Monday, December 01, 2008

CYCLING: Tartan tyrants of Wilmington

You should try pushing the thing…, puffed David Dimbleby who was propelling a kart up the muddy Folkington track we were sliding down.
…It’s harder for the person at the back.

Peter Sissons. Did you see? Did you SEE? I whispered excitedly.
See who? I was too busy looking at the kid in the go-kart, said Daniel.
That looked like fun.

The track was a mistake.
If I was a cynical man I would blame the old couple dressed prematurely for Christmas day in all over green and red tartan and tweed.
They had seemed nice.
If they were senior members of the anti cycle lobby – Clobbys for future reference –, as we later suspected, they hid it well.
When we asked for a way from Wilmington to Wannock without risking our necks on the neighboring main road they’d hardly paused before suggesting we peddled back up the hill and hang a left.
There’s a track along to Folkington, then go down the lane, take a right and then there’s another across to the back of Polegate, they instructed.
They even smiled.
Mind you, it’s completely unwalkable, let along peddleable, they said to themselves with a wicked grin - but not until we were well on out of earshot.

The thing about riding in the mud is that when the time comes it’s too boggy to ride, walking conditions are a thing of the even more distant past. Then you have to push the bike too.
They knew this, we agreed, up to our ankles.

Earlier we’d left cold Old Town and peddled a little too enthusiastically onto the Downs on the Seaford road.
Luckily, made lonesome by the weather, she welcomed us with a backdraft as we neared the top and saved our legs a little for the hack ahead.

Daniel was gleeful atop his shining new silver steed.
I was jealous and failing to hide it.

We’d planned a vague loop through East Dean, along the top edge of Friston Forest, along to Littlington. Pint, Chips, around to the Long Man at Wilmington and, well, home the safest way we could find.
We shot along the side of golf holes against the tide of drives and onto a valley cut which whizzed us between fields of shivering sheep to East Dean. Cars suddenly buzzed over our conversation and we turned off to take a back path up the steep side of a village made ghostly by Sunday and season.

Out we popped puffing plumes of hot lung air. And across the tarmac stream of growling metal once more. Kind walkers, Clobby Resistance Fighters, held the gate open for us and then our smiles of thanks widened as we saw what waited.


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