If you don't count the Puncheur (and I don't, largely because I can't be bothered thinking up a new sentence to start this with), it had been some time since the TroisV had been on an out of town Club Ride. So it was with some enthusiasm that I cracked the books and researched an appropriate ride for Easter Sunday, to complement the one we took on Good Friday last year.
Alas, the ride I selected initially, which featured the gloriously named 'Turkey Cock Lane', was unavailable due to rail engineering works, so I settled on this little beauty, which I claim looks a bit like a squashed hot cross bun. Some smartarse, I forget which one, pointed out that almost anything does, but nevertheless, I present to our readers (Hi Doug's Mom!) the Hot Cross Run:
Any ill-feeling towards rail companies for denying us fun road names evaporated at the station. Dr Matt, with groupsaver tickets in hand, marched towards the red doors on the train. We had been assured by the helpful driver that here we would find cycle spaces. As he lifted the Croissant gently into the train, both doors closed, causing me, Dr Doug, and our new best friend the conductor (ONBFTC) to fall about laughing.
As we settled into our seats for a fairly long journey, with only the Observer for company, we each took a section and set about criticising it. Dr Matt alighted on the middle-class porn nature of the number of photos of well dressed women, I selected the article about 'retro creatives' (featuring a poet who, gasp!, writes on one of her twelve vintage typewriters rather than on a 'computer'), and Dr Doug went after the well-intentioned but ultimately boring earnestness of the NYT pull-out segment.
Honestly, it was so bad that I felt like writing in to complain, but I just can't seem to lay my hands on a quill.
As we approached our destination ONBFTC remembered that we were going to Amberley, and pointed out that we would be unable to exit the train from the carriage we were in due to short platforms. We were advised to leg it forward one carriage at the next station, which we did to the amusement of all, as ONBFTC shouted instructions the belied his innumeracy/sense of mischief ('keep going! Forward another carriage!').
Finally Amberley arrived. And so did we. We resisted the charms of its working chalk pit museum, and set off on the run, which turned out to be hot, fast and punchy. Lots of short and sharp ups, and quick downs on surprisingly juddery roads.
Without doubt, this was me and the purple line's best performance so far. I stuck resolutely to its guidance, not deviating from it once, perhaps spurred on by the cruel nickname bestowed upon me by the two Doctors - 'Hudson Bay'.
Cruel as it was, the nickname proved apposite at the 13.6km mark, where we discovered a Northwest Passage of our own.
We reached the village of Byworth, the denizens of which were roused from their egg hunting and bun munching by a mighty cry of 'stop!', followed by 'Doug!' followed by 'Matt!' followed by a much less loud 'screw it, I'm having an energy gel'. After a short while, the only two people in the village who did not now know that we had to turn right made their way back down the road, and we took the turn on what the book promised would be a 'rough but rideable' track.
It was one of those things.
NCN4 flashbacks behind us, curses uttered against the book's author, and a spirited defence of the purple line mounted, we pressed on, searching for more interesting architectural features like this one:
This admonishment reminded us that we had a lunch to get to, and so we sped off on our largely uneventful but fun ride. It was pretty quiet on most of the roads, which meant that when we did hit traffic, or encounter a bad driver, it stood out a bit more.
One such moron was met on the Amberley Road, shortly after the purple line (which, again, I did not lose) had tried to lead us through someone's front room. 'Get off the road!' he shouted, despite being fifth in a queue of traffic not caused by us. Quite where we were supposed to go, I'm not sure. I have some suggestions for where he could go, if he wants to write in.
The last turn was now approaching, which would take us into Amberley itself and a delicious pub, but by this point Dr Doug's Manifest Destiny gene had kicked in and he pedaled on, eventually stopping at the junction with the day's final climb - a real sting in the tail which hit 11.3% in parts. In hindsight, it was better that we tackled this before lunch, otherwise it might have been renamed Regurge Hill.
So we ate at the Bridge Inn by Amberley Station, where we could watch our first choice train vanish into the distance, and question Dr Matt's choice of a roast dinner on a hot day. As punishment, we sent him to get cutlery from a shed that seemed to contain only one tool:
All that remained was a train journey home, where Dr Doug and I serenaded Dr Matt to sleep using baseball talk, and then a quick sprint home from the station. I'm sure the comments will reflect a shouting incident that I can't quite recall, but as we rounded onto Birdcage Walk, a small boy caught sight of my yeast-byproduct-endorsed jersey and shouted: 'Look! Marmalade!'.
Close, son. Close.