slight detour, before hailing them back on course. Fast descent past Knitson farm (2nd of the day for 3 of the riders!) then up a small track/ BW which bought us through a really untidy & messy farmyard, old tractors, cars, any old rubbish in fact, littering the scene, then rode up through a campsite, before emerging on the Kingston-Swanage road. TR along road then TL onto BW dropping down through "Papua New Guinea" (Coombe Bottom), which was full of brambles and "stingers", before a steep tarmac climb back up to Remscombe Farm (SY964 776) then by road back to the "Square & Compass". Managed to get the meat pasties just in time before the 45 minute wait for the next batch.

Graham climbing out of Corfe

Graham, Dave and Gilbey still had to cycle back to the ferry, so after ale and pasties, they set off down the "Priests Way", only to be sorely disappointed to find that some farmer has laid tarmac on the best bits of the track, making it really smooth. Dave seemed particularly pleased by this recent development. Perhaps Andy "Bike boy/cake boy/New roadie" Sherwood has sneaked in some tarmac, so he can practice roadie style in the Purbecks, when he comes down at weekends? At New Barn (SZ001 798) stocks of home made Dorset Apple Cake and Treacle tart were purchased, money going in the tin provided. A Dorset smooth snake was spotted on the track up past Knitson farm. must have been attracted to the area by the whiff eminating from Dave??? The 3 stopped for a refuel in the "Banks Arms" at Studland, as the beer festival was in full swing, complete with live bands. Arrived home around 6pm having been out in the saddle since 7am and covered about 55-60 miles each. Still, good practice for the "South Downs Way" ride in September. 

WHITE HORSE, LULWORTH    SUNDAY JULY 18 2004

Ordnance Survey maps: Explorer OL15 Purbeck and South Dorset  or  Landranger 194 Dorchester & Weymouth, Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis

Length: 20.3 miles

Terrain: Grassy tracks, tarmac, gravel tracks, undulating

4 Riders: Chris "Aarrggghh" Gilbert-Norton, Graham "Ooh, me head hurts" Rendell, Simon "Rat Boy" Weemys, Andy "Pig Boy" Willcocks.

Weather: Humid, grey skies to start, then breaking out into sunshine, with a mild SW breeze.

Min Height: 37 metres (the start, at West Lulworth Church)

Max Height: 166 metres ("The Warren, on Chaldon Down)

Height Ascended: 676 metres

Four riders turned up at West Lulworth, next to the church (SY822807) to finally perform an "exorcism" on the "White Horse" ride which has been haunting the "Wobblies" since the fateful stormy last ride back in October 2002. Graham managed to turn out for the ride, even though he and Dave Mullard had attempted to drink the entire contents of Dave's "Stella" fridge in his garage, at Dave's 40th birthday bash the night before. We left around 9.30, after waiting for the "no-shows" (where were you Mr Seage?) who had been put off by the grey skies earlier in the morning, which had produced a small amount of the wet stuff. However by the time we set off, the skies were clearing, blue bits appearing through the murk. Andy had a one way conversation with Graham up the steep climb to Daggers Gate, as Graham was gasping for oxygen like an out of water fish and sweating neat "Nelson" through his pores. Still, at least Graham made it out for the ride, Mr Mullard!  It was humid and we all stopped on the track at the top of Winfrith Hill,  to take a few pics to prove to the slackers at home in bed, how nice the day was turning out.  

We passed through the sleepy village of East Chaldon or Chaldon Herring (choose whichever name you prefer?) and were then rewarded with fine views across Winfrith Heath and over towards Owermoigne. We turned off Moigns Down (SY758 837) and met the busy A352 at Watercombe Farm. We elected to face the wrath of any ramblers and follow the footpath (naughty!) into Warmwell village rather than tackle the traffic on the A352. Found an overgrown gate and battled through the "stingers" onto a poorly marked route towards Warmwell House, a lovely old country house. Whilst navigating past the house, too busy looking at the house and grounds, instead of in front, Gilbey managed to hit a small rock hidden in the grass, and fell over the bars, narrowly missing one of the numerous "cow pats" on the ride. Definitely a "keep the mouth closed whilst riding" route at this time of year. At Warmwell St Trinity church, we paused to look at  the well tended graves of various WW2 RAF pilots killed whilst flying from Warmwell airfield, which has long since disappeared. There are the graves of 6 Hurricane & Spitfire pilots killed whilst protecting the South coast towns in the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940, plus Czechs, Poles and other pilots killed later on in the war. 

