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Gazpacho Run 2023*

Thinking about organising a ride-out? There’s always gaps in the Club diary looking for someone to fill them. It’s not difficult once you’ve got a start location and a destination that would appeal to a good cross section of the membership. The route must be well-planned and researched, interesting and flexible, and able to accommodate any last-minute changes in weather conditions.  And, finally, any parking or admissions cannot be too costly or too much like hard work.  Once you’ve considered ticking all the boxes you can only admire the work that James and Helen put in for the Southern Section’s annual Soup Run.
James and Helen, once again, generously opened their home to Club members as the destination for the annual Soup Run on Sunday 23 April. Home for them is a working farm in the rolling hills close to Arundel, with a long family history that James very kindly presented to the Southern Section at an earlier Winter Talk.

Helen began preparation a week in advance with numerous home-made cakes and soups for a largely indeterminate number of guests in the plan. She generously missed the opportunity for the ride-out, instead, staying back at the ‘ranch’, making final preparations for the onslaught of muddy boots and hungry riders (and even some drivers!).
.. and planning for an indeterminate number of guests..
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A very creditable turn-out
On the day, the weather showed little sign of changing despite which, we had a very creditable turn-out of 12 bikes at the appropriately named Departure Lounge, Alton. 11.00am and we headed out towards the intersection with the A31, soon exchanging the Alton hinterland with open, rural scenery and even passing the Sunday ghost-like, Bahnstomer forecourt.  The route was, as promised, varied with identified avoidances including the extremes of gravel-crested roads and dual carriageways, although a little flooding could only be expected.
Being well into Spring, and despite the rain, we have enjoyed some warmth which has brought much of the landscape into its light green, early-year, coat, with the promise of so much more to come. Bimbling through these idyllic lanes was a joy and the group performed the drop-off faultlessly adding to the ease of the ride.
   
The ride came to an end all too quickly as we parked up in the yard of chez Sellers before heading into the cosy warmth of the ‘soup kitchen’.  The menu of 3 different, delicious soups, artisan breads, and cake to finish, made it the perfect destination to a great ride.

Our thanks go to Helen and James for another delightful Soup Run.
* Soup but cold and wet on the ride
Accommodating last-minute changes in weather..
Meanwhile, James had prepared and even test ridden the route. To date, this year has seen rainfall matching the total forecast for the entire year.  (We know this because James operates one of the measuring stations for the Met Office!) Combine this with harsh winter frosts and poor maintenance and you’ve got some shocking road surfaces and localised flooding.  Fortunately, James’s route planning had taken these factors into account and, together with torrential rain in the week preceding the Soup Run, last minute re-routing was still the order of the day.
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