Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bonus Day

Today—like every other day for the past fortnight—was supposed to be a wash out, but who am to argue with sunshine. That’s right, after a dodgy start, the temps climbed above freezing and the sun actually peeked from between the clouds. So, not one to let an opportunity slip by, I grabbed my bike and hit the road.

My destination was a recommended pub called The Dragon in the little village of Colgate about five miles east of Horsham. That’s as the crow flies; the trip was actually about 14 miles total, and I know this because I bought an odometer (wouldn’t I just). But it was a pleasant ride over some serene bike paths, though I could have done without the bits on the road. The people here drive like maniacs.

But, inspired by other bikers I have seen on the roads, I took to the busy streets and soon found myself on the bucolic country lanes outside of town—lanes I had to share with large trucks and rich people in big SUVs who drive like they are qualifying for the Indie 500 and who do NOT appreciate the likes of me slowing them down.

(TRUE STORY: Some years ago, a rich kid in a fast car ramming around the back roads near Shipley, hit a 60 year-old-man who was riding his bike. The kid dragged the man and the bike under his car for a few hundred yards before finally stopping. The man, as you might expect, was seriously injured. When they took the kid to court, his defence was—and this is a direct quote—“I didn’t mean to hit him, I just wanted to clip him.” Apparently, the biker had the temerity to be in front of him, making him go slower than he wanted to before he could find a place to pass so, in order to teach him a lesson, he purposely cut the guy off. But he didn’t see anything wrong with that. His arrogance was breath taking. So, the guy lived, the kid went to jail but I still have to share the road with others like him. I look over my shoulder a lot.)

Anyway, with hope in my heart and a wary eye out for spoiled rich kids in fast cars, I headed for St. Leonard’s Forest. In truth, this was my second foray into this unknown. Some days ago during a brief not-great-weather-but-at-least-not-actively-raining spell, I mapped out a route and set out for the forest. We have lived next to St. Leonard’s Forest for 11 years now and I have always wanted to see it, but somehow just never got around to it, so I was pretty excited by the prospect. Unfortunately, on my first trip, I managed to miss the forest. Somehow, I took a wrong turn, ended up on a mucky, quagmire of a trail and then found myself back in Horsham. Knowing when I’m beaten, I just called it a day, but this time, I managed to keep on track and found the wide, dry and very pleasant trail the runs directly through the forest. It was grand.

Is it any wonder I get lost here so often; do you see a road sign anywhere?

Riding in the country is strange; you can traverse a mucky trail like this...

...then turn a corner and see this. I just bet a spoiled
rich kid with a fast car lives there.

Ah, the forest primeval, as God intended it to be.

Yeah, that's a golf course.

My destination.

My reward.
And when I got to the other side, there was The Dragon, just where it was supposed to be and just as convivial as the reviews claimed it was. It was an olde worlde type of pub, with a fire in the hearth, a friendly bar wench and, most importantly, a place I could sit outside to smoke a cigar and enjoy a pint in the very rare sunshine.

It was a great inaugural trip (the other one didn’t count) and I managed to get back to Horsham without getting lost (well, not too much, anyway).

So that’s one pub down, and thanks to a “cycling to the pubs” guide I found on the internet, I have many more such trips to look forward to. Once the weather cheers up.


  1. I'm so glad that you actually got some sunshine. Believe it or not, it was in the 80s (Fahrenheit, of course) here the other day. Just to make you jealous ;)

    Maybe I would bike more if I had a reward at the end. Hiding a stash of chocolate across town, perhaps? That's an idea....


  2. Thanks for the lovely trip around "your neck of the woods". I would love to do that in my next life!

    1. There's still time in this one ;)

  3. I think you're doing it backwards. It sounds like these trips should not be undertaken sober. Either way, when I saw the theme of the piece, I poured myself a Fat Tire (my current favorite tipple). Thanks for the excuse. -Jan

    1. Fat Tire? I had to Google that one, but it does look interesting. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

  4. Mrs Baum10:46 AM

    You're brave! The weather must be lots better in Sussex than in the midlands. My bike is still firmly in the garage, at least until April. We have had two nice days so far this year, but that's it. Currently it's sleeting, and I'm promising the dog that he'll get a walk "later". Everywhere is so soggy that I couldn't even think about taking the bike off road, and as you say, who wants to ride on roads?

    I so need to emigrate!

    1. Yes, weather-wise we are not doing so bad in Sussex, at least when compared to the rest of the country. If you do emigrate, don't go to my old stomping grounds in Upstate New York--they just got socked with another snowstorm ;)

  5. Pappa Smurf4:47 PM

    Sounds like a good start with just rewards. I was out on the reserve today enjoying the sunshine, my reward? a nice hunk of homemade chocolate cake!

    1. Cake is good; that would work for me, too ;)