Some of "The Few"

On through Warmwell village, then we turned onto a BW across Warmwell Heath, then backtracked into Broadmayne village. TL off the road, onto the Osmington Drove which climbs up to White Horse Hill (SY712842). We stopped for some tukka and to admire the view from the hill above the chalk horse, across Weymouth Bay to Portland. Andy tried to get friendly with all the sheep in the field, but they kept running off. I did suggest he went naked for the more natural approach to the sheep, but he declined. Went down the side of the hill to see King George III on his horse (SY716841), cut into the hillside in 1808, or possibly a little earlier. Trouble is, close up you cannot make up which bit is which. It is the only chalk horse with a rider, and it is one of the only four horses to face right. It was cut into limestone, but is whitened with chalk. Dorset isn`t the only place to exhibit chalk figures. In all there are seventeen chalk horses, and many other giants crosses and figures. In total there are nearly fifty figures including the horses and regimental badges of Wiltshire.  The term used for cutting the chalk horses is leucippotomy and the term for that of the giant figures is gigantotomy. So there you go! Quite educational this month, the old ride report, don't you think?

We set off again, well stuffed, couldn't say the same for the sheep, eh Andy? Through the village of Upton then the steep road climb up to the NT car park (SY758824) overlooking Ringstead Bay. A few paragliders were here launching into wind, however more people were distracted from the launches when Andy couldn't release from his "SPuDs" and fell over in front of everyone in the car park. Superb!!  Then we had a fast, wind assisted, coastal ride back to Daggers Gate, passing Burning Cliff, The Warren, Swyre Head and Durdle Dor. We did stop for the obvious photo opportunity at the signpost to Scratchy Bottom on the way though of course. Andy did have a "moment" when he attempted a trial-type rear wheel kick out whilst coming down the steep descent back into West Lulworth. Got over 42mph down the hill according to Simons speedo. Could be the last regular ride for Simon as he is moving down to Devon in the next few months. Anybody up for a Dartmoor weekend.......Free bed and breakfast???  Packed up the bikes and drove to the "Castle Inn" in the village. To be recommended for the food and the giant wooden chess set out the front of the pub. Gilbey had to seek some shade, as his sunburnt face from an airshow the day before was being re-fried by the rays again. We all agreed that the "Acorn of Achievement" should be awarded to all four riders, as we had finally completed an "exorcism" on the "White Horse" ride. You all missed a good un.....!

"You scratch mine....."

COED -Y BRENIN, NORTH WALES, SATURDAY 19 JUNE 2004

 Length: long way!

Riders:Dave Smith, Dave Mullard, Steve Heap, Gilbey, Graham Rendell, Simon Weemys, Martin Sissons, Paul “All the Gear” Cox, Bob Hammett, Dave Eliston, Cliff Turner, Nick ???

Weather: sunny, cloudy, rainy (Welsh weather in other words!)

After the usual long drive to Wales (6 hours!), the lads met up at the bunkhouse on “The Ponderosa Ranch”, a Wild West style chalet site at Penmaenpool near Dolgellau. Over a couple of beers, pre supplied by Mr Rendell & Mr Cox, plus some home made spag bol, made to Mr Rendell's secret recipe, the riders watched in dismay as the local weather forecast gave a forecast of thunderstorms and heavy rain for the Saturday. Undeterred, we awaited Saturday. The silent  Welsh night was only broken by Simon waking up and shouting"something has just crawled across my bed". Thinking Mr Smith was on the prowl, sleeping bag zips were checked by those awakened. A vision of a loose rat was later dismissed, as Saturday morning, Simon admitted that he had imagined it....!  

