Bob McHardy’s Memorial Meander

Posted: December 3, 2015 in Audax, Cycling, Tricycle
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BobMcMM (3)

Gracie waiting for the start

It’s the last Audax on my calendar for this year and the last chance before the Christmas madness kicks in to go for a day out on Gracie before she is cleaned and put away for the winter. I had intended to do this ride on the Beast last year but the wheel fell off and put pay to that idea. A ride at the end of November is always going to be fraught with weather based decisions. The forecast wasn’t being that helpful by mentioning nearly every climatic condition there could possibly be, ranging from bright sunshine to howling gales. In the end I just stuffed the saddle bag full of clothes for every occasion and hoped for the best.

BobMcMM (2)

Someone had a long bike

As usual I was the only person in the throng on a Trike, at least it meant that no one noticed that I’d put the back wheels on the wrong way round. I really had no desire to struggle yet again with the wheel nuts so they were going to stay that way for the duration. After lots of chocolate biscuits and procrastination I was underway. I don’t know how it happened but I was leading the pack for the first mile or so. This was a very strange situation to be in and I was relieved when someone overtook me to allow the natural order to return. I wasn’t so happy when they slowed down in front of me though. I had no desire to lose my momentum so I just went by, I few minutes later they passed again, the same thing happened. This was just getting weird. Eventually a small rise sorted things out as my natural inability on hills gave the other bike the advantage to finally stay ahead.

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The melee at the control

There’s a tricky turn near Chailey. I have no idea why it doesn’t feel right as the route sheet describes it perfectly. I remember that last year I sat at the corner pondering if it really was the correct turning. It seems that the Girl with the Silver Helmet was having a similar dilemma this year. Her SatNav had directed her down the wrong turning, so now she was a little lost. We battled against the wind to the correct turning, watching one or two others go sailing past it. The wind had really picked up so I did the ignoble thing and drafted her until we hit a slope and I couldn’t hold her back wheel any longer.

Ditchling is a lovely little village with narrow streets, a combination which makes it a magnet and trap for cars. I spend an amusing few minutes watching two cars impede the movement of all the traffic whilst they were doing the “after you, no after you” thing. Eventually it seemed rude to stay there sniggering at the politeness and chaos so I slipped on by. Ditchling was made sweeter by the fact that I wasn’t climbing the Beacon today.

The final approach to the midway control was into the wind. It really wasn’t nice. A long flat road had been turned into a never ending hill. “It’s all gone a bit Dutch” someone remarked as the crawled past. The tea and cakes made a welcome relief. The knowledge that the way back was with the wind made the cakes taste even better.

I’m sure that the speed of the return leg was all down to my superior fitness and technique. The wind may have had something to do with it but I’m sure it was only a minor part.

I met up with the Girl with the Silver Helmet again near the end; she had watched two people take the wrong turn and now doubted her SatNav. I was following the paper route sheet and had the advantage of getting lost here last year so we joined forces in heading the right way. She was clearly the stronger cyclist and slowly become a dot up the road before disappearing round a corner, never to be seen again.

As always the last few kilometers seemed to take an age but eventually I was rewarded with a slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake and five minutes of friendly banter before packing Gracie into the car and heading home tired and happy.


  1. Thank you, I try my best to keep her in good condition. She’s getting on a bit but she can still put some of the youngsters to shame 🙂


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