The day started a little bleary eyed with the cat reminding me that the clocks went forward at 5am.
The zoo duly fed and watered, I got my self together, bike checked again (it hadn't got any more retro since the last one) and porridge eaten I was ready to ride out.
A quick little bimble into Angmering Village square to wait for Klein-Mad-Chris
I'd barely had time to take the shot before I heard that familiar drone of knobblies on tarmac. Pleasantries exchanged and remarks about what the strange shiny yellow object in the sky was and we were off.
We were early, first time for everything I suppose, and with the train still more than 15 minutes away we took bets on who would and who wouldn't show..
Adam arrived first, with tales of crazy offroad riding all the way from Surrey the day before
Mick arrived next in the Works van and soon set about getting ready to fettle
with still many minutes to spare the small group soon devolved to type...Fettle!
Time soon passed fixing cantis, fiddling with video cameras, discussing the possible sock purchasing opportunities but we were a man down. Warpedboy2 was a no show and on his last ride before moving out west! phonecalls were made, but to no avail. perhaps we'd see him at the Café?
Taking it for the team were myself, Klein-Mad-Chris, Adam, Godders, thesneaker, kampos, twain and Augustus. TheGreenRabbit arrived to give us the team talk, rosstheboss was still as yet unconfirmed and warpedboy2 was still sans comms.
we were ready to roll
The ride progressed as they usually do..banter, bikes, more banter and the occasional mechanical. By the time we were up past the fisheries and beginning to really enjoy the fantastic weather it was starting to become obvious that we'd picked up a gremlin. Adam's single rear sprocket was losing teeth, or so we thought. As we ground up to the 4th climb of the day kampos decided that he was going to call it a day, Adams' cog finally went. we counted the teeth, but they were all still there!? The pawl had gone. freewheel borked, he decided to head back with kampos.
2 men down we pushed on, a loop within the loop was tested and not found to be wanting. in fact, this may become a permanent addition. News of twain's new family member still in the negative we spun back up and headed towards the café and racing chips.
I had pushed myself last year, but at a cost. Bad knees got worse and this had led to serious time off the bike. It was beginning to show. My concentration was starting to wane and sure enough some wet chalk had my name written on it. and then a slight imprint of my face, shoulder and helmet. Augustus and I peeled of at the bottom of the hill leaving the more able bodied to check out the rumours of forestry commision work in my playground. Hopefully K-M-C can stick up a picture, but it was devastating, the south end of Whiteways was a mess.
We arrived at the café, and I swiftly devoured my racing sausage (not a euphamism, it really was just a sausage in a bun)
racing chips and racing pasty dispatched swiftly interspersed with yet more bike banter. The motor bike crowds were out in full force, and we met a rasta with the swagger
Augustus decided to call it a day as he had a fair cycle home, so it was time to hit Whiteways North and see how bad the rest of it had been affected. Parts were ok, parts were cleared and parts were just abysmal
luckily some of the routes were still ridable thanks to the dilligence of some good souls. we ran our new top run, but by the time we got to the end, I was done. With the rest of the loop to do and the spin back, I wasn't sure I could play anymore in Whiteways. Twain and thesneaker very graciously conceeded and we set off back to the café, and into Amberley
A close call with an Eastern Bloc van driver and his trailer nearly taking out twain, we pushed on through Amberley and on to the final part of the ride - the styles, the bridges, my forgotten hills and the flat land spin past the Black Rabbit.
K-M-C had apparently donned his "make me invisible" onesie at some point after the last bridge and shit magneted all the bad drivers through Arundel, so we were glad to get to the station. Hands shaken, promises made, goodbyes exclaimed and we'd lost Godders and twain.
The three of us spun back along the A27 to Angmering where we said goodbye to thesneaker and on into the village.
a slightly lengthy pitstop to collect the other half and it was journey's end
27 miles plus change, 5 hours plus some more change and I was done. A hot shower, lovely Lamb dinner and hammerpot beer was calling my name..
a great day out, and to coin a certain persons phrase...best ride of my life