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  Southern Section diary

Well, it wouldn’t be a proper ride-out if we all arrived together without some sort of detour. Sunday 25 August's ride to the Hell Fire Caves was no exception. We’d followed the rules: planned a good route, test ridden it, and confirmed that there were no glitches in the .gpx file.  On the day, the weather couldn’t have been better resulting in a good showing of 10 bikes. Lunch was booked at The Dashwood Arms in Piddington, one the Oxford Section’s regular haunts, and just a mile or so from our destination.
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The problem with a test ride is that things can change on the day ..and they did. Sunday was the in the middle of the Bank Holiday weekend and the route was significantly busier than on our trial run. Heading northwards from Newlands Corner meant that we had to negotiate Woking town centre with its traffic and roadworks but, using the drop-off system, nobody got lost. In fact, it was going brilliantly until Chobham. The notorious Nav struck again showing a misleading junction where it could have gone one of two ways and I followed the wrong one … followed by 9 bikes and lots of other traffic into a narrow road. A quick u-turn and things were back on track except, the traffic split us up and there was nowhere to stop and wait safely. Suddenly I was on a sharp, blind, left-hand corner with a 4x4 right up me chuff. By the time I could stop safely I knew the seeds of disaster had been sown. Watching the mirror I saw the rest of the party go flying straight up the road, missing the left turn altogether.

To my relief, some the riders had spotted me and had managed to hook around a small green but now 1 became 2. The assembled party of 5 bikes waited but, safe in the knowledge that Mike and Lesley, as tail enders, had the route and destinations. They knew of the error immediately but could not catch the rest of party in any time that would have saved the day.

The rest of us headed off to enjoy the skilfully planned … (Remember: things can change on the day?) The main route into Windlesham was closed, or was it the whole of Windlesham? It might as well have been. After a mis-guided tour of the local area, we came onto the A30 at Sunningdale, a place not on the schedule, and after a consultation of the map agreed to take the next major right-hand turn, excepting that, like Windlesham, it too was closed. Keeping on the A30 we finally came to a junction I recognised from the test run. We were back on course.
The rest of the ride went like clockwork by comparison with some delightful country lanes unfolding in front of us as Berkshire became Buckinghamshire and the Chiltern Hills came into view. Arriving at the Dashwood Arms the expected banter was in full flow but we had the last laugh describing the rare opportunity to ride roads in the South of England with hairpin bends.
After a leisurely lunch we ambled our way back to West Wycombe and explored the man-made spectacle of the Hell Fire Caves with their saucy past. The cool, dark atmosphere proved a welcome change from the blistering 30 degree heat outside. The Caves proved fascinating and, after a cooling ice cream, we headed home via another convoluted route involving several circuits of Cippenham, near Slough. Thanks go to everyone who joined us.
The Dashwood Arms in the Summer sun
Rare image of the headless Beamer Rider from the Hell Fire Caves (Photo: Lesley Smith)
Not sure if Bob is shocked by the topless Beamer Rider or the topless statue!