The Last Ride: Littlehampton Circular, N,W,S &E.

10 September 2013

Extra Brownie points to Linda for arriving at Littlehampton on two wheels. Commiserations to Angela who arrived on four wheels but who was unable to join the ride as she was suffering from tennis elbow. Anne, Mike, Julilan, Roger and Suzanne all opted for letting the train take the strain.

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The BBC Weather site had forecast two drops of rain for 11 am and thankfully that is all we saw as we wended (wand?) our way N.-W. through Yapton on to Walberton to have a brief look at the pretty little pond nestling between Barnham Lane and Eastergate Lane. Eastergate Lane then took us W. to Westergate (obvious, really) and on through to Oving (the Saxon village of Uuinges – the territory of Üfe’s people) to a very happy rendez-vous with Angela and welcome lunch at the Gribble (a marine bug that will eat any of your submerged wood if you’re not careful) Inn.

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Real rain had fallen during our enjoyable lunch, but the lowering skies had us putting on various layers of waterproof clothing – wisely as it later transpired. From Oving we made a dramatic turn to the S. and managed to avoid busy roads by crossing the perilous A259 and arriving at the intriguing (but unfortunately closed) church of Merston (the marsh farmstead) where Julian tried to take a photo with his new camera, but five soggy cyclists got into the picture by mistake. Now it was time to turn E. Anne and Mick had found a lovely solution to the tricky problem of negotiating the top of Pagham Harbour for our return to Bognor: three bridleways through vast open fields giving magnificent views of the turbulent skies. In what seemed like next to no time we were in Bognor (“bugger” – I quote a king) … which seemed to have battened down the hatches for autumn. We bowled along with, at last the wind behind us. When we arrive at the shared cycle/pedestrian route along the prom there was no danger of getting within about 100 yards of the very sparse sprinkling of pedestrians. This gave us time to admire the sea of colours ranging from the lightest Connmara marble green to the darkest Welsh slate grey. The sky a swirl of blue, white and ominous black.

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Linda had a date (with her husband, one hastens to mention) so cycled off alone while the remainging, infamous five were lured into the Lobster Pot café and did not emerge until copious tea and cakes (no ginger beer) had been consumed. It had rained heavily during this scrumptious feast – and it forgot to stop when we came out. After a couple of pusillanimous stops to shelter from the downpour, the decsion was made to spurn the NCR2 and to make a dash along the A259. Not a pleasant experience. Cars were travelling well above the 60mph limit. Julian got soaked by puddle spray. The magnificent rainbow arching over the road was little compensation. Angela’s suggestion at lunch that all car drivers should be made to ride a bike for a week as part of their training seemed very apposite at that moment.

This “short cut” had saved us a couple of miles. Is it not time that a safe cycle route be built parallel (preferable not alongside) the A259? Why do those using their own energy have to go the long way round to protect themselves from those polluting the atmosphere and making noise with their internal combustion engines?

Rather than continue to put our lives at risk, we opted for a trip down to Climping Beach and back N.-E. into Littlehampton (see “Haneton” in the Doomesday Book). Our train pulled in almost as we arrived at the station. The 49 minutes of the return journey sped past in lively chat and “I’ll show you my GPS if you will show me your iPad” conversation.

Many thanks to Anne and Mick for keeping the rain off for far longer than we expected and for organising such a fascinating ride which reached some parts which Clarion ( a cycling club in which Fellowship if Life) had not reached before – always a great achievement.

Suzanne