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  Southern Section diary

 
There are some who may argue that the whole plan was a ruse to try out the new mount, the R1200GS. It’s easy to see how this could be interpreted that way but, believe me, the roads, or what may loosely be described as roads, were as much a surprise to me as they were to everybody else.  The planning had been much the same as for the Cream Tea run a couple of weeks earlier. Plonk a start and a finish point into Basecamp and join the dots. As far as I’m aware there is no ‘Challenging Route’ option on this software but if there was, I could have hit it in error.
'Varied' road surfaces made it interesting
Sunday, 6 May, was a Bank Holiday weekend and the weather was anything but Bank Holiday. Brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and temperatures in the 20s. Loomies was busy but we all found each other, including a couple of first timers, Adrian Dodd and Paul Matchett. The ride was always going to be interesting in that, I had not ridden any of it and was just following the satnav from the front. So, when we set off and took the first left onto what looked like a glorified cart track, I did a double-take at the satnav screen to confirm the left-turn decision.

In all fairness, I had advised that this was going be another nadgery and entertaining route and that’s certainly what it turned out to be. Many of the narrow lanes were still recovering from the deluges of rain that had swept across the South during the previous weeks, with piles of loose gravel at just about every inconvenient bend. On the plus side, with the delightful weather, we were keeping away from the main routes with their slow and heavy traffic. At times it was difficult to remember that we were leading a ride through the south of England, on a bank holiday weekend, with such spectacular, unhindered, views of the South Downs showing through the heat haze.
Many of the lanes required a fair degree of concentration and some of the pure touring bikes found it a bit heavy going, opting instead, to break-away and find a less challenging route to our final destination at Sheffield Park Station. The more intrepid riders soldiered on, stopping for a brief respite at Bury Hill Café. Refreshed and re-grouped, we wended our way, following the route to the South of Horsham and Crawley, before heading north for the final leg of the journey on the more conventional A272.

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We finally arrived at Sheffield Park in time for a light lunch and a view of one of the Bluebell Railway’s fine, preserved, steam locomotives. It was No. 65, an O1 class loco originally built in 1896, drawing into the station before running around to take the train back to East Grinstead.

Our day was finished with an enjoyable run back through the Sussex and Surrey countryside, for a welcoming cup of tea in the sunshine, on the patio, at home. Thanks to all who joined us and made the inaugural run on the new GS extra special.

Special thanks go to Mike & Lesley Smith for additional photography