Bodiam or Bust
9th April 2006
The weather forecast had looked grim. I had been checking the met office web site every day the week before as I wanted my first run of the year to be a dry one.
When I awoke on Sunday morning I looked out and saw the sun shining and a beautiful blue sky. Thank god the met office doesn’t know what they are doing.
I arrived at King’s Road at 08:30, filled the coffee machine, got the croissants ready and waited for people to arrive. And arrive they did! By the time I was ready to give the pre run brief we had over 50 people waiting to go on the ride. One had travelled all the way from Southampton! There were also several very welcome new faces giving us an impressive total of 56 riders for the run. The ride was to be approximately 75 miles with a comfort stop arranged at the half way point.
We set off at 10:50 down through Surrey via Reigate and into Kent. The drop off system was working perfectly with Michael Howers doing a sterling job as last man helped by a band off roving Road Marshals. It was the first time Chelsea and Fulham had utilised road marshals and it worked very well. So thanks to our Road Captain’s Steve ‘Smiley’ Beauchamp, Peter ‘Scottie’ Scott, Les Channing and Andrew Papas for making sure the group stayed together.
After 34 miles we arrived at out comfort stop, the Plough Inn at Dormansland. After a quick break and a check of the football scores with Dave Mollison (who was listening to it on his Street Glide on the way down), we saddled back up and headed to our destination, Bodiam Castle. I particularly enjoyed this part of the run as the roads were great, the scenery was of the kind you can only find in England, and the sun was still shining. Add to the mix 56 Harley’s and you have the perfect recipe for a great day out. We arrived at Bodiam to find a parking area reserved for us and the sun still shining.
Bodiam was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a royal councillor and veteran of the wars with France. As reward for his efforts against the French the king granted him permission to build a castle on his manor at Bodiam. Although now a ruin, it is one of the most celebrated castles in England.
The castle looked picture postcard perfect in the afternoon sun, and as the bikes arrived an old steam train slowly made its way along the bluebell railway. This beautiful setting was to a certain degree wasted on a group of bikers who had only one thing on their mind... food and drink. So after a bowl of medieval stew, some jokes with Dietmar Kohls about chicken nuggets (?) and a bathroom break, some headed over to look at the castle while we headed over the road for a social pint before the ride home.
So once again a big thank you to my fellow road captains, the staff at Bodiam and the Plough Inn, and to everyone who came along for the ride.
Roll on summer... roll on Italy...