Dave "661" Mullard on "Able" on the MBR route

Saturday dawned clear and sunny however, and fortified by huge steaming vats of Gilbeys “special” porridge, we made an early start to Coed-Y-Brenin Forest visitor centre. This was a time of trepidation for all of the “Cody” virgins. Hundreds of biting midges greeted us at the car park (£3 all day including parking and use of all the trails) so not too much pre ride “tweaking”. Keen to get away quickly, the group set off at 08.30, slogging off on the long uphill onto “Red Bull”. The Forest Enterprise boys have been busy on the chainsaws and so “Heart of Darkness” wasn’t quite as dark as last time, many trees having been chopped down. Then onto the rocky threesome of “Snap, Crackle & Pop”. Dave Mullard was even seen supporting a weak smile on exiting “Pop”, rather than the usual “Wallace” worried smile, so typical of his usual downhill riding. So there was just the possibility of a faint ray of hope that he might even enjoy himself during the day? Steve lost his water bottle whilst speeding down the “Rocky Horror Show”. Everyone at the end of the section said “did you see that water bottle…blah, blah” but no-one was going to stop on the section to pick it up, so Steve ended walking back to get it. The large rocky drop offs in “Root of all Evil” were ridden by most, even Dave M managing a controlled roll off one of the drops. I think even a whoop of delight was heard coming from him whilst riding the berms of “Mantrap”! He did manage to fall sideways at one rocky section, but Richard Gears had provided Dave with body armour. I think this was one of the main conditions for Dave riding Coed-Y-Brenin. Full Six Six One protection. After stopping briefly in the car park, for post "Red Bull" tweaking, we sought shelter from the biting midges at the superb café at 10:30. Beans on toast, eggs on toast and some rather dry oatmeal cakes were consumed as well earned second breakfasts. Steve mysteriously disappeared at about this time – he had succumbed to Gilbeys “special” porridge, and was being luxuriantly sick behind Dave’s van. This unfortunately put him out of action for the day. The split-away group turned up as the main section were leaving, so maps were exchanged to allow them to pick and choose rides.  

Ready for "Uncle Fester" on the Karrimor?

With full bellies, the intrepid band, less the few who had decided to make their own way round and meet later, headed next for part of “MBR” this being “Flightpath” where Mr Eliston had a flat. We re-rode “Snap Crackle and Pop” then joined “Karrimor” for the imaginatively named “R74”. Most enjoyed this as it was quite a long section of hill hugging, undulating, singletrack, involving quite a lot of concentration and pedalling.  Then we passed under the A470 bridge and picked up the steep singletrack and fire roads to Dol-gefeiliau summit. At the top Nick sprinted on whilst the others puffed into view. All enjoyed “Cain” where Mr Smith had the first of his FOUR punctures during the day. Few slight spots of rain on this section but it eased again, resulting in lots of coat on & off stops. “Able” was enjoyed by all and we regrouped on the old stone bridge at the bottom afterwards. We decided to do the “Pink Heifer” and we regrouped on the fire road, in time to meet up with Bob and “Paul “All the Gear” doing some of the “MBR”. By this point in the day, Bob had managed to fall off some five times, so we tightened up his headset as I think the crashes had shocked the gleam machine somewhat. At this point two more punctures made themselves known, so the fixing gave the group time to consume some energy food, and the chance for Martin to catch us up after doing the “Pink Heifer”. He decided to join the larger group who would be tackling the delights of the “MBR”. Paul and Bob left for the café and the group set off on “Big Doug”. Nick managed to snap his chain on this so Gilbey and Cliff stayed back to wait for him. The rest tackled the long slog up the fireroad to Penrhos-isaf. At this point muscles were aching and energy levels were getting low. At the top several riders had to have a lie down, and found it difficult to get up again.

A light drizzle meant that “Hermon” was one of the more challenging parts of the trail, with the roots and rocks feeling rather slippery, but eventually the sanctuary of the second café was reached and large mugs of sweet tea and cakes revived the crew considerably. Wild birds joined the skanky riders in the summer house for tea and welsh cakes. Simon had been getting “wobbly legs” syndrome before the café, but perked up afterwards. The bloody steep tarmac road followed, then a bit of fire road diversion to break up the tarmac section to the start of “Uncle Fester”, “Morticia” and “Gomez”. The midges were waiting at the top for us so not too much hanging around before plunging down into “Uncle Fester”. Cliff came a cropper here, then Graham managed to get his chain jammed behind his suspension. Finally after some stripdwn and some chain splitting the other superb sections of “Morticia” and “Gomez” were attacked. “Gomez” had one surprise left, as this was where Gilbey made his spectacular (and winning) bid for the Acorn of Achievement. A moment’s inattention during a tricky descent onto the fire road, ended with him vaulting over his bike, and running down the side of the slope, missing two trees. He nearly made it to the bottom, but tripped over the huge boulders and went down like a sack of spuds, landing on his head (are you listening Mr “Sutts”!).  

