The usual winter malaise had caught up with me over Christmas, and much to my own frustration it left me wanting at my own party on the 28th December. Curses to this weak constitution. The Yuletide period brought with it the usual visiting rights to family and friends – a visit to Basingstoke was high up on the list and during the week I hatched a plan to ride there – of course 90 miles is beyond my reach right now, but I was happy to give it a go I wasn’t trying to be big or clever.

I asked my friend George if he was interested in riding some of the way with me, maybe we could meet on route? George suggested that he would be happy to meet at mine – there’s something a bit perverse about George. After internal negotiation he confirmed and on the Saturday he arrived bright and breezy and infectious with his enthusiasm. The weather developed its own plot in the meantime and heavy showers were forecast.

I had plotted a wiggly, but progressive, route that was slightly different to the one I took in April; sticking to the northern edge of the South Downs National Park as much as possible and just dipping a toe into Surrey – I wanted to know what those roads were like, those roads that had previously been a blur from the car windscreen, those thin veins between the A23, A24, A272 and the A283, sneaking into Hampshire at Liphook from the Wey Valley.

George was good company and being the stronger rider he dragged me from Lewes through to Hassocks, and patiently waited whilst I fixed a puncture at Westmeston just as the heavens opened. We met Jo in Hassocks, the plan was to have a coffee and then George and Jo would ride with me for a bit and then slingshot me on my way as they turned back for Brighton. We were all already a little damp, in hindsight the café rooms at Ditchling would have been a better option since Hassocks wasn’t proffering a great deal of choice. As we stood in the doorway of Truffles we contemplated a wet dog tied to his lead as the owner shopped for fresh bread, the sky a yellow balloon and rivulets already running a course along the gutter.

The pace was high from Hassocks to Partridge Green. My two companions taking a revolving turn on the front with me gratefully holding on at the back – it wasn’t lack of will that left me lingering back there, if George and Jo minded they were too polite to say so.

Goodbyes outside The Partridge I was left to my own devices. Devices it later turned out to be somewhat water damaged. After crossing the A24 I was in vague and unknown territory and navigation was proving impossible in the heavy rain. A few wrong turns led me on to the A272, a road notorious for its lack of sympathy even in a car – I felt uncomfortable and a little agitated that I had ended up here but decided to press on and pass through Coolham and pick up my route again at Billingshurst. By Billingshurst I had already decided to allow my excuses to take over – the heavy rain had continued and the shivering had begun. A call was made and as I quivered in the passenger seat I was thankful that our paths had crossed just at the right time.

Another attempt at this is due soon, though perhaps in the Spring.


“no sew-on badge for you”




Further Works

New Order – Singularity