Dieppe Raid by Andy Bebington
Why do we do it? Why do we take waterproofs and overshoes for a summer ride? Why do we pack arm warmers and leg warmers for a ride in France in late June? And why, when we leave the hotel in light drizzle, do we say to ourselves "It'll clear up soon, it was nice yesterday!" and pedal off to the start in the town centre, leaving all the weather proofing behind after carrying it so far? That's what happened to some of us in Dieppe this year.....
Friday was nice, not too hot, not too cloudy or humid, as three of us did our usual ride into Newhaven via the Cuckoo Trail for an overnight stay in a B&B; Saturday was dry as we crossed to Dieppe and wandered round the town in the afternoon. In the event, though, we didn't know it on Sunday of course, late Monday, when we rode from Newhaven to a B&B north of Lewes, and all day Tuesday as we rode back to Croydon, would be dry. It was just Sunday that was wet.
The Sunday when we had a 140 km ride on the books (although it turned out to be a few miles longer than that). The Sunday when we stopped for David's puncture and found that Peter had one too, so Willie and Patrick carried on; we'd catch them up somewhere, we said, except that we sailed past the cafe where they were having a break, didn't see them or their bikes, carried on trying to catch them up. "Surely", we thought, "we can't have passed them on our detour via the scenic route?" Yes, once again we'd missed a turn somewhere along the coast and taken the wrong two sides of a rectangle, we eventually picked up our route but map reading wasn't easy in the rain and we eventually got to the chateau for lunch and no one had any news of Willie and Pat.
Heads down and plough on, rain never easing, hills not as pleasant as in previous years, not even those going down. Nice countryside? Maybe, but we never got to look at it! And always there was the knowledge that the last hill out of Pourville remained, prior to the drop into Dieppe, it was always there, always just over the horizon.. Until, all of a sudden, it wasn't "just over the horizon", it was the horizon. We'd dropped down into Pourville, turned right onto the sea front and there it was, half a mile away. The Cliff. Yes, I know, we climbed it up a zigzag, the gradient isn't anything special but that first view was, to say the least, daunting. And we'd already done the scheduled 140 km....
Never mind, we'll be back next year, maybe we'll get some sunshine and maybe we won't miss that wretched left turn somewhere after the nuclear power station. Again.
One in Three and a Half - A Poem by Andy Bebington
Three and a half! Three and a half! Three and a half! Three and a half!
We started from Taunton, a couple of dozen; Trevor was missing, we'd meet him
We'd been told of this hill south of Bude, place called Millook, Three and a
half! Three and a half!
There were nervous old tummies that morning at breakfast and some had found
routes that avoided the horror
And the hill it goes on and gets just that bit easier fifteen per cent, behind
And we gather for lunch with the peacocks and otters and talk about heartrates
and gearing and triumph
And Trevor and Dave rode the hill for a charity; three and a half! Three and
There's nothing quite like it in't Borough of Croydon or anywhere else that
I've ridden this year
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