"Nice pads, Mr M"

Dave M rushed up to check his camera was OK. It was, and so was Gilbey, apart from a few scratches and dented pride. Think a new skid lid was mentioned in the post crash analysis.  Crossed back over the bridge at Pont and tackled the last section of “Karrimor”, the climbing making a few riders cuss and swear a bit. Dave Smith had his final puncture near to the final descent, the midges being particularly vicious here, so all hands to the puncture, to get it fixed quick. Met up with all back at the car park and loaded bikes quick as the midges were waiting, then home for large steaks at the “John Wayne” saloon at the “Ponderosa”. The décor had to be seen to be believed. Riders soon “glazed” over after dinner,  making excuses and leaving for their sleeping bags, some diehards managing till midnight. Coed-Y-Brenin had done it again. So ended a satisfying days ride, with all the “Virgins” saying they would do it again. See you again in 2005…….

PLUSH PLAYGROUND    SUNDAY MAY 16 2004

Ordnance Survey maps: Explorer 117: Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis,  

Length: 21 miles

Terrain: Grassy tracks, tarmac, gravel tracks, edges of ploughed fields

6 Riders: Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Dave Simon, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Simon Weemys.

Weather: Brilliant sunshine, mild breeze

Min Height: 85 metres (Dole's Hill Plantation)

Max Height: 259 metres (Cross Dyke)

We met at “The Brace of Pheasants” car park at Plush (713022) at 9am. Graham and Simon turned up nearer to 9.30 as they had been out at a wedding reception th enight before, complete with a free bar, so I was REALLY suprised to see them. The weather couldn't have been any better. "Sutts" was the last to arrive, just in time for our "run in" with the ponce landlord of the pub. He came marching out of the pub, in his dressing gown, muttering something about "you cannot leave all four (!) cars in the car park, pub will be extremely busy today, loads of people coming from Poole for lunch, blah blah blah, turning away £100 in food trade.....blah...blah. So we removed the cars from his precious car park.   Was warming up nicely by the time we set off out of pub car park and followed road south through a valley, TL at bend at Tokenhills Coppice. New "gate" policy adopted on this ride. First rider to arrive at a gate opens it and lets all the other riders through, and then closes it thereby keeping the rider pack moving and keeping the fastest riders pace down. We cycled past Dole’s Ash Farm which looked more like a rich mans mansion than a farm. Hog Leaze valley was a fast downhill through fields full of Rapeseed, a colourful sight at this time of year. Not so keen on the whiff though. While passing Dole’s Hill plantation Graham Seage got caught in a rut, tried to alter course and went over the bars in a spectacular fashion. He landed pretty heavily and cut his elbow. No problem I thought, first aid kit produced, plaster stuck on which proceeded to fall off! After a few minutes to regain some form of sense he was ok to ride again. We climbed to meet road at Drake’s Lane(746004). SA onto BW climbing steadily past Nettlecombe Farm. Grahams disc was making a bad screeching noise so we stopped whilst he realigned the wheel. Set off and no change, still noisy! This noise grabbed the attention in the fields full of sheep and new born lambs. One field had white one's, the other was full of black ones. Thought about leaving the gate open and mixing the stock of sheep up. Could create some interesting coloured sheep same time next year! The group stopped on top of the ridge surrounding Lynscombe Bottom for a breather and some scram, whilst admiring the superb views across Southern Dorset . Dave Simon got the imaginations going when he mentioned the scenario of some "busty milk maids skipping through the long grass on their way home from market...." Pervey! Then followed the BW down a grassy descent past a piggery to Thorncombe Farm. TL onto road then TL onto BW until it meets road near to the "Giant's Grave"after a great steep downhill. TL onto road then TL onto BW through another field full of sheep and new born lambs. The noise from them all was deafening!! Baa Ram Ewe and all that....

