Ride report: Old Portlians Reliability ride Sunday 3 Feb 2013

‘You’re Never Lost If You Don’t Care Where You Are’ or as Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks, put it ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’ –The re-mastered Rumours album was released this week.


I think we have to concede that today’s jaunt was officially ‘Tortuous’. Capt Andy had the treasure map and with George and I as his two buccaneers we set sail from Knockholt with the wind in our sails (more like freezing wind in our faces) – coincidentally the speed I was going was more Barge than Tea Clipper but hey I needed a hackneyed metaphor here so it’ll have to do.


Our bellies were full of coffee and ginger cake so we were ready for anything, or so we thought… From the off we could see this was going to be a ‘special day’. We waved goodbye to the 3 ‘sensible’ ones who rode with us from Penge, had refreshments and then promptly left for a nice ride, without a care in the world.


Ride Type

To best describe today; it was mixture of Audax , Winter Training, Sportive, Easter Egg Hunt (looking for signs) and Cyclo Cross (from the state of the roads encountered).


What is the Old Portlians Reliability Ride?

Let’s break down the elements that make up the Old Portlians to see how it fared (or should that be feared?).


‘A traditional reliability ride run by the Old Portlians’

Lovely people and very welcoming – Extremely reliable and not all that old – But they are also bleedin’ fast and well equipped in terms of cycling.


‘A great no frills event with TWO fantastic routes’

Well we created our own secret ‘third way’, like a platform 9 ¾ that no-one else could see. We had our own ‘Penge-nam Style’ as for us the instructions could have been in Korean. Unhappy with the route given we added our own prologue, that’s just how we roll in SE20.


100km or 68km through Kent, taking in the Ashdown Forest’

Well this is obviously missing the ‘interesting’ bits we added (see above)  and thanks must go to a number of  unnamed ramblers and members of the public who told us where to go –in a nice way.


STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** Toys’ throws Conrad out of Pram!

I myself  in a sort of one man munity shot past Toys Hill, towards Ide Hill (mistakenly following a few members of certain ‘other club’ (we’ll use the initials D.P.) who felt Toys was too rough). Having ridden about a mile up the wrong hill and then receiving a number of ‘where the Hell of the Ashdown are you’ texts and messages from Capt. Andy, I tuned around to ride (and walk a bit) up Toys!


‘Cost £5.00’

Very reasonable cost in monetary terms but in sheer exhaustion (and the wrath of Andy’s family) we, and especially he, paid a lot more than a crisp fiver, believe me.


‘Cakes and hot drinks at start/finish’

Lovely ginger cake at the start lulled us into a false sense of homely, Sunday leisure ride security – But it really was lovely cake!


…and then Bacon Rolls and the finish. But before the finish we decided to do a lap of honour by riding up and down Halstead High Street a few times to wave at the locals – who were not fooled by this and could see we were lost,  a mere 2 miles from Knockholt!


‘Traditional “Old School” Reliability Trial’

Tell the kids of today that we had no need of their Google maps, just natural intuition, bags of determination, British Grit (in abundance all over the roads), a sense of adventure, a sense of slowly getting lost and a sense of flippin’ humour! Yes we had no GPS just an increasingly perspiration soaked list of directions! We would have been slightly better off with Apple Maps!


‘Good value for money’

Yes the refreshments were very reasonable and we were out so long we saved money as we did not dare to stop at any of the many pubs we passed!


‘Downloadable GPS Routes’



‘Route card provided’

Just not a waterproof one!


Lessons learned

After such a long day with such a ‘legendary time’ the sensible thing to do when we signed off at the end of the day was to change our club details to Dulwich Paragon Elite Category , grab the certificates and get the Hell of the Ashdown outta there and never speak of this again


Notes for next (?) time

1)     Don’t leave home without John Haile – Nuff Said!



A Long, hard, cold and frustrating 100+ km round trip from Penge


If Freddie had ridden with us certain parts of the song could have been radically different…


I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to get back before tonight!


Hell of Ashdown is coming our way

So forget all your family duties oh yeah!

Dulwich Paragon will be riding today

So look out for those speed merchants oh yeah

On your marks get set go

Bicycle race bicycle race Icicle face…


The sheet says left the sign says right

You say this just can’t be right!

You say incline, I say hey man

Toys Hill was never my scene

And I can’t wait for Kids Hill


You say Bacon Rolls I say sauce?

You say God give me a choice

You say Lord I say Christ

For these hills I wish I was Peter Pan

Frankenstein or Superman


All I wanna do is

Buy more gears, buy more gears, buy more gears

Etc. fade to end.