Thursday was quite a busy day. I had been out with the family visiting a few places but I had been very organised and had the choice of either of my two Orange Brompton bicycles, both clean and raring to go. This ride to Felpham, not far from Bognor Regis was to be the first night ride of the season as the previous ride to Southend - which would have been the first - was cancelled due to poor weather. I set off with my Orange Titanium and made it to the start point in good time.
At the start I was very pleased to see Geoff, who I had not seen since last year and our trip to Dungeness. Far too long. Sadly, Dr John wasn't well so could not attend. Jenny and Paul were the only other participants on small wheels with Samantha making up the old Brompton crew, albeit on big wheels.
Our ride leader was Bob and after the safety tak and briefing about the ride we got ourselves ready and just after midnight we set off.
We got as far as Clapham Common before for a regrouping and the dreaded 'P' word travelled up and down the ranks. One rider had succumbed to a puncture. This was not the only person to have suffered a visitation from the 'P' word but I believe this rider only had some tyre patches (for me a last resort when all else fails) and no inner tubes. This was to be a theme for the first part of the ride up to the refreshments stop at Burstow.
Much of the ride followed the route that Dr John and I take on our rides to Brighton. I have to confess to missing my friend and will definitely need to arrange one of our duo rides.
We reached Farthing Down and the cattle grid entry and exit a great deal later than we should, sadly due to punctures and waiting around. Normally, it is when it rains that there seems to be more punctures. Although quite chilly, the rain stayed away and it was just going to be one of those nights.
We arrived at the sanctuary of Burstow Scouts a little before 04:00 - a great deal later than I can ever remember. As always the welcome was friendly and the refreshments just what we needed. The Tail End Charlies had not arrived until nearly an hour later - assisting with you guessed it more punctures - and just after 05:00 we departed having completed less than 30 miles with a little over 40 to go. I have to confess I did speculate about just bailing there and then, cycling on my own to Brighton. The train from Bognor to London Bridge take almost 2 hours.
In the end I cycled for only a few miles more at after I took the photo below I bailed. I said my goodbye to the new Tail End Charlies - the originals were somewhere further back dealing with more mechanicals - and made by way to Horsham Station. I arrived at about 06:30 having only cycled 39.9 miles since London. Wow! The train was empty and I got into London and then home at a decent time.
I am sure that the chap with all the punctures will be better prepared next time but it really was a complete pain in the arse that the ride was delayed for so long. The next ride will be to Burnham-on-Crouch in a few weeks time and already I look forward to it. Let's hope that we don't have a repeat of this number of mechanicals!
Many thanks to Bob for leading the ride and a special mention to the Tail End Charlies, Ross and Greg who both deserve an OBE!
Until next time, stay safe out there people (and always take a f*&%#@! inner tube)!!
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