When passing Melcombe Farm the ground was pretty bumpy and uneven, a good reason being that this is the site of Melcombe Horsey Medieval Village. Bit inconsiderate building it next to a bridleway though, used by MBR's. It was really warming up now, and we climbed towards gap in the ridge. Passed through Dorsetshire Gap (743032). Muddy section through the woods defeated most of the riders. Out into the open for a steep hill to a gap at the top, which was attempted in a "zig zag" pattern by most. Saw three grazing deer from the top of the hill. Took them a while to sense we were actually watching them, then they fled off. I think the heavy gasping from the rear riders gave the game away.  We follow BW to Armswell Farm, in the process Gilbey managed to break a brand new metal gate, which had to be rehung by "Sutts". Graham Seage decided to escape at the road back to Plush as the earlier tumble had begun to surface in the form of aches and pains. The rest carried on by road and TR before Mappowder village onto track passing Place Farm (739058) and Mappowder Court. Then we hit a really muddy, cow S*** filled section by a gate which required a run up to get through!!! The herd of Fresians seemed bemused by our antics and even looked liked stampeding us at one point! Never seen Gilbey and "Sutts" pedal so fast. We tackled a few more bogs around various gates, and detoured through a wood full of bluebells (all say aaaggh!) before climbing to Melcombe Park Farm. Then TR after farm onto Wessex Ridgeway past Cony-gar Copse, which made for interesting riding, across grass, uphill, with cows footprints everywhere making for a bumpy uphill puff! Great views from the top of Dorsetshire Gap made it all worthwhile. More climbing to the high point near Nettlecombe Tout fort, Gilbey had a hawthorn puncture here which gave the group the chance of a breather. Spooked another deer here which couldn't find a way through the fence, so we waited until he decided to make a run for it. We located the downhill BW to Folly after some minor navigation errors. At the road junction we decided to carry on with the route up Ball Hill (722035) through Watcombe Wood. Then we followed Ridgeway downhill to TL before Penny Farthing Wood. We rode across two fields of crops, rode across Watcombe Plain and ended with a steep chalk track downhill into Plush. We arrived back at the "Brace" to a very empty pub full of "hoorays". Not many local Dorset accents to be heard in this boozer. So we adjourned to the beer garden to relax...

DROVERS    SUNDAY APRIL 18 2004

Ordnance Survey maps: Explorer 118: Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase, Landranger 195: Bournemouth & POurbeck, /Wimborne Minster & Ringwood

Length: 26 miles

Terrain: Muddy wet drove tracks, wet forest fire road, wet roads (all wet!).

11 Riders, 3 "escaped" early: Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Dave Mullard, Clive Ramsden, Graham Rendell, Pete Robinson, Graham Seage, Dave Simon, Andy Willcocks, James Willcocks, Simon Weemys.

Weather: Drizzly turning to heavy, long periods of rain.

Min Height: 27 metres (Horton Heath, road)

Max Height: 185 metres (Pentridge Hill)

After the previous evenings weather, lashing rain and blustery wind, I was really suprised to see 11 riders arrive to light rain at “The Drovers” inn at Gussage All Saints (SU 002 105). Big grey clouds were looming. Eleven "Wobblies" set off at 09.15, up behind the car park onto the grass Drove, TL at Brockington Down. Already, we were getting pretty muddy and the tracks were slippery, a sign of things to come perhaps? A good fast descent off Brockington Down, then bore right on tracks at Tenantry Down. Mullard seemed to have a rocket up his arse here as he left us all standing on the climb! At the top, Pete had to adjust his front disc on the Giant as it was making strange noises. I reckon it was just due to the first real "off roading" it was having. More DH practice for the" troops" to Manor Farm (SU 017 135). We TR onto road then TL for the long slog up onto Monkton Drove. Had a regroup at the top before the first unscheduled stop on meeting the tarmac again at Squirrel’s Corner when Graham Rendell had the first of three punctures. Fixed and on the run again, we TL off the tarmac for the bumpy downhill to Cranborne Farm (SU 041 145). Picked up the “Jubilee Trail”, TL at Jack’s Hedge Corner (SU 047 153). Bit of a hard slog up the steep track to Blackbush Down (SU 037 164). Pete had some "colourful" language to say when he reached the top of Pentridge Hill (185m). "******* hill" & "I'll give you it's not a ******* steep hill" were two of the gems I can remember him uttering. We all stopped at the trig point in the pine trees to shelter from the rain and have some spuds and fig rolls, including some small easter eggs brought along by Roy. Good show! Well received they were too.  Not too good a view from this normally clear viewpoint as the rain was beginning to get heavier. By Blagdon Hill, Roy, Pete and Clive had decided to take the "escape route" by road through Cranborne to Gussage, just before "Pig Alley".  We passed the series of ancient earthworks (Bokerley & Grims ditches) then the fast grassy descent across Tidpit Down down to the road. Pete, Clive and Roy left us here. I'm sure a few others were slightly tempted to join them. So for the remaining 8, into "Pig Alley". Due to loads of pigs farmed here in the fields, the track in the wet is a rather waterlogged (river?), smelly and slightly worringly, green, puddle filled route. Urrgh! Once passed the pig farm buildings, mouths being kept firmly shut for that section, we hit some serious "technical" mud. It was here that Andy "Pig Boy" Willcocks was to earn the "Acorn of Achievement" for April. After failing to ride a muddy section in one, he returned to re ride it properly. Or so he planned. However the SPuDs had other ideas, as he preceded to fall over into the mud in a rather splendid way in full view of 4 witnesses. Not satisfied with that dismal attempt at some "technical", he returned towards the group, only to fall off again!! Superb Andy, two SPuD falls for the price of one!! I really wanted to capture the moment on film, but couldn't take a photo as I was nearly peeing myself laughing so much. Graham then had ANOTHER puncture to keep James company who also had one. Time for some new tyres perhaps, Mr Rendell Then we joined the road, deciding to "road it" to the church at Cripplestyle (SU 091 124). Onto road / BW beside the church then climbed up through the boggy marsh area after crossing the old railway into Telegraph Plantation. Mr Rendell disappeared here for some 5 minutes muttering something about "Bears doing something in the woods....blah....blah..." Anyway he returned to meet us at the top of the hill looking much lighter on his tyres.

