Shoreham, Brighton or both!

12th October 2014

Les’s Briefing

The theme of this article is one of growth, as well as a brief resume of Sunday’s ride to Shoreham.

We have been to Shoreham before, in August 2009 when it was much warmer and the art deco building wasn’t covered in scaffolding, but then we have been most everywhere in the south of England that is accessible within a reasonable day’s ride radius. The longer rides we have tried (e.g. DOF’s two ‘Raw-Hide’ rides) have revealed the shortcomings of large groups trying to stay together over longer distances, and the extreme vulnerability of a long ride to missed drop offs (a subject to which I shall return!) or slow riders, who cannot make the necessary progress to keep to the ride timings. And we’re not talking about excess speed, simply being able to maintain the posted limit with confidence and in safety. This is fundamentally why we have the Gold, Silver & Bronze rocker awards, where your progress from a new rider to an experienced continental traveller, able to plot and plan your own routes, is rewarded in a very public way.

Last time we went to Shoreham there were 24 participants. Yesterday we had 50, and it was October, and not a very nice day, being damp and chilly with the threat of rain. If we had gone in a warm sunny August, as in 2009, how many could we have had - 75 riders or even 100? Meridian Chapter has had to deal with being a victim of its own success with very large numbers of riders turning out, and they have developed the strategy of the road crew, where the vital/essential/dodgy turnoffs are marked by the road captains and road marshals. This has not been the C&F way, as we have always emphasised the individual responsibility of participants on a ride; both to be actively aware of their own safety, and to be assiduous in complying with the requirements of the drop off system. We simply do not have enough Road Captains to cover every road junction on a ride out of more than about 15 minutes. We wouldn’t get to the A3.

Coffee Stop

The route out was traditional as far as the M25, then we went via Ripley and West Horsley to Forest Green, where the old inn The Parrott was as hospitable as ever, although they hadn’t made quite enough coffee. At the briefing there were stern warnings about the likely presence of gravel, dead leaves, damp patches, horses and bicycles and these were heeded as the run thus far was without incident. Following our coffee break we set off due South and, to be honest, much of the time for the next 15-20 miles I had no idea where we were. Les had found some extremely convoluted ways of getting from A to B that involved every letter from Q to Z. We miraculously appeared at the bottom of Bury Hill and then enjoyed the views of the High Weald before some more back roads led us to Shoreham via the A283, arriving at about 1pm.

True to their word, the staff had cordoned off a goodly size area of the car park, which we duly filled with Harleys prior to taking the obligatory ‘group shot’. It wasn’t the weather to sit out on the veranda eating salad, so we filled the restaurant and ate lasagne instead (other dishes were available). Coffee Stop The service was as expected, so it wasn’t until about 2.30 that it was time to get ready for the ride back It would not have done to hurry Guy Ingram’s sausage feast!

Quite a few people had departed already for the attractions of Brightona, so it was a much reduced group who submitted to the tender mercies of the conducted ride back to Ryka’s at the foot of Box Hill. I simply selected the straightest route. Some of the roads used were very narrow and extremely bumpy and there were a lot of 40mph speed limits. Nevertheless we intended to make good progress and to be back at Rykas by 4pm. I realised that we would need a fuel stop, and it was on stopping at the Shell garage in Henfield that we realised that a drop off had let us down. We do know the culprit, but no names, no pack drill. After a ten minute wait, Nick Deal set off back along the route to see if the lost souls were easily discoverable, Les was promoted to last man and we set off again, all now with full tanks (might as well use the 10 minutes profitably). Fortunately, when we made it back to Ryka’s, the missing members were already there, having gone by a more direct route up the A24, so no harm done.

A quick cup of tea and it was off home, just beating the rain. It hasn’t stopped here yet.

Shoreham Airport

It was great to see the usual mix of new and old faces, and to welcome again some of the newer members who are becoming very regular participants on the Sunday ride-outs (e.g. James (Goldman), Emine, Mark, Pete (Rogers), Anders, Jean, and Krzysztof.)

With the seeming growth in numbers on the ride-outs, we are having to find venues and premises that are able to cater for the larger numbers, simply parking 50-60 motorcycles takes quite a bit of space. We would be extremely loath to have to limit the numbers on the Sunday rides, so we have to be able to build in flexibility in the arrangements; this is why you will see us using known and trusted lunch and coffee stops, whilst trying to vary the roads as much as possible. A good ride-out will have everything from motorway-class A roads to the narrowest of back roads, and hopefully will throw in some glorious views of the countryside as the seasons change.

Many thanks are due to Les, Mick and Nick for organising the day, which was a splendid welcome to autumn 2014.

The next ride is the Remembrance Ride to Ypres in November, which is now fully booked. However all C&F members will be welcomed at 611 Kings Road on Sunday 9th November to participate in the Chapter’s 2 minute silence at 11am.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain


Photographs are courtesy of Emine San and Steve Graham