Over the Hill

15th August 2021

Since the dreaded C-word all began, this was our first Chapter Ride-Out for some while. With restrictions lifted, pubs and restaurants open - time for a ride.

My original Over the Hill plan was a longer route, over the South Downs, down the other side towards Chichester. Another time perhaps. On this occasion with rather iffy unpredictable summer weather - together with Covid precautions still in play and having an effect - better to keep it closer to home and play safe.

Planning these rides is usually spearheaded by direction and place, on this occasion I was having difficulty finding pubs to commit to hosting a guestimate of 30 Harley riders gagging for food after a ride on a Sunday afternoon, particularly so when it’s traditionally one of the best times for customers , especially their locals seeking their Sunday roast. To the rescue came Kenny, owner and landlord of the Selsey Arms on the A272 near Billingshurst. A keen biker himself, he was happy to entertain us all as he’d done a couple years previously.

Over the Hill

Coffee stop and petrol were next. Coming to the rescue here was Andy Eborn, fellow Road Captain, who knew his local would likely help out, and indeed they did. Sarah, landlady at The Plough in Leigh, Surrey, was only too happy to open up shop earlier than usual and set us all up for tea, coffee and cakes. With years of Harley association in her own family, she welcomed us all with open arms and was a total star.

With a fairly straightforward route planned to get us out of the smoke and down the green lanes, we were set.

In usual style, Warrs opened the gates early Sunday morning with refreshments and lite-bites, and the Chapter members started pouring in.

Pouring, of course, was the last thing we wanted, and with a stunning Saturday the day before, blue skies and a dry roads were very hopeful.

Members signed in, stickers stuck, briefing given, we were ready for the off. Wending our way over Putney Bridge and up the High Street we headed out on the A3 to cut across to the Ewell by-pass, Tadworth roundabout before plunging into the verdant lanes of Surrey near Betchworth. What wasn’t expected though, was to be greeted by looming grey clouds and drizzle all the way to the coffee stop. However, we have since found out that it was all Road Captain, Andrew Papas’s fault - apparently the software on his glorious new sparkly Pan America is so good, to use his own words, “actually, how the rain mode appears to work, is you switch it on and it bloody pours down”. (insert blimmin’ if you prefer).

Fear not, for the moment we arrived at The Plough, with Sarah’s smile and welcome, the clouds parted and the sun came out. With big thanks for the small tanks - Andy E took the 48’s and Sporties for a short dash to a nearby petrol station for a top up.

Leaving Leigh, we were back on dry roads and strobe-sunlit leafy tunnels. In fair weather, you realise how the sunny countryside of England is often so difficult to beat. Heading south then finally west to avoid as many towns as possible, our posse pottered into Sussex. The traffic was surprisingly light and we made easy progress with very few of the expected Sunday road-user usual suspects.

Settling under the shade of the beer garden awning in the Selsey Arms, many of us relaxed with much chatter and refreshment before tucking into Kenny’s wonderful Sunday roasts.

A very big thanks to DOF as Last Man, and Road Captains - Steve, Fred, Johnners, Nick, Andrew P, Rob and special thanks to Andy E for unstinting assistance and enthusiasm... and also to unsung hero, to many, of C&F - not only for pitching up with me at 8:45 on a weekday morning for a recce, but taking all the photos and video on our actual rides, spending very many hours sorting back home, then posting it all on Facebook so the members have a reminder of how much fun they have actually had - hats off to Steve Graham please..!

Paul Wiggins - C&F Road Captain