Good descent through plantation on Pistle Down. Graham then had ANOTHER puncture, which gave the group a chance to shelter under some trees out of the heavy rain whilst he fixed it.  Near miss on a reversing car coming out of a drive just before Verwood (SU 086 091).  Past church, onto BW under disused railway bridge ((SU 075 080), through Bridge Farm until XR of BWs near power lines at Oakfield Farm. Andy, Dave and Graham Rendell went on ahead and decided to go left here, but we didn't know this and so we went straight on. A quick phone call established that they were waiting for us and we were waiting for them!! So we waited, rather wet and now very cold at Clump Hill (SU 066 063). When we regrouped we decided to road it all the way to the "Drovers" as we were all feeling the cold and were all very wet by now.  Pete and Clive tooted and flashed at the sodden group of riders as they passed us going the opposite way in their nice warm and dry BMW, near the Horton Inn. We all changed in the car park into warm dry clothes and adjourned into the bar to debrief (and warm up!). Better weather next time we hope........

WISE MAN LOOP    SUNDAY MARCH 14 2004

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure map: Purbeck and South Dorset

Length: 14 miles

Terrain: Muddy tracks, forest fire road, road

15 Riders: Andrew, Carl, Paul Cox, Richard Gears, Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Paul Jewell, Kevin Lane, Chris Morilla, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Andy Sherwood, Martin Sissons, Dave Smith.

Weather: Overcast, drizzly turning to heavy rain, Increasing SW wind.

Min Height: 37 metres (Tincleton Church)

Max Height: 125 metres (Green Hill, Puddletown Forest)

The plan to assemble outside the "Wise Man" at 9am was doomed to failure, after Rendell and Gilbey had turned up at Andy Sherwood's at 8am. After a few progressively longer rings on the doorbell, Graham was eventually confronted by Andys female lodger in her pyjamas!!!!! And it was a cold day, Graham informed Gilbey, who was sat in the van and missed the whole show! Eventually sleeping "cake boy" was roused from his "pit" but after stopping to cram Dave Smith into the back of the Escort van, along with Andy plus four bikes, we arrived at the pub car park some 20 minutes late, to be confronted with not just a few hardy souls, but 11, making an impressive total of 15 riders, which given the approaching weather and previous nights forecast, was a good turn out. Paul Jewell and Karl (Carl?) were making their debut rides. Carl had a new bike, which he'd only ridden around the block previously. This ride would test it out...We set off east from the pub along the road to Tenantrees (SY 738 896) TL down a farm track passing Tenant farm. Passing the farm we entered a water meadow with a faint track towards the river Frome. Chris Morilla located a slippery bridge, so we all hoiked the bikes across, "Spud" shoes made some peoples crossing on the bridge extra slippery. Joined a muddly, puddly farm track to Norris Mill Farm. TR onto the road and then TL onto "Rhododendron Mile" then immediately right onto a BW which turned into a climbing singletrack up the eastern edge of Puddletown Forest to Castle Hill (SY 748 925). Just after this Carl got a flat, which in turn led to some interesting shapes being formed with his brand new tyre, which resembled a twisted snake after everyone had handled it. He looked a bit worried, with everyone handling his shiny new machine. Paul Jewell found the 10-minute stop here a welcome break after the 30m gain in height since leaving the road. Rejoined the road then passed through Athelhampton, before picking up a BW next to Adminston Farm. Most of the riders missed the gate, hidden in the fence on the left leading to a climbing singletrack. Weather was beginning to deteoriate here, so Paul "All the Gear" Cox perked everyone up, offering round some of Mrs Cox' home made fruit cakes. "Granny Pascoes" shortbread fingers don't begin to compare to these delights. Unfortunately, the large group meant that "seconds" didn't happen. Paul, tell her she'll have to bake more next time! The next section along the track to the descent to Tincleton can only be described as muddy and wet. The group all bunched at some particularly deep rutted sections of the track, a few people getting a bootful of muddy cold, water, Graham Rendell being one of the unlucky ones! The descent down to the road to Tincleton church (SY 775 918) proved to be a rutted, deep mud filled descent, Richard Gears managing to go over the bars at one stage. Looked good though. The sprint west along the road to the southern end of Puddletown Forest was hampered by the driving rain and strong SW wind in riders faces. By now the combination of wind and rain had got all of us. Nothing for it but to plod on. Chris Morilla and Paul Jewell were particularly enjoying themselves. Chris mentioned "oh, I didn't think what would happen if it rained". Always an important thing to consider on a ride...Still, he did mention having some waterproofs "at home"! We entered "Puddletown Forest at the lower 2nd car park on "Rhododendron Mile" and climbed the fire track to the top at Green Hill (125m). The option was given here for turning left to the pub, passing Hardys Cottage or turning right to do some of the trails, "Jungle, Spitfire etc.....I hadn't even finished reeling off the trail names before the last of 10 riders were seen scuttling off towards the sanctuary of the "Wise Man" inn! To be fair the cold and wet had "waterlogged" some of the lads and the new ones had done just about enough by now. So Graham Rendell, Andy Sherwood, Gilbey, Dave Smith and Richard Gears attempted to ride "Jungle". It all went bad, starting with Dave, who was last seen sliding into the abyss that is the bombhole known as"Postman pat", then all of us slipping down the other side of the next bombhole, failing to reach the top. The rain had left it's mark making grip limited. Andy then went over the bars near the exit of "Jungle" and Richard decided to recreate the feat at the same spot. "Spitfire" was ridden, with a superb over the bars being acted out by Richard, in front of Gilbey, who was following. Looked well impressive! Think a stump was to blame. Gilbey and Andy split at the bottom, erring on the side of caution, but Dave, Richard and Graham stayed for some more. Sadists? Very windy ride through Kingston Maurward (SY 721 910) back to the pub, which was in the middle of refurbishment. I hope it won't loose it's Olde Pub feel afterwards.....or it's pork scratchings. Some of the riders departed sharpish, as they had no change of dry clothes. I recommend bringing a spare set of clothes if weather looks dubious. Paul Jewell and Richard Gears were frontrunners for the coveted "Acorn of Achievement" .Paul for finishing his 1st ride in adverse weather conditions on slicks and Richard for becoming the "wobblies" latest “crazy downhiller”. On the flip of a coin PJ won it and Richard went home to soothe his buttocks which he had been using as a brake on the rear tyre for most of the steep technical sections!

A good ride enjoyed by all even if people did start muttering "Lulworth" at one point.

STONEHENGE LOOP    SUNDAY FEBRUARY 15 2004

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure map: Salisbury and the Plain

Length: 18 miles

Terrain: Muddy tracks, road

7 Riders: Richard Gears, Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Simon, Graham Rendell, Dave Simon, Martin Sissons, “Sutts”.

Weather: Low visibility, misty,cold.

The "ROG" made a 3rd appearance for this ride. Richard Gears had already been to Amesbury by the time we turned up, due to some navigation errors. We parked in the "Black Horse" car park at Great Durnford. We departed at 9.15am, TR opposite church into stony and hedged uphill track. Plenty of pee breaks taken upon reaching the A345 road.  TL onto well defined twin-track parallel with A345. Gilbey started getting aroused when the landing lights of Boscombe Down airfield were passed.  "No Photography, planespotters will be eaten by alsatian guard dogs etc, etc, under the Official Secrets Act" signs were posted all along the airfield's perimeter fence of the test pilot airfield. "All they need is the Right Stuff and a piece of chewing gum" was Dave's view of test pilots! The "ROG" had a puncture at Stockport Junction. Luckily for "Sutts" some of us were carrying puncture kits, pumps, tyre levers...............kitchen sink.........Followed bridleway down into Amesbury. Crossed over the busy A303 roundabout onto A345 SP “Marlborough”. We TL at gate, SP “Bridleway, Larkhill” and slogged up the farm track, past an old silage pit (Mmmmmmmm!), then stopped at the Old King Barrows for a spiritual feeling photo. Stonehenge appeared through the murk at this point of the ride. Joined the tarmac again at Strangeways, a dodgy army housing estate. The sound of gunfire rang out as we approached the other army housing estate at Larkhill, so we kept on pedaling, knowing how much the army prefers a moving target to practice on. Onto a single farm road, through the big, muddy, dip as you cross The Cursus, no fallers here, to meet the A344 at Stonehenge. We rode up to the perimeter fence around Stonehenge for a few piccys, a passing couple from Singapore doing the honours with the camera shots. Then crossed the busy A303 crossroads onto open muddy twin-track, over Normanton Down then for a choice of slippery singletracks to woods before A360 at Druids Lodge. Passed some barking "mutts"in Druids Head Farm.  TL after farm for a climb on wide dirt road, past the wood on crest of hill. Met two scramblers bombing the other way on moto crossers so kept away from them and the puddles, as we'd stayed dry up until now!  Bit hard going on the last muddy, rutted, stretch before rejoining A360. Few feet down spotted on this section. Riding on the tarmac gave us a chance to get the mud from the tyres and into the eyes of the riders behind, although the "ROG" looked remarkably clean with it's full length mudguards. Great, mass hurtle downhill to Middle Woodford, overtaking some joggers who gave us a friendly wave as we passed them. Walked along footpath over the three bridges crossing the River Avon at Lower Woodford, then hugged it all the way back through the village of Netton to the "Black Horse". All changed out of the muddy clothes just in time for opening time. In the bar, the "Acorn of Achievement" was passed to "Sutts" for completing another ride on the "ROG". The landlord eyed it suspiciously on the table. "Is that mine" he said, and went off to check his wooden fittings for missing acorns!! However, Mr "Sutts" we think enough is enough, trade in the trekking style "ROG" for a shiny, new Specialized perhaps...................?

WINTERBORNE STICKYLAND" (North Dorset Downs) SUNDAY JANUARY 18 2004

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure map: OS Map Explorer 117  Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis

Length: 17 miles

Terrain: Muddy bridleways & farm tracks, road

8 Riders: Chris Gilbert-Norton (Gilbey), Dave Mullard, Dave Smith, Graham Seage, Roy George, Simon, “Sutts”.

Weather: sunny spells, but cold.

9 riders assembled outside the “Crown” at Winterborne Stickland. "Sutts" fresh from the success of the Xmas pub ride on the "ROG" decided to try the "Rog", a 3-speed Slovakian speed demon road bike, in some off road action!!! After some tyre pumping (we must buy a decent pump between us all) we set off up past the church through Winterborne Houghton. We TR onto the farm track for the first loo stop (well it was bloody cold) before passing Higher Houghton farm. The track, which runs up the valley (Heath Bottom/Great Hill) caught a few out including "Sutts" who found the "Rog's" narrow road tyres to be struggling a bit in the deep muddy ravines. Dave Smith's daily commuting from Poole to Christchurch and back, payed off on the climb up through The Stubbs, leaving us all puffing and some even pushing to the top. We rejoined the tarmac road. A bit of completely childish icy puddle breaking at Wolland Hill, with Simon nearly coming a cropper, when on one puddle, the ice didn't break and the bike nearly slid out from underneath him. A "sheepish" approach was detected afterwards!! Good views across Blackmore Vale. Only 35 miles from the Quantocks at this point. We all enjoyed the fast downhill road descent, the "ROG" leaping into the lead here, before we TR onto bridleway. Climbed up the chalky track to the top of Bell Hill, then descended to the road along the icy puddled track. We skirting the forest, Sutts & Roy taking the low road to the rest of us. It was so cold that a couple of sweaty individuals actually had the sweat on their backs turn to frost! We TR through gate just past Folly Barn, and stopped for some malt loaf, fig rolls and Korean raisins, before a very fast descent through the grass field, then along the track through Sutcombe Wood. A group of Mountain bikers coming up the track were left open mouthed in disbelief as "Sutts" wizzed past them on the "ROG" ringing the bell!  A classic moment, just wished I'd captured the riders looks on camera....Durweston village provided a breather for us all as the "ROG" had a flat. The climb upwards through a large field from the village was managed by most of us. Along the farm track & then rejoined tarmac road at Travellers Rest . Through the Jubilee Trail, then climbed up through Field Grove Plantation. TL at crossroads of bridleway tracks for a downhill to the road which was wet and muddy, most of us being unable to actually see where we were going!! TL on meeting tarmac road for a noticeable sprint by all for 2 miles to the “Crown” for beer